World Music Day June 29, 2007Posted by isabelleinnamibia in Culture, Danger, Education, Namibia, Oh..interesting, Time out, Windhoek.
The 21st Of June is World Music Day. Originally founded in France in 1982, as Fête de la Musique, it is held each year in many countries across the world, celebrating the diversity of music from all different corners of the world. And Namibia is no different. Well, a little maybe. For starters, the Namibian World Music Day was held on Saturday 23rd, typically late, and it was more a celebration of Namibian music as opposed to that of other countries.
Being originally founded by the French, the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre (FNCC, a fine establishment offering art and French classes, hosting many shows and exhibitions of local and international artists and boasting a rather good library) sponsored the all-day event. So after a walk around the shops in town, we went to have a peek at the day-time event, a free music show at the amphitheatre at Zoo Park (a lovely little park in the centre of town, with rather odd animals statues scattered around). The thump from the sound system could be felt before we even reached the bustling crowd that we squeezed through to get a view of the acts. We found some space at the front of the amphitheatre, huddled amongst families enjoying the music in the sun.
The musical performances were…unusual to say the lease. As we arrives, a duo were on stage, lip-syncing to some popular R’n’B track, whilst the girl gyrated her hips and her male counterpart deviated from the script with interjected “Yo”s and general grunts. This was followed up by a 4-piece boy band, lip-syncing to a song that they clearly didn’t write, acting out dramatic semi-synchronised dance moves that they had probably copied from the Backstreet Boys. They certainly looked the part of wannabe-gangstas, with over-sized T-shirts and market bling, and the girls in the crowd were screaming and jumping up and down as if Jay-Z was on stage. Following that, Monica the Fighter set forth to entertain us. A strong sexy lady, dressed to provoke, her performance was like an out-take from X-Factor, but without Simon Cowell to tell her just how awful she was. After performing her first track in English, she repeated it just as appallingly in Oshivambo, which even the crowd did not appreciate. The whole thing was a bit like a local talent show as opposed to the national celebration of music, with acts just not coming on stage, technical break-downs and a rather stilted performance. But it was entertaining, and let some smaller acts show off their stuff.
The evening event was a little different however. The FNCC were hosting some of Namibia’s largest acts at a free event in the town centre. It was packed, with young people bustling around, hanging out and drinking. This was a much more organised showcase of local artists, playing a mixture of reggae, kwaito (aka “township music”), pop, rock and r’n’b, to a young crowd who don’t normally have the chance to see their favourite artists play live. Bizarrely, at one point an overweight white Namibian man came on stage, dressed up like a diva, and lip-synced to opera for 15 minutes, which wasn’t quite what the crowd was looking for.
Unfortunately, without a cover on the door and poor security, it also meant a few undesirable characters were hanging around, demonstrating all kinds of pick-pocketing and mugging techniques (hence no pictures of this event), as well as being a nuisance. As the night wore on, the crowd got more rowdy, all in anticipation for Gazza, the Kwaito King and most popular artist amongst Namibians. At 11.30pm, the Mc announced that Gazza had not yet arrived, and so we took this opportunity to move on before the crowd got nasty. We’ll try to see him play another time.
All in all, it was a great day of music, with smaller shows happening around the country, and bigger ones around the world. It was also a night for bumping into friends and old and new faces, and a great change from our normal hangouts. Amongst the crowd was a group visiting from a UK university who are volunteering here this summer. Having just arrived they were full of the love of Namibia, which I haven’t felt strongly in a while – not that I don’t like it here, but that it’s been worn down by heavy doses of reality. But that night, I felt it came back, enjoying a night out with friends, amongst a busy crowd (which is very rare over here), listening to local talent and being part of something Namibian. I woke up the next morning and thought, “Yeah, I’m in Namibia”, which I had in the first few months I was here, but not so much recently. It might have been the diversity of the Namibian music culture (good and bad!) that I’d seen, or witnessing heel-clicking adoration for this country or just having a whole day relaxing outside, but it certainly put spring back in my step. I’m looking forward to checking out more gigs whilst I’m here. I’m even off to one tonight!
So wherever you are, remember to check out World Music Day next year, as you never know what delights or wonders you might find.