“African art embodies the spirit of community, with each creation representing a collective effort and shared wisdom,” Ben Okri As an ardent advocate for the arts, it is disheartening to witness the profound artistic void that exists within our regions. The absence of functional art facilities, let alone museums, in many areas is a stark reality. To compound this issue, a simple Google search for art facilities, like museums, in places such as Oshakati, yields paltry and insufficient results. This should never be regarded as the norm, for the lack of such establishments not only douses the creative flames but also stifles the dreams of aspiring young artists in our midst.
Let us remember that each region in Namibia possesses its unique tapestry of natural wonders, deserving recognition and celebration. While it may be true that established art facilities tend to gravitate towards high-tourism hotspots, this should not translate into a lack of support and funding for the arts in regions considered less travelled. Every region holds the potential to nurture artistic talent and inspire creativity. Art is not confined to select locations; it should be a beacon of opportunity for every Namibian, regardless of where they call home.
In the thriving creative sectors of music, film, and theatre that flourish at the heart of Windhoek, we witness commendable progress in enhancing these artistic forms. Yet, as we celebrate these achievements, we must pause to reflect on whether we have adequately addressed the aspirations of the youth across our diverse regions who yearn to participate in these creative realms.
Currently, many young artists find themselves at a crossroads: they must either uproot their lives and migrate to the creative hubs or suppress their artistic talents. This predicament is not only inconvenient but also untenable. If we are truly committed to nurturing and expanding the creative landscape in all corners of our nation, a profound shift in regional attitudes is necessary.
Art in all its facets, should be embraced not merely as a form of self-expression, but also as a pathway to employment and a means of sharing the collective wisdom amassed over generations. It is our duty to provide our youth with the opportunity to delve into and appreciate the rich histories of their respective regions. By doing so, they gain insight into the trials and tribulations that have forged their communities. Empowering regional artistic endeavors not only celebrates the diversity of our nation but also ensures that every Namibian, regardless of their geographic origin, has the chance to flourish.
The moment has arrived for our diverse regions to unleash their artistic potential across various domains, be it in literature, visual arts, or the more abstract forms. As the wise Cesar Cruz has proclaimed, “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” These words resonate deeply, reminding us of art’s profound impact on the human soul. It’s a rallying cry for us to rekindle the flame of artistic identity, which, sadly, has languished on the periphery of our national consciousness. Our nation is a mosaic of unique regions, each possessing a distinct cultural tapestry waiting to be painted with the vibrant colors of creativity. It’s through the medium of art that we can amplify the voices and stories of every corner of our beloved land.
* Sarah Anghuwo is an advocate for the arts