The first annual Oviritje Music Awards were launched in Windhoek on Friday in an effort to return the genre to the top of the Namibian music charts and onto the lips of everyone.
The mastermind behind the awards, Jossie Kauandenge, said the mission is to resuscitate the genre while also promoting Oviritje artists.
“What is fascinating is the fact that many people could not even understand the language, but they were captivated by this music and started playing it over and over again. Many established artists from other genres also started collaborating with Oviritje artists as the demand for this genre grew in leaps and bounds,” added Kauandenge.
He told VIBEZ! that the awards ceremony also seeks to recognise Oviritje performers and creatives, and to propel them to produce more quality music.
The event is scheduled for 1 July 2022 at the Khomasdal Community Hall.
There is just one requirement to enter the awards. Kauandenge explained that this is due to the fact that only a few artists managed to release albums because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We, therefore, set one single criterion: that the album or single must have been released between 2020 and February 2022.”
In terms of rewards, he revealed that the prize money ranges between N$4 000 and N$10 000 per category.
The categories are best male, best female, song of the year, best gospel, best upcoming artist, best video and all-time achiever.
“We have added the category of best gospel strictly for those artists who are not necessarily Oviritje artists, but who are gospel singers,” stated Kauandenge.
He noted that the rationale behind the latter is that just like the Oviritje genre, gospel artists are not promoted and appreciated fully in the country.
The award for all-time achiever aims to recognise those pioneers who paved the way, modernised the Oviritje genre, and made it popular in Namibia and beyond.
One of the nominees, Kaijombere Ndjavera, also known as ‘The Head’, said he appreciates the hosting of the event because the industry has been quiet for some time, and there is a need to resuscitate it.
“For promotional purposes, this event will come in handy, and I like the fact that someone has taken the initiative to do something. It’s a start, and worth acknowledging,” enthused Ndjavera, who has six albums under his belt since entering the industry in 2006 with his Afrogospel mix.
Meanwhile, Kauandenge indicated that he has taken out funeral policies for three veteran Oviritje artists who have been at the helm of this genre since the early 90s.
This was done for the mere fact that the music industry in Namibia is not sustaining.
“I saw first-hand how many of these artists died broke. Many of them died without a cent. Even the coffin to be buried in becomes a burden to their families. So, again, out of my own free will and compassion, I have taken out funeral policies for the three of them.”
Kauandenge is adamant that this will ensure that on their passing, their families will not run around looking for funds for their funerals.