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The 2010s: A Decade In Namibian Film, Music and Theatre

An overview of the films, music and theatre productions that defined the 2010s decade.

At the beginning of 2010 music, film and theatre was a struggling business, 10 years later, it is still a struggling business but at least now, quality and substance is the standard. This decade has seen a lot of improvement for the Namibian film industry, and if the years 2018 and 2019 specifically are anything to go by, the 2020s decade is going to be even better and Namibia’s entertainment industry is getting well aligned with the rest of the world.

Capturing a decade in a single article is not easy, but with the input from industry spectators Faith Haushona-Kavamba (Journalist), Rodelio Lewis (Radio Host) and Netumbo ‘Mickey’ Nekomba (Journalist) and myself, we are going to attempt to give you a glimpse of Namibian film, music and theatre in the 2010s decade.

Film

The local film industry is growing from strength to strength as there is an improvement in produced content and narratives. New creative and innovative players penetrating the film market are also on the rise and the more experienced guys finally get the importance of quality production.

However, the greatest challenge to the Namibian Film industry still faces is the lack of consistent film funding and corporate/investor buy-in. Large budget films are largely still funded by the Namibia Film Commission. Naturally, this is the main reason the industry is growing at a slower pace but there have been pretty good films produced in this decade.

What We Liked

  • Coming Home (2014), by Miranda Stein
  • Katutura (2015) by Florian Schott
  • #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm (2019) by Tim Heubscle
  • 100 Bucks (2012) by Oshosheni Hiveluah
  • Baxu and the Giants (2019) by Florian Schott
  • The White Line (2019), (2019) by Desiree Kahikopo
  • Tjiraa (2012) by Krischka Stoffels
  • Hairareb (2019) by Oshoveli Shipoh

Faith’s favourites: Tjiraa, Katutura, 100 Bucks.  “I didn’t really like the storyline of Katutura, but I have to admit it was a visually appealing film. It was a top-notch Namibian production and had a really talented cast. 100 Bucks was simple yet appealing because it simply tracked how money travels from the claws of the wealthy to the palms of the poor. Another local production that was ahead of its time was Tjiraa because it addressed the seldom-discussed issue of arranged marriages and marital rape in this country. It is still very relevant today.”

Rodelio’s favourites: Katutura, #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm, Coming Home. “Katutura spearheaded the standards of what quality can and should look like when it comes to Namibian films and the film showcased the talent of Namibian actors in a way that I’ve never seen it before. It really was a game-changer and from the onset, I perceived the local film industry in a new light. #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm changed my understanding of what beauty really looks like when it comes to our country; it invited you into what makes Namibia so diverse and so appealing. #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm also showed you that there are very compelling stories that need to be told. Also, that is one badass action thriller! In Coming Home, I saw Odile Gertze acting for the first time and I was just blown away by her acting skills. I was like ‘this girl deserves to be in international films’. Coming Home has a very powerful storyline too.”

Mickey’s favourites: The White Line, Katutura. “I would watch The White Line over and over again. It stole my heart with its incredible visuals and a powerful portrayal of an interracial couple in the apartheid era. Katutura had everyone talking. There were so many screenings when it first premiered, that most of the venues were full and it was difficult to see it! When I eventually did, I was quite amazed. What a wonderful movie.”

In terms of technical aesthetics in film, 2019 has been a great year. Compared to the poor visual appeal, horrible sound quality or that one horrible telenovela filter short the decade started with, there has been a major improvement in the technical quality of films. Listen, even the narratives and acting in our films is better these days. Baxu and the Giants and The White Line are not only well received nationally, but internationally the films are also having a feast, enjoying major attention from film festivals and audiences alike. #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm and Hairareb are also doing well for themselves and were beautiful and well-executed films, especially #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm.

Special Mentions

  • Encore (2019), a short film by Senga Brockerhoff
  • Looking For Iilonga (2011), a short film by Tim Heubscle
  • Everything Happens For A Reason (2014), a short film by Florian Schott
  • Salute! (2018), a feature  by Philippe Talavera
  • Tjitji – The Himba Girl (2014), a short film by Oshosheni Hiveluah
  • The Date (2019), a short film by Mikiros Garoes

Music

Music is probably the most consumed facet of the Namibian entertainment industry and most credit goes to music fans who have kept expectations high, prompting musicians to up their game. The introduction of the Namibian Annual Music Awards in 2011 is also another factor for the massive growth in Namibian music. The technological advances and the rise of seasoned and new- especially new- music industry influences defined the 2010s decade, musically.

Over the span of the past 10 years, many Namibian musicians have made their mark nationally and internationally, with various collaborations, awards and performances.

What We Liked

  • Boss Madam – (Sally Boss-Madam)
  • Swagga (Gazza)
  • Aalumentu (PDK)
  • Zoom Zoom – (Lady May)
  • Penduka (Gazza ft. Mandoza)
  • Thando Iwam (DJ Bojo Mujo ft. Tequila)
  • Warakata (One Blood)
  • Johny (TopCheri)
  • Khâimâ (KK ft Tswazis)
  • Chelete (Gazza)
  • National Address (LSD)

Mickey’s Favourites: Penduka, Thando Iwam, Warakata. “I love my daily dose of local music! Penduka’s release was an epic time in Namibian music. Five seconds in the song and you already know what’s about to go down. It is classic! In 2011, DJ Bojo Mujo and Tequila created a storm with Thando Iwam. There was hardly a place you could step into without hearing “if I marry you, will you marry me?” There’s no doubt this song will continue to create an impact. As for Warakata, One Blood came, they saw and they conquered. No matter what tribe you are, you danced to this song. I absolutely love this hit.”

Faith’s favourites: Boss Madam, Swagga, Aalumentu. “Although we already knew Sally, Boss Madam was the hit that cemented her as the queen of afro-fusion; it was fresh, unexpected and just what we needed on the airwaves. I’m not a Kwaito fan but there was just something about Swagga that I loved. It wasn’t anything like I’d heard from Gazza before. It’s not every day that you hear a cow mooing in the intro of a song, and that immediately grabs your attention and that happens in the intro of Aalumentu. It’s unfortunate that it was so underrated but it’s a great song that shows unity and pride, and dare I say more relevant today than when it was released because we are seeing divisive/tribalist rhetoric being spewed more than ever.”

Rodelio’s favourites:  Zoom Zoom, Boss Madam, National Address. “It’s no lie that I love Sally Boss Madam, and after seeing her perform live, I stalked her and found that Boss Madam song. I saw the respect she has for her craft. Boss Madam is still a hit and Sally understands longevity when it comes to music. Zoom Zoom was and is still a boss song. Plus the music video slaps. Our current economic and political climate is in a very fragile state and it’s important for everyone’s voice to be heard. The group LSD, came together and created an anthem and music video that carries a powerful message that amplifies the frustrations’ faced by the Namibian youth and everyone else as well. National Address carries an important social message and what’s great is you’re still able to twerk and live your best life to the song.”

Songs like Chelete, Johny and Khâimâ define the road to triumph in Namibian music. Musicians continue to create a soundscape that draws from, rap, dancehall, reggae, hip-hop, afro-pop, jazz, hip-hop, otjivire and pop and we are totally here for it. The 2010s decade was a great start and with the looming decade, the possibilities for growth are endless, especially with the growing artistry in Namibian music.

Special Mentions

  • Inotila (Tate Buti)
  • Saka (PDK ft. Top Cheri, King Elegant and Athawise)
  • Go to Malawi (Exit feat. Neslouw & ML)
  • Young, Wild And Free (Sunny Boy)
  • I believe (Linda ft Petersen)
  • Boom Boom (Freeda)
  • Swaai (Twasis ft. Adora)
  • I Promise (Jerico)
  • Everything Happens For A Reason (Lize Ehlers)
  • Wumwe Tati Kalako (Mushe feat Tequila/Tekla)
  • Netira (Kalux)
  • Chip in, Chip Out (King Tee Dee)
  • Tala (Lioness)
  • Kaandjetu (Jomolizo Ft Liina)
  • Fikulimwe (Young T)
  • Fantastic Sam (Lize Ehlers)
  • Nuka (King Tee Dee ft. Chesta)
  • No longer Slaves (Nam Gospel United)
  • Drowning In My Feelings (Y’Cliff)
  • Net So (Sally Boss Madam)
  • Numba Numba (Big Ben)
  • Twamana (Blacksheep)
  • Lost (Micheal Pulse)
  • Money (Gazza ft. Lady May)
  • Ethimbo (Oteya)

Theatre

Although only having been exposed to theatre in this decade, Namibian theatremakers made sure Namibia enjoys the ancient craft in its finest form. When the decade started in 2010, theatre was really something you’d only see in schools. Mainstream theatre was poorly attended and only enjoyed by ‘theatre nerds’. Also, not much was happening in the theatre fraternity. If you were a theatre lover, you’d go months without seeing a quality theatre play, but as the years stretched on, theatre productions became more and more frequent.

Since 2015, theatre has been on an upward trajectory and the appetite for theatre grew as dramas and musicals became popular with more and more people. This decade has seen a range of locally written and international plays produced and performed with quality and zest. As it stands, theatre has a large number of loyal theatregoers who enjoy seeing live performances from some of Namibia’s finest theatre actors.

What We Liked

  • Die Stoep (2019) by Jonathan Sasha
  • Meme Mia (2013) by Sandy Rudd
  • Lammie Beukes (2014) by Senga Brockerhoff
  • Prime Colours (2014) by Zindri Swartz)
  • The Shebeen Queen by Nashilongweshipwe Mushandja
  • Battered (2019) by Donald Matthys
  • The Nuthouse (2018) by Lloyd Winini
  • Ominous (2016) by Jenny Kandenge
  • Fences (2018) by Nelago Shilongoh
  • Meet Me at Dawn (2019) Sandy Rudd

Rodelio’s favourites: Prime Colours, Die Stoep, Meme Mia. “Prime Colours was one of the first multimedia productions, incorporating an LGBTIQ+ narrative in a way that sparked dialogue and opened the door for much-needed healing. It also got me my first two Namibian Theatre and Film nominations and win as a professional actor. Meme Mia inspired me to better my craft and I knew I wanted to one day work with Sandy Rudd, a dream that came true in 2018. Die Stoep invited the coloured and baster community’s lives and truths to the table, with the cast, director/writer, musical director and stage Manger all being coloured and baster, this all Afrikaans play was very loved sold out all 3 nights.”

Mickey’s Favourite: Die Stoep. “After watching Die Stoep, many audience members left the National Theatre of Namibia’s Backstage with tears, which shows how much of an emotional impact it had on all of us. It will remain one of the best plays of 2019.”

Faith’s favourites: Meme Mia, The Sheebeen Queen, Battered. “Sandy Rudd is a force to be reckoned with, she reimagined the classic Mama Mia to suit the Namibian audience instead of regurgitating what we had already seen. Her cast was insanely talented, which just made the play all more magical. Jacques Mushaandja’s debut play, The Shebeen Queen, was spectacular, he had a young vibrant cast, and most importantly the play gave us a glimpse into sheebeen life and unemployment. He was ahead of his time. Sex work is work, a woman has the right to make her own reproductive choices (including whether or not to have an abortion) and LGBTQ rights are a basic human right. Battered brought some of these issues to the forefront, not to mention that it had a stellar cast that brought it all to life.”

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A scene from Die Stoep. (Image: NTN)

In this decade, Namibian theatremakers have adapted numerous world plays such as Mama Mia (Meme Mia), Fences, District Six, and Meet Me At Dawn and the delivery of these productions was stellar. Local writers and directors used the theatre stage to bring comic relief and tackle social issues and productions like The Nuthouse and Daddy’s Girls have been nothing short of pure magnificent theatre. Every year, the National Theatre of Namibia is investing lots of financial assistance in the art of theatre and the creation of local stories and the organisation deserves a nod for its continuous investment into the craft. Smaller theatre venues and theatre organisations also reap the benefits of the growing theatregoer culture Namibians are developing. The 2020s are very promising!

Special Mentions

  • ‘Revere Them Those Men’ (2014) by Hafeni Muzanima
  • The Teacher (2012) by Frederick Philander
  • Daddy’s Girls (2018) by Jenny Kandenge
  • Every Woman (2019) by Senga Brockerhoff
  • Thinning Lines (2018) by Ndakalako Shilongo
  • Tales of Roses in Concrete (2018) by Ashwyn Mberi
  • Three Women and You (2018) by David Ndjavera
  • Aspoestertjie (2017) Abraham Pieters
  • A Raisin in the Sun (2018) by Sepiso Mwange
  • Fell (2017) by Blessing Mbonambi & Junelle Mbonambi – Stroh
  • Madam President (2017) by Keamogetsi Joseph Molapong
  • District Six (2017) by Tanya Terblanche