Spreading the sound of Namibia

Limited access to markets and restricted mobility represent some of the main challenges facing artists and cultural professionals from the global South. In 2016, UNESCO’s International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD) provided financial support to the musical quartet Namibian Tales and the Museums Association of Namibia (MAN) to promote the access of Namibian musical products to new markets. As part of the project, Namibian Tales will be embarking on a European tour this summer with musicians from Namibia’s San community.

According to UNESCO’s 2018 Global Report Re|Shaping Cultural Policies, the global flow of cultural goods and services remains largely unbalanced. Data cited in the report shows that developing countries account for 25.5% of the global export of cultural goods and only 23.3% of total music goods Some of the main challenges in ensuring a more balanced flow include limited market access and restricted mobility for artists and cultural professionals from the global South.

Capacity-development trainings and international performances are some of the approaches that can help mitigate these obstacles, opening new market opportunities for artists while ensuring that a diverse range of music is available to audiences worldwide.

Opening market access

Namibian Tales, an Amsterdam-based project led by singer and guitar player Shishani Vranckx and percussionist Sjahin During, has been working in association with the Museums Association of Namibia (MAN) and with the support of UNESCO’s IFCD to promote San and Namibian music internationally. As a major operational branch of the 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions the IFCD aims at strengthening cultural and creative industries in developing countries.

Part of the project’s efforts to professionalize the music industry in Namibia has focused on the elaboration of music management and marketing workshops aimed at equipping the San community with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the global music market.  Namibian Tales is also currently working with the relevant Directorates of Namibia’s Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture on the creation of an online database and network to facilitate the promotion of Namibian music at the international level.

A musical meeting

In September 2017, Namibian Tales released a critically-acclaimed collaborative album with musicians from the San community entitled “Kalahari Encounters”.

“We crafted new sounds with traditional songs and explored new ways together to connect different musical traditions.  Our aim is to cherish these old songs through a musical meeting, hopefully creating something special that will carry on this music for generations to come,” says Shishani Vranckx.

Namibian Tales are now set to embark on a European tour in July 2018 with the aim to bring the sound of Namibia closer to new markets. The tour will also create direct mobility for four San female singers to experience first-hand how concerts and festival work internationally as well as create insight into opportunities within the creative economy.

The 9th IFCD call for funding is currently open from 26 February 2018 to 16 April 2018. Read here for more information.