2023, The Year That Was

Girley Jazama made history in the first local film to be shortlisted for an Oscar nomination.

This year was … a lot. It had its ups and downs, but in true Namibian fashion, overall fun was had. From international acts touching down in Namibia, to citizens having a collective meltdown over local song lyrics, there’s plenty that can be said about 2023.

Below we’ve done the best we can to summarise the roller-coaster year, highlighting some stand out moments in no particular order.

CREATIVES SHINE ABROAD

To start, this was a good year for Namibian personalities and creatives outside the country’s borders.

‘Under The Hanging Tree’, Perivi Katjavivi’s film starring Girley Jazama made history as the first local film to be shortlisted for an Oscar nomination. The film deals with themes related to the Nama/Herero genocide, with Jazama playing the role of a police detective investigating a strange farm death.

The musicians have been having a good year too. Waters walked away with two trophies from the Eminent Video Music Awards held in Johannesburg, South Africa. He scooped the Best Cinematography Video and the Best International Video awards.

Azmo Nawe, the young amapiano vocalist behind Musketeer’s song ‘Danko’, performed the hit in Johannesburg nightclubs at the beginning of the year.

Gazza made his return to the United States years after his hit ‘Wambo To New York’, came out with a collaborative performance with the Alabama School of Fine Arts orchestra.

Sean Kamati, who has been living abroad for a few years, made the nation proud with his stint on ‘X Factor Malta’. His unforgettable voice and charm took him far and helped bring attention to his burgeoning career.

Gina Jeanz

While Gina Jeanz continues to break barriers and open doors for Namibian artists, not just in Africa but internationally, this year she played sets in Albania, Morocco, Germany, China, Ibiza, Switzerland (where she is based) and Kosovo, and was featured by Spotify Africa.

Performance artist, poet and musician Nashilongweshipwe Mushaandja was one of three live entertainers to take to the streets of Switzerland for a music and art production.

He was joined by visual artist’s Hage Mukwendje and Nambowa Malua who complemented the sounds with live painting.

More of Namibian visual art was celebrated this year at the Fotogalerie Friedrichshain in Berlin, with the debut of a Namibian collective photo exhibition in Berlin.

The theme of the collection, which first debuted in Windhoek last year, was ‘Home Of Mine’, through which participants expressed what felt like home to them.

Then there’s actress and media personality Prisca Anyolo’s venture into entrepreneurship, with the launch of her own brand, Prisca Beauty in Dubai. The young talent recently relocated to the Arab city.

Television wise, Luis Munana knocked the ball out of the park with his appearance on the Netflix reality show ‘Young, Famous and African’. It was stressful watching him at times, because it felt like he had a target on his back, but he managed to defend himself gracefully, never lose his cool and come out on top. Through this he gained major international attention and secured his place in many hearts.

Actress and entrepreneur Tjuna Kauapirura made waves when she wrapped the production of her highly anticipated sci-fi film in which she will star alongside big names like Eric Roberts, Thapelo Mokoena and others from across the continent.

There’s also Rémy Ngamije, the Doek! Lit curator and author of ‘The Eternal Audience Of One’. This year he won the Morland African Writing Scholarship, a grant of US$18 000 (more than N$334 000) awarded to four African writers to allow them to take a year off to complete a book. Ngamije celebrated this feat and sees it as a great opportunity to explore his passion.

SUPPORTING OUR OWN

Lastly, we cannot look past the glorious achievements of our pageant queens and the work they’ve done abroad to share the beauty of Namibia with the world.

Jameela Uiras

Jameela Uiras at Miss Universe and Martha Kautanevali at Miss Earth never let the crown slip, and the support from Namibians, especially for Uiras, was unprecedented.

In the world of love, wedding bells continue to ring. Producer DJ Kboz announced his engagement this year, and I know I’m not the only one trying to sneak an invite to chop this wedding.

Long-time media darling, actress, director and entrepreneur Maria Nepembe tied the knot in a super low-key, private ceremony in Windhoek. She stunned in a gorgeous gown by Ruberto Scholtz, while keeping all the major details under wraps.

Of course, there’s no celebrations without a few brawls here and there.

South African rapper Nadia Nakai trended for all the wrong reasons quite recently, for allegedly making off with a wig lent to her by a Namibian vendor.

Fashion Wins Hair Collection owner Senia Shipo took to social media this month to bash the artist who came to Namibia for a performance and needed last minute assistance from the hairstylist.

She demanded N$6 500, the cost of the “stolen” wig and the two went back and forth on X and Instagram, insulting each other. The money was eventually paid, but relations appear to remain sour.

In other beef news, Gazza seemed to have struck a nerve with Exit just last week, when he seemingly threw shade at the artist, sparking a series of insults aimed at the ‘Chelete’ singer.

After Exit failed to pull a crowd for his recently held live show, Gazza thought it would be the right time to remind fans of his own successfully held concert ‘Gazza Milli’.

Exit insulted him and called him old.

Waters

HONOURARY MENTIONS

Some things that happened that deserve an honourary mention are: the Topa Laat Ons Gaan girl finding a new avenue in life after being let go for being young and carefree; Namibians policing Ms G’s music and her transition from a gospel song to a more provocative one; Eagle FM chief executive John Walenga firing a presenter by tweeting them; the rise of Chula Chula; all the bumbling participants of the new ‘Swift 30’ game show; Multichoice premiering 13 Namibian films; “rapper” GetRich challenging Davido and 50 Cent to a boxing match and Michael Amushelelo pleading with the public to find a romantic getaway for him and his wife, and then immediately getting in trouble with the law again.

To end, let’s touch on two deaths that were hard to stomach.

Firstly, South African rapper and musician AKA was gunned down in Durban in (April), while standing in a public area with people around him. He was a favourite for many Namibians and had frequently performed in Windhoek, not to mention his popular remix of the local hit ‘Soek Soek’ by Slaughterhouze.

A major loss for the music industry was that of Araffath Muhuure. The longtime producer and industry pioneer breathed his last breath in March, after a decades-long career and becoming a mainstay in local entertainment.

– Anne Hambuda is a writer, social commentator and poet. Follow her online or email her annehambuda@gmail.com for more.

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