My heart blossomed (though double-edged...) when I read that 150 dancers pitched for auditions to the 2nd edition of the MTC knockout project recently. As a former dancer and active choreographer...it makes me happy to see that the dance culture is alive and well in the land reserved for the brave. Considering the fact that those auditions were limited to the capital...one can’t help but speculate on what could’ve been the total number if it was a national effort? Easily in its thousands, I believe.
However, if you look a little deeper into the dance culture, you’d see that there is virtually no trace of anything Namibian. Hence why I said double-edged in the beginning because as much as I am happy that the dance culture, a Namibian way of life is alive and well, truth is that our dancing is heavily foreign-influenced.
A 15-minute look at it and you will find that virtually every upload on Instagram is a Namibian dancer dancing to a South African and international pop and Hip Hop. A 15-minute look into the culture and you will find that the dance moves are highly foreign because they are dancing on South African and international pop and Hip Hop. A 15-minute look into it and you will find that the slang and moniker mirror the South African or international pop and hip hop cultures. There’s virtually no presence of the Namibian sound, moves, or slang.
I take my hat off to people like Spuzza and Chester House prince who are trying very hard to get the Namibian dancers to fuxks with Namibian. However, even their music is heavily South African influenced. One could argue that “Kwaito” dancing was always a Namibian way of life. But do we not realise that Kwaito has its origins in South Africa? Are we saying that the South African way of life is but also the Namibian way of life? What would be the authentic Namibian way of life?
I challenge a narrative that argues that the Namibian sound is not as nearly as entertaining and cool as the South African or international pop and Hip Hop sound. Then my friend you have never been to a Damara Pantsi/Ma/gaisa concert. Clearly, you’ve never experienced an Oviritje concert. Even those born again Pentecostal concerts are lit where you’d see people dancing “follow the leader” snake style with compelling beats anchored by a live band. Perhaps the Namibian sound does not have that cool factor that will appeal to the current generation that is at the forefront of the dance culture in Namibia? Whose job would it be to bring about this cool appeal? Radio stations? Print media? How about you just take responsibility for your art and take it upon yourself to bring about that certain cool to the fore.
My hope is that dance challenges find its home in Namibian music and art. My hope is that we take pride in our own and elevate it to the rest of the continent. We will never be better than South Africans at being South African. No South African will give you the day and time in their commercial circles because they believe in their own. We can only be best at being Namibian because that’s who we are. My hope is that the dance culture in Namibia becomes Namibian.
Until the next loop, we say “GMTM”!
NSK is a professional MC. For bookings, email firstname.lastname@example.org