In spite of a lack of support from fellow Namibians for the Speak Out Seek Help (SOSH) music festival, the event took place on Saturday at the Nampower Convention Centre – and the few in attendance were treated to heartwarming ballads from local musicians. The SOSH music festival’s mandate is to raise mental health awareness among artists ahead of World Mental Health Day, which is observed today.
Organiser Naftali Shigwedha Amukwelele, popularly known as D-Naff, said putting the festival together was challenging.
“It is painful to say 90% of our people did not respond (for financial assistance). Everything you are seeing – the sound you are hearing – people from outside paid for it. Non-Namibians paid for the venue, and they are willing to continue,” he announced at the event.
A disappointed D-Naff added it is crucial for industry folks to be catalysts of change and create a conducive environment where everyone can live in harmony.
Gospel musician Manda Gabriel was the opening act. Reggae artist Ras Sheehama performed his all-time hit ‘Inotila’, Swartbaster entertained with his famous ‘Ding Dong’, while Lady May Africa and Maranatha Goroh also graced the stage with passionate performances.
Goroh told VIBEZ! it is extremely important for artists to be sincere and address issues of mental health.
“In the past years, we witnessed many people committing suicide and going through depression. When someone has lost their peace of mind, it can make them do things they would not normally do.”
She stated that many people who are suffering from mental illness do not know where to go, and they feel that when they speak up, they will be judged.
“Artists hold back or keep it to themselves and die in silence. We have seen many of them running to drugs and alcohol just to get over what they are feeling.”
Windhoek Mayor Sadé Gawanas, who was also in attendance, told VIBEZ! that in any recovery, the first step is to acknowledge the struggling or having a problem. She was pleased to hear that some artists are open to discussing mental health issues. “The disappointment is that very few people turned up – and for those who were there, the message was clear – the support structures for mental health issues and those suffering must become a priority,” shared Gawanas. Less than 200 people turned up for the event, which aimed to increase awareness around mental illness and raise funds for musicians to access mental health services.