Next Ma /Gaisa StarContest Gears Up For Grand Finale

The next Ma /Gaisa Star competition is currently enjoying its breakthrough season.

The event, which was launched by Welwitschia Music Production in 2021, has attracted a record of close to 400 entries in only its third season.

As a result, the organisers deemed it necessary to open the season with a top 40 stage, instead of the traditional top 20 stage that kickstarted the first two seasons.

The organisers on Saturday announced the eight contestants who will battle it out in the grand finale of the competition on 26 April.

The top eight finalists are Erns ‘Wallace’ Willemse (Swakopmund), Laticia ‘Nadine’ Urikhos (Swakopmund), Eunice ‘Latifa’ //­Garoes (Rehoboth), Shantal ‘Koekie Koek Kaisames’ Karongo (Henties Bay), Queenton ‘Fortune’ Somaeb (Karibib), Lesley ‘Katzaofame’ Katzao (Rehoboth), Rodney ‘Scoopy Doo’ !Naibab (Windhoek) and Daniel ‘Ivotitage’ /­Oxurub (Okahandja).

“We are absolutely thrilled with the impact the competition is starting to make on the local entertainment scene. The interest that the public has shown this season has grown tenfold and that is very overwhelming for us,” says the event’s co-founder, Stella !Naruses.

“Last season we had just over 2 000 public engagements on our Facebook platform, but we can proudly announce that we recorded a little more than 10 000 so far this season,” she adds.

The competition, which discovered season one winner Mervin ‘Marvtown’ Claassen and last year’s season two winner Lourencious ‘Larco’ Nanub, will crown the season three winner during what is expected to be a spectacular event.

“We are now at stage eight of the competition, which is the decisive phase, where the last eight contestants will perform live on stage and on NBC TV. Up to last week the contestants have only been sending in video recordings,” explains the event organiser and !Naruses’ husband, Steven !Naruseb.

“Now we are going to have the chance to see what they are made of and if they are indeed the very same people who have been sending us their videos in the previous stages of the event. The lines will be open and the public must vote for their favourite artists,” he says.

!Naruseb explains that the progression of the last eight to the finale depended 40% on the judges, while 60% was decided by the public vote.

“The contestants will perform with a live band, which will give the judges sufficient time to evaluate them based on how they present themselves on stage and if they are able to perform with a band. After all, they are competing for stardom,” he says.

!Naruses, herself a performer of note, points out that this season is unique as the contestants are more determined and the competition seems to have captured the imagination of the youth, who made up the bulk of the entries.

“In the previous two seasons, the youngsters took a more watch-and-see attitude, but this time the youth came out in full force. It seems like they want to take ownership of the event and they are definitely proud to be associated with the Next Ma /Gaisa Star competition,” she says.

She points out that, for the first time since the inception of the competition, the youngest final contestant, the 18-year-old Nadine, is still attending school.

“Another surprise factor of this event is that the girls also came out very strong this season, a whole lot more than during the previous two seasons,” !Naruses says.

Self-proclaimed ma /gaisa diehard Samora Somaeb could not hide his excitement when approached to give his view on the competition.

“I am very excited about the level of competition this year. It seems like the contestants have done their homework thoroughly this time. The record number of entries also speaks volumes,” Somaeb says.

“If the competition continues to grow rapidly, we are going to see more and more sponsors on board, which can only lift the overall quality of the competition. Money makes the world go round and with more funding, the quality of the show will improve holistically,” he says.

Somaeb, a school teacher by profession, says it was a brilliant and creative idea of the organisers to ask the contestants to enter the competition by submitting videos of themselves performing.

“The participants went out of their way to market themselves and the videos are of top quality. The fact that they have to make their own videos also gives them a sense of belonging and that brings out their creativity. They are producers in the making,” says Somaeb.

The organisers could not hide their joy about the quality of editing of the videos, adding that that also improved the overall quality of the production.

!Naruses urged Namibians to be proud of ma /gaisa music, because it is one of the original Namibian music genres.

“You know what ma /gaisa music can do to you when you are in the mood for dancing. At least you can go beyond our borders and tell people that we have a genre that is our very own. Starting from the beat to the lyrics, it is originally ours,” she points out.

“The Next Ma /Gaisa Star is a concept we are hoping to expand on. We may mainly sing in the Khoekhoegowab language, but don’t be surprised to see similar competitions in Otjiherero, Oshiwambo or even Setswana. It all just requires proper planning and funding,” !Naruses says.

She adds that it has always been the organisors’ dream to make the competition bigger, but they need more people to run a competition of this magnitude.

The top eight finalists will receive voice coaching and training on how to present themselves on stage during a live performance.

They will also be provided with backup singers and dancers to add to the quality to their performances and to make the event more presentable to television viewers, as well as the loyal patrons who will grace the National Theatre of Namibia (NTN) backstage live.

Welwitschia Music Production is partnered with the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation, the National Arts Council of Namibia and the NTN.

  • Tickets can be obtained from any Pick n Pay shop countrywide or from Webtickets online.

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