GOBABIS: Musicians based in the Omaheke Region have raised objections against their exclusion from the recent Omaheke Trade Fair, which ended last week.
The musicians alleged that the organising committee had intentionally sidelined them from performing at a music show held on the second day of the trade fair, instead opting to hire artists from Windhoek for the showcase.
Prominent local musician Steven Araeb, who represents up to 15 Omaheke-based music groups, told Nampa on Wednesday that unlike the hired musicians from Windhoek who perform using a Compact Disc (CD) for backing instruments, most groups here play live instruments during shows.
The trade fair’s organising committee apparently invited local kwaito frontrunner The Dogg as well as Exit and Dixon to grace the stages of the event, overlooking a number of Omaheke-based artists performing in the same genres.
Araeb said all his members are registered with the Namibian Society for Composers and Authors of Music (Nascam), as per industry requirements.
According to him, they were told by the organising committee of the trade fair that they were not well-known and would as such not attract a huge crowd, which was one of the objectives of the business showcase.
“We were just told that we are not that well-known, but how did they determine that? They did not even request auditions so that they could see what talent is available here,” he charged.
In response to the musicians’ concerns, the deputy chairperson of the Omaheke Trade Fair’s organising committee, Platini Katjaoha said no favouritism was employed during the selection of the musicians who performed during the event.
Katjaoha said the prime objective of the trade fair was to allow local entrepreneurs in all sectors of the economy to showcase their products, and thereby grow their businesses.
“We were transparent in all our doings, and at no stage did we compromise the objectives, purpose and intent of the trade fair by favouring one group of business people over another,” he noted.
He said artists chosen to perform were selected on merit alone, as the committee could not entertain the overwhelming response from musicians who wanted to grace the event.
“This was only the first edition of the trade fair. I am sure our artists here will still have a chance to make their mark with further editions of the trade fair.
They should not lose hope, the trade fair is there for everyone, and their turn will surely come,” he explained.
The Omaheke artists have since decided to organise themselves in a bid to ensure that they all get a share of the tiny market by forming the Omaheke Arts and Culture Association (OACA).
Araeb said they are still working out the modalities of this, but promised that they are ready to move forward as a unit.
The Omaheke Trade Fair took place from 21 to 26 September this year.