Ramblings of an imminent storm are audible in the circles of Namibian literary art.
Namibian authors, playwrights, poets and other artists in the creative word sector are not happy with the manner in which Namibian literature has been treated as the bastard child of the art industry.
Last week a prominent artist lashed out at the political managers of the art institutions of Namibia by writing an open letter in the New Era newspaper in which he vented his anger and frustration.
“I am writing to you from my position as an independent artist/writer/poet, and a member of the National Arts Council of Namibia (NACN),” wrote Prince Kamaazengi Marenga I. “I sincerely welcome the Covid-19 Relief Fund that you are currently putting together for the lucky artists/the incredible circle of friends who will get it during this coronavirus crisis.
“But I am not excited.
“Based on numerous experiences and dealings with the NACN, we anticipate this great initiative to eventually waff off into the thick air of the well-managed corruption out there before it benefits artists.
“I mean, it is no secret that the National Arts Council of Namibia had to be closed for a number of years due to funds embezzlement and corruption (…)”
Marenga I’s issue boiled over to social media where concerns were raised about the continuing abysmal situation of literature funding in Namibia. Even today (21 July 2020) the issue continued to simmer on social media.
“‘The Artists are not organized…’ is the insult we have endured for so many years and as a result we have been sidelined and denied proper funding,” commented Keamogetsi Molapong, the author of the recently published poetry book ‘A Poem to the President’.
“Because of this notion adopted by the line ministry, through its directorates, the arts has been deliberately failed and kept on the shortest of leashes.
“By declaring that the ‘Artists are not organized’ funding has been kept and handed selectively to those that shout in silence and are flexible enough to be acrobatic, to be ‘exposed’, to sponge lies and total control of their being, their souls.
“For the rest of us, we are just disgruntled artists, who don’t know how to appreciate exploitation and little crumbs dished out by the Directorate of Arts. We are not worthy the funds availed to the Arts through national grants.”
Another artist, Borro Ndungula, also vented his anger on the same social media platform by commenting as follows: “We must expose and insult the corrupt Directorate of Arts. Time to challenge Artrot. I have the poem on Ritha Hoffmeyer. She thinks she is the art expert. I never liked her. The current directorate only helps her friends.”
“… apparently a leisure time diversion!” commented Professor Aldo Behrens.
People who “liked” these comments were: Nhlanhla Oupa Mpofu, Amanda Kubuitsile, Ndapanda Nyandi, Nashilongweshipwe Mushaandja, Borro Ndungula, Augeto Graig, Aldo Behrens, and Christi Warner.
Omutumwa will look for a comment from the Directorate of Arts in the Ministry of Basic Education, Arts and Culture.
IN THE PHOTO: Are several books by self-published authors, displayed at the National Library. (Photo, by Mwatala Namwandi)