Namibian pop music between 1950 and 1980, in other words, the musical culture of the townships which the ruling Apartheid government attempted to suppress, is the focus of a collaboration between the Iwalewa House in Bayreuth and the Stolen Moments Group from Windhoek. Twenty-six years after Namibia democratised its society, this archival and exhibition project highlights an important aspect of Namibian collective cultural identity which censors had banned from public view and erased from official memory.
The project features several exhibition modules based on extensive research involving the collaboration with still-living musicians from that time, e.g. Baby Doeseb, Kakuja Kembale und Jackson Wahengo, all of whom hoped to revive the presumably lost repertory. One module is entitled “Pantheon of Namibian Music” which pays tribute to marginalised bands and singers with new studio recordings and newly designed album covers. Exhibition goers can listen to the voices of contemporary witnesses in the project “Radio from Outer Space”. Using analogue radios, visitors can tune in to nine different radio stations and listen to a selection of over one hundred hours of interviews with contemporary witnesses. These are accompanied by historic photos of the bands and the legendary venues of Namibia’s musical subculture. In addition to large-scale coloured photos by the photographer Stephan Zaubitzer depicting dancehall venues, a 90-minute film documentary revisits the dance styles of that period, e.g. Boymasaka, Froggy Froggy and Langarm. In the archival section of the exhibition, visitors can physically and virtually explore the entire collection of image, audio and text material using a Wiki-like encyclopaedia specifically designed for the exhibition.
The research efforts for the project began with the works by the musician Ben Molatzi. The project organisers had originally planned to have him re-record his old songs at the Pop Akademie studios in Mannheim. Unfortunately Ben Molatzi died in 2016 just days before his planned trip to Germany. The exhibition is dedicated to his memory.
Artistic directors: Aino Moongo (NA) and Ulf Vierke (DE)
Participants: Baby Doeseb (NA), Werner Hillebrecht (NA), Thorsten Schütte (DE), Hercules Viljoen (NA)
Basler Afrika Bibliographien: June 2017