Namibian Broadcasting Corporation director general Stanley Similo recently made remarks that got me thinking. In his own words: “If we as Namibians do not have our own content, we will be subjected to viewing content that is not ours, and our stories will not be told”. To be brutally honest, I don’t believe Namibians give a rat’s a$$. I believe the average Namibian does not mind consuming stories that are not ours. I believe the average Namibian enjoys foreign stories and content. I believe the average Namibian is at a point where they identify with foreign content, especially South African, more than Namibian content.
So, if the strategy for Abuti Stanley was to “scare” Namibians into thinking that the Namibian identity will be lost, unfortunately the truth is, it has already lost and people don’t care that it’s lost. The problem is – all the screaming, shouting, activism is coming from people in the industry; people who are involved directly or indirectly with the arts and entertainment industry. The noise is not coming from the average Namibian. The political establishment knows this very well, hence you will hardly hear politicians of the governing party advocate for the arts.
The game of politics is pretty straightforward – People = political power. Politicians understand this concept. So, if people are not making noise about a certain issue, you bet your last pension dollar that you will not hear politicians talk about it. As a matter of fact, the few times politicians of the governing party would raise their voice on a certain issue that is not that “pertinent”, you’d see a flood of comments from the average Namibian saying “Is this news?” “We have bigger issues to worry about?”.
If you need any more convincing, maybe you need to think about this. When was the last time the presidency said anything about the arts in Namibia? A young ka comment? A press statement? Something during a press conference?
How many Namibian projects like visual arts and films have begged international awards in the last five years? ‘Hairareb’ recently won an award from the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards. Was there any congratulatory message issued by the presidency? No really, think about it. Nothing comes to mind right? What does that tell you? It breathes life into my perspective. It’s cold and unpleasant but that’s the truth hidden in plain sight.
And yes, it does seem like I am picking on the presidency but that should really not be the point. The point that I am making is that the office of the president dictates what the average Namibian will talk about. The office of the president has the power to influence your average Namibian’s thought process. It’s the most influential and powerful office in the country. It’s a point of reference. So, if that office is not talking about it, no one will and anyone who does care enough to talk about it will come across as crazy. I promise you, Abuti Alfredo Hengari won’t even bother issuing a response on behalf of the presidency. And you know, he is about that life.
Until political will power is demonstrated to bring the arts into the conversation, remarks from Abuti Stanley and the people involved in the industry directly or indirectly will disappear like a fart in the wind. The political establishment from the governing party needs to ignite the conversation. The political establishment from the governing party needs to consciously vouch for the arts. That’s the only way Namibians will be uncomfortable with being comfortable with foreign content along with a lack of a homegrown identity. Until such time, the efforts sadly will be futile.
Until the next Loop, we say #GMTM
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