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IÔÇÖm proud of Who I am ÔÇö Shishani

Mon, 10 November 2014 04:19
by Andreas Kathindi

Tell us about yourself.
I’m an artist traveling between Namibia, my country of birth, and Europe where I have various projects as a musician. Next to my own music, I’m currently working on promoting Namibian music abroad and it’s an exciting process. I’ve won some competitions, which I’m proud, of and enjoying my creative journey.
Who was your biggest influence growing up?
Musically, it was Soul music, RnB, Funk, HipHop, and some Jazz. Personally, it was traveling places, getting exposed to many different people and cultures and discovering the world of music since a young age.
What expectations did you have of Namibian music industry before you moved back here and did it live up to them?
I can’t really say I had any specific expectations. I just wanted to delve into it, explore and give it everything I had. It’s been an amazing ride with all the beauties and challenges that go with it. Namibia has quite a way to go regarding the export of our musicians, but the talent is there. I think we really need the right people with the right interests at heart – meaning: music and musicians! - to make that happen. But we’ve started and we’ll get there!
Having grown up in Netherlands, are places like that as tough to live in if you’re black or mixed or is that perception wrong?
Everything depends on where you are and what people you have around you. Obviously if you’re in a place with narrow –minded people, you’ll go through a lot of rubbish. Luckily, I didn’t have too much of that. But growing up I had my share of being one of the few, or the only person of colour in most settings. So, I naturally got a lot of attention and curiosity towards me because of it. I can’t remember how many times I explained my life story, my background, my reasons for being in Europe to people.  I think me being that little brown sheep in the crowd made me a very flexible and versatile person though. It’s made me who I am.
What has been the biggest challenge for you since coming back to Namibia?
Language! I’m just too crazy occupied every time I’m back, I never really got into learning Oshiwambo! (Some of us were not raised with the language, you see.) Otherwise, it’s also been the difference in cultural perceptions, which is natural when you’re raised in a different environment. But in the end it’s a beautiful journey and I’m glad to be connected to both sides of the world.
You haven’t come out as gay yet, but do you think doing so would encourage more people to do so?
 I find it sad that I’m asked to come out of something? What do I have to come out of? I’m a musician, I’m an artist, I’m a person, I’m a woman, I’m a creator, and yes, I’m attracted to women. I’ve never hidden anything.  I think there are far more important things to focus on than someone’s sexuality. It’s like focusing on my skin colour instead of my qualities. I’m proud of who I am. You can’t stop a bird from flying. So yes, people should be themselves and not be afraid or judged upon their sexuality. Apartheid should be over.  In all forms of discrimination.
Even though Namibia is conservative when it comes to sexuality, it’s not as bad as places like Uganda; do you think people would look at you differently if you came out?
People should look at the real evils in society. Those who lie, cheat, manipulate and steal from the people. Not to me who’s living my life the best way I can and sharing my love with a woman. I’m sure some people will have an opinion ready. But again, during apartheid people were judged upon their colour, Blacks were supposed to be stupid, incompetent, lower, you name it. Were they right? They used to say the world was flat. Were they right? Those that claimed the world was round got disgraced and hated, discriminated. And in the end… we live in a world that is round. So, let’s please look at the qualities of a person, not their sexuality.
How long have you been rocking your Afro?
Since the day my hair started to grow!
Who is your favourite local (Namibian) artist?
Tough question!!!!! Miss Blackonetic (Black Vulcanite, Tonetic, Miss H).
What’s the naughtiest thing you did as a child?
I punctured some people’s bicycle tires during a school break..!
Are you going to take part in the upcoming elections?
What’s the most important thing you’re hoping from whoever is elected president?
Leadership is all about improving the lives of your people and tilting the people to a higher level of life-standards. Namibia is such a wealthy country, yet the majority is living in unnecessary poverty, unemployment, inequality and abuse –which, to me, comes from all the frustration. I hope our leaders will end this corruption and take the people’s interest to mind. Inspire through example.
What are you currently working on, musically?
I’ve done quite some recordings and performances, including : The Dub Colours (Greece) Karima el Fillali (Morocco/ Netherlands), Sjahin During (Turkey/Netherlands) and Ana Carla Maza (Cuba/France). I’ve recorded an EP called ‘The first Step’ with Acoustic Hip Hop trio  “The Soul Travelers” with whom I toured through Namibia in 2013. Most recently, I made a record with my brother Ernst Vranckx, which is a jazz-oriented arrangement of my songs.
The year is almost over, what would you say is the most significant thing you’ve achieved in 2014?
My Radio France International Discovery Award nomination has been the musical highlight in terms of recognition.
What are you looking forward to in 2015?
I’m cooking up a new project with some amazing artists that I just cannot wait for!