What many see as the biggest annual event in the Namibian music industry, the Namibia Annual Music Awards (NAMA),were a hit of surprises and expected hiccups.
The awards started off with a Friday teaser called the Industry Awards at the National Theatre of Namibia (NTN), which to most viewers seemed like rehearsal night for the Saturday event at Ramatex.
The Industry Awards were an invitation only function that saw the who’s who of Namibian music come out in their numbers to celebrate the best Namibian music has to offer.
As the most celebrated music event one would expect artists, guests and likers of things to come out dressed their best but most who came were representing throw backs to their matric farewell nights, draped in satin garments with the shiniest fake diamonds can offer while others put on a show of drag and scandalous *thighsposure*.
This is with the exception of the few brothers who took to a black tie and fine waist coats putting the brothers in Agege bread shoes to shame.
Ladies also came out to show off their 3 months of hard work at the gym, in fitted dresses to celebrate their hips.
Couples matched in collars and fabrics, and singles in conservatively kinky outfits.
Fast forward to the ceremony and you get a Friday night which saw 17 awards being handed out including best socially responsible artist which went to Lize Ehlers, best song with a message was KP Illest with No one is Laughing, best Shamabo being awarded to new-comer Laviyalava with Makenyato and Kwaito sensation Gazza walked away with the award for Radio song of the year.
The main event held on the Saturday night saw the ladies pulling out their gowns and fur coats, with their highest of high heels, while the gents tried to keep up by putting on their most dapper suits.
The VIP blue carpet area was abuzz as friends and kin alike tried to mingle and catch up. Despite the turn out the show must go on and go on it did with KP Illest trying his best to wow the crowd with his song No one’s laughing with only what seemed to be the rent a crowd enjoying the song.
What followed next was a performance by Hip Hop artist of the year N.I.A and Desmond singing their song better days as the crowd continued to trickle into the venue.
After announcing a few more award winners Gazza hit the stage in epic Gazza style as a bunch of dancers ran out in ninja costumes while he came out dressed as a samurai, hat and all. Unfortunately his performance was a let-down and far from the usual Gazza that fans have come to love and expects.
Performing Nuka from his new Pumumu album featuring Maria Nepembe whose random mumbling could barely be heard, the ninjas did nothing to entice the crowd with the dance moves that Gazza is so well known for. Yet again bringing no Nam flavour to it, but instead choosing to embrace foreign cultures.
The winner for best traditional Big Ben encouraged local artists to be more traditional that way we would be better able to impress international audiences.
Mr Dogg who took home three awards thanked his wife and family while at the same time encouraging Namibian men to make the important cut and get circumcised.
Soon after taking to the stage The Dogg had a gang of dancers and his usual back up dancers/ hype man moving up and down the stage trying to get the audience up and dancing but the crowd would have non off that as only the rent a crowed jumped up and down with excitement, on a happier note he called his young protégé Young T to the stage and told the over 300 million viewers of the awards that Young T would be the next best thing to hit Namibian music.
The amazing Lize Ehlers came on stage with a choir and sang her song Everything happens for a reason reminding us why she had won the award for best live performance the night before.
As more brief performances followed the audience was graced with a performance by Roberto one of the Pan African artists who was expected to be in attendance. A special recognition award was awarded to Ndilimani for their many years of devotion to the music industry. Soon after came a performance by Exit soon after followed by Satlam and then the VMSIX experience who blew us away with their beautiful performance of a Damara/Nama song.
The Pan African artist of the year award went to Roberto who was the only artist nominated to have shown up, giving us the impression that he only won because no one else bothered to showed up.
Next to hit the stage was LMPC who performed a song with Jaleel and later went on to sing his song She want dance which saw Oteya coming on stage in a black hoody and track pants with sneakers ensemble.
Following LMPC was four award winner Ann Singer who started with her rendition of Adele’s Hello followed by her songs Bulletproof and Diminengeipo. She owned the stage taking a page out of Adeles performances by going solo on stage and having dancers come on for only one song.
The big awards for the night such as Song of the year won by The Dogg, best Newcomer by Ann Singer, Male Artist of the year Big Ben and Female artist of the year went to Chikune who accepted the award under the swell of tears that can only be attributed to her bundle of joy.
Over all smooth sailing are not words that can be used to describe the event that was the NAMA’s. Friday night saw artists delivering better performances then Saturday, a look at the performances of Christopher the grand, Twazis and Tequila left audiences on their feet.
While Saturdays performances seemed rushed, not giving audiences a chance to fully enjoy the music. The artists we were promised we would see such as AKA where nowhere in sight.
The reunions we saw on stage left us yearning for more. Gal level had lost their chemistry and seemed in a rush to get of the stage and away from each other, while Matongo family gave us a brief rundown of their past songs yet again rushing through the music.
There is room for improvement and considering these awards are being broadcast worldwide the creative team should have put in an effort to make it more visually appealing. Artists should bear in mind that the audience is filled with paying fans and they expect a level of service delivery and they failed to deliver.
They should work harder at keeping their performances at a certain level and be consistent.