Major glitch as Nam artists try to host online concert

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■ Sharon Kavhu

 

Windhoek While virtual musical concerts are becoming a norm globally, Namibian musicians just like other southern African regional talents are also adapting this model to survive.

We have had successful online concerts by artists such as King Tee Dee and Emily Dangwa when they hosted the ‘Live Stream Concert with King Tee Dee’ and ‘Live Online Opera concert with Emily Dangwa’ respectively.

However, last week, ‘The Sunny Boy Online’ musical Concert which was scheduled for Saturday May 16, 2020 did not go as planned. The concert was disrupted by law enforcement authorities who ended up arresting artists at the venue for allegedly violating the COVID-19 regulations.

Namibian songstress-Top Cheri, one of artists who had been scheduled to perform at the concert described the unfortunate event as a result of misunderstandings. She said the total number of the artistes who had come for the online concert was combined with a different event which was being done behind the venue.

“The Funky Lab has a lounge and a back area where there is a club and these two were different events. On the side where we were supposed to do the show, there were 12 or 13 people including the host, artists and their crews as well as the DJ,” narrated Top Cheri whose real name is Monica Moroki.

“It was around 2100hrs when police cars abruptly surrounded the place and during that time, I was preparing for my performance with my three crew members. The police alleged us of violating the COVID-19 regulations and we were all taken to the police station in a van. At the station we were all put in one big cell.”

She said, the total number of the people arrested combined was around 33 and were asked to write individual statements of the incidence.

Top Cheri however, admitted that she made an assumption that all procedures were in order for the show including police clearance.

She said, “I have done online concerts before without any problems. Recently I did another with King Tee Dee and it was a success. In this particular case, I just assumed everything was in order but, it happened that the owner had not sought clearance from the police.

“Initially, we were all released after the statements had been recorded around 4 to 5 am but I had to wait for my crew to be released so that I could drop them at their homes. During that time, the commissioner at the station came and requested that all who had been released should be called back or else no one goes home. People, we had to make more statements again.”

She said, they were all released with a fine of N$2 000 of which the majority did not have the money to pay it as they needed to perform on that show to get the money.

As a result those who did not have money were given a grace period of 21 days out of custody to pay the amount.

The challenge came at a time where, musicians among other professions are struggling to make a living with the social distancing measures in place to fight the spread of COVID-19

The songstress has urged the government and other stakeholders to also bear with artists during this crisis.

“People are going through depression with all that is happening due to COVID-19 and its effect on their personal finances. The situation is more serious than it seems as some of these people are now turning to drug abuse for relief,” she said.

“Clearly, our government does not prioritise the arts industry especially now. Ironically, when the government has a message that it needs disseminated to the public, it calls in artists to do songs that communicate the message. When Coronavirus came to Namibia, musicians were called to raise awareness but now we are in a crisis and yet seem to be left alone,” Top Cheri said emotionally.

In a separate interview artist and media personality, Joseph Tuhafeni Ailonga popularly known as Jossy Joss said the disruption came as a surprise. He said people in the room had their masks and no one was selling alcohol at the venue.

Jossy Joss was also at the venue to support local artists on his online show ‘Jossy in z house’. Unfortunately he was also fined for being at the venue.

“Ideally my lockdown live shows are to promote our local artists and on this particular day, I had gone to also stream the live acts to promote the performing artists. Sadly 10 minutes after our arrival, the police came and asked all of us to get out and were taken to the station. At the station we were charged for failing to comply with the orders of the authority and yet we had not refused to leave the place,” he said.

He said people were not given a chance to explain themselves.

At the station, people had different views about the matter and wanted to seek clarity. Some of the views were that at the event there was no permit and clearance from the police for the event to be held. At least the owner and host alone should have been held accountable for the offense not everyone.

Jossy Joss said, “Being an artist is a job, they need to work just as much as people in other professions need to. As such we plea to our government to reconsider the process for artists to get permits to do their live online conference in public places. For a live performance, there is need for instruments, a stage and space for performers to do their acts and that cannot be done at home.””

He said the clearance should also state the number of people to be allowed after considering what needs to be done on the show.

He added, “The process of the permit and police clearance should also be done in a matter of hours not to take 20 days or so. If the artists stop online live sessions now, they may not have any earnings from sponsors. They need the money just as much as other workers require salaries.”

Jossy Joss feels like what happened over the weekend was a bit unfair.

Online shows are fast becoming regular across southern African countries as well as across the globe. In South Africa the “Lockdown House Parties” hosted on Channel O have become a major source of entertainment weekly.

Zimbabwe weekly host the NASH TV “Lockdown show” as well as the “Gara mumba iwe concert” which was streamed live and aired on the national broadcaster.

Loosely translated, “Gara mumba iwe” is an appeal for one to stay indoors and this is well in keeping with the lockdown appeals. This is indicative of the efforts being done by artists to encourage social distancing and fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is thereby not surprising why artists in Namibia were following this trend and doing what they can to keep their fans entertained in a safe manner.

 

 

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