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20 years of chasing shadows for artists union

Widely believed to be a toothless bulldog that somewhere forgot it can bite, artists union, Oruuano has had to defend its existence to members and simply been ignored by government and stakeholders more so now when artists are counting the losses of COVID – 19 in their pockets. 

While they were founded on solid principles of bettering the lives of artists, Oruuano has been chasing shadows more than it has been impacting positively on its members. 

Despite being in existence for 20 years, It has been hard to toil for the union whose members are languishing as one of the neglected lot. The artists union is also failing to convince themselves of their relevance and blames everyone but themselves for failure to deliver. 

President of the Oruuano union created in 1998, to stand for the rights of artists in Namibia, Banana Shekupe admits that it has not been an easy journey finding assistance for the many who rely on their creative talent for survival.

Shekupe said all their efforts to get remedies for challenges from both the National Art Council of Namibia and other stakeholders in the arts industry have been ignored.

“The lack of a strong regulatory framework to promote local artists is another challenge facing the industry. Interviews with various stakeholders revealed that whilst there are a few laws in place that promote arts and culture, they are insufficient,” he said.

Shekupe also added that despite efforts being made to push for the proliferation of local music on the airwaves I have not been easy to be recognised by most radio stations who have to balance between local and international content.

 “A law that makes it mandatory for public and private broadcasters to allocate a certain percentage of their air time to local artists is needed. This challenge is partly being addressed by the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) which introduced a policy that makes it mandatory for radio DJs to allocate 50 % of their music shows to local music,” he said.

He told unwrap.online that despite being recognised by the government through the responsible ministry, their calls for funding to sustain their operations and to push for the betterment of the lives of artists in Namibia continue to fall on deaf ears.

According to Oruuano there is also a need for foreign producers to transfer skills to Namibians.

“A law that makes it mandatory for foreign film producers to ensure that there is skills transfer to the local industry as part of the conditions that allow them to use the country as a shooting location is needed. A minimum wage agreement to protect all artists from exploitation is needed as local artists do not have the financial resources to market or sell their products abroad,” he said.

While denying the notion that the union has failed to make an impact in the lives of artists, Shekupe also said their challenges have since been worsened by a failure to reach out to the National Arts Council of Namibia.


The union currently has a call for creatives of all disciplines to submit their names to be registered onto its database for future engagements that benefit both stakeholders. 



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