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Big Ben Judging at NamJams

Windhoek, 21July 2017 – Old Mutual launched its 3rd Namjams high school bands competition in the capital.
At the launch, Old Mutual Manager Transformation and Communications, Ilke Akwenye, stressed the importance of such initiatives. “As we continue to enable positive futures, we focus on our future leaders. Our aim through this initiative is to contribute to something that matters, big or small. Allowing our students their freedom of expression through song and words, this initiative helps achieve balance in participant’s school life through enriching their mind, body and soul. Lyrics through songs have proved to be very influential, citing lyrics from the 1985 Grammy Award winning song titled We Are The World,” she said.
In 2015 Old Mutual launched the high school initiative targeted at grade 8 to 12 learners. Over the past two years the focus of the competition was around environmental issues affecting Namibia. The theme in 2015 was “Eco song” and in 2016 “Proudly Namibian.” This year the participants are required to write a song around the theme “Poaching isn’t cool” and stand a chance to win great prizes for the band, the school and a charity organisation of their choice.
At the same occasion, last year’s winners Anti Freeze performed their song and thanked Old Mutual for the opportunity given. Through the Namjams competition, they were able to utilize their funds towards the improvement of their band, school and donate to their selected charity.
The panel of judges this year include Monique English 2017 Female artist of the year and Big Ben 2016 Male artist of the year. They will select the overall winner with the help from the public.
The prize money for this year’s winners are;
1st Prize 10 000.00 for band, N$10 000.00 for school, N$10 000.00 for the charity of the bands choice
2nd Prize N$7 000.00 for band, N$7 000.00 for school, N$7 000.00 for the charity of the bands choice
3rd Prize N$3 000.00 for band, N$3 000.00 for school, N$3 000.00 for the charity of the bands choice
The competition is open to all high schools across the country as from 24 July and interested students can find the application forms through Old Mutual’s facebook page “Old Mutual Namibia” and/or from their respective schools countrywide. Each band is required to record a video of their performance and can be submitted to Old Mutual Tower first floor, in Windhoek, attention Tracy Garises, before or on 7 August 2017. The grand finale for the competition will take place in September 2017.
Issued by: Tracy Garises Communications Practitioner Old Mutual Life Assurance Company (Namibia) Limited +264 (0)61 299 3247 (telephone) +264 (0)61 299 3504 (fax) ( Email)
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AntiFreeze wins NamJams'2016

Antifreeze from Chairman Mao Zedong scored first place at the Old Mutual NamJams Schools for Good competition held at the Warehouse Theatre last week.

The top three most voted for school bands performed in front of a live audience and judges to compete for the top spot. In second place was Rhythm & Soul from Jan Möhr Secondary School and third place are The Conquerors from Canisianum Roman Catholic High School from Outapi.

The competition was judged by NAMA award winner Big Ben, Chops from Radiowave and Smittie from NBC with the audience helping determining the winners. Great performances from Daena Weeks and Big Ben were enjoyed while Mich the Comedian hosted the show as the Master of Ceremonies.

Antifreeze worked away with N$ 30,000 (N$ 10,000 for the Band, N$ 10,000 for their School and N$ 10,000 for any charity of the band’s choice; Rhythm & Soul took N$ 21,000 (N$ 7,000 for the Band, N$ 7,000 for their School and N$ 7,000 for any charity of the band’s choice) and The Conquerors received N$ 9,000.00 (N$ 3,000 for the Band, N$ 3,000 for their School and N$ 3,000 for any charity of the band’s choice).

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Big Ben on O&L's Mwenyopaleka Tour

Big Ben is on the Mwenyopaleka Tour 2016.

In light of the Ohlthaver & List (O&L) Group’s commitment to growing its people, and remaining an ‘Employer of Choice’, the group this week kicked off with its annual ‘Mwenyopaleka Road Show’, which sees the business engaging with as many of its 6000 employees as possible. The road show for O&L employees at the coast, commenced in Walvis Bay on Wednesday, at the Town Hall, and will travel for the duration of May, to all towns in Namibia where the O&L Group has a presence.

Mwenyopaleka is an Oshiwambo word meaning ‘revitalisation’, but it can also be used as a synonym for ‘rebirth’. It is a long-term programme with the principal objective of instilling the Group’s purpose, values, vision and mission as well as the associated behaviours in the hearts and minds of each employee in the O&L Group. Over the past few years, the ‘Mwenyopaleka Road Show’ programme has allowed the Group to promote and communicate these objectives to employees.

O&L Group Manager: Employee Engagement, Sonja Thieme: “Employee engagement is the essence of connecting with employees by involving them in various initiatives such as communication, leadership development and creating excellent employment experiences. Launched in 2004, this is the 12th time that we take Mwenyopaleka to all our employees. This road show is but one of our initiatives underpinning our commitment to growing our people. The ‘Mwenyopaleka Road Show’ is an innovative, fun way of developing breakthrough leaders within the O&L Group.”

Thieme continues to say that although the end result of 7 months of preparation is a show of just more than two hours, it is an intensive session which truly speaks to; and inspires; employees. Thieme says: “Mwenyopaleka communicates the essence of who we are at O&L. It inspires our employees to be the best they can be, instilling purposeful and breakthrough thinking. This year, we are a crew compliment of 22 travelling to all ends of our beautiful country to engage our employees around our Vision 2019 and beyond. We are dedicated to developing and growing our people, on our journey to becoming the most progressive and inspiring company.”

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NAMAs 2016 concludes with flair

by Ndapewoshali Shapwanale – The Namibian

FINALLY! After many years in the industry Big Ben beat the likes of The Dogg and LMPC to be named Male Artist of the Year.

The Namibia Annual Music Awards came to an end at Ramatex in Windhoek with a number of surprises and performances that had the audience dancing and singing along to the hits.

Although she did not win the Female Artist of the Year, the night definitely belonged to Ann Singer, who not only put up a performance that embodied the very essence of her stage name, she also scooped four out of the five awards she was nominated for.

The former girl group member turned solo artist Freeda was however not as lucky as she did not win a single award although she received six nods for this year.

On the bright side, the reunion of Gal level saw Oteya and Freeda take their fans down memory lane. Dressed in all white, the duo looked every part the performers they are and definitely had viewers hoping a long−term reunion would occur.

Throwing it right back to almost a decade ago, having Mr Makoya, Damara Dik Ding and Thembiso on stage together had the crowd grooving along to Matongo Family hits.

Just when we thought the stage was taken over by ninjas from the ‘Last Samurai’, Gazza emerged in an Asian−inspired costume. A wonderful surprise was the feature of television star and model Maria Nepembe, who showed Namibia and Africa that she knows a couple of killer moves.

The Dogg added to the list of entertainers for the evening by performing his hit track ‘Shukifa Kwii’ which won him Song of the Year. He also walked away with the Best House and Best Kwaito awards.

A teary and seemingly surprised Chikune accepted her award as the Female Artist of the Year with words of encouragement to women that they can do anything and everything they set their minds to.

Adding to his win from the previous night, NIA scooped the award for Best Rap and Hip Hop, proving that he is slowly but surely taking over the game.

Rappers Paradox, consisting of Toufi and Cassidy may have lost out the Rap/Hip−Hop award but managed to walk away with the Best Collaboration title for teaming up with Ricky Rick. The award for Best Duo or Group went to Tswazis who again did not disappoint when it was their turn to fire up the stage.

One of the most competitive categories was Video of the Year with Lize Ehlers, Gazza and The Dogg, Desmond and KK emerged victorious.

Pan−African Artist of the Year went to Roberto from Zambia who blessed the audience with a performance of three of his songs.

All in all, the live acts were a combination of high energy, great vocals and entertainment.

Apart from one of the hosts asking for a “lound of applause”, the blunders were minimal.

With NAMAs 2016 done and dusted, we look forward to what the music industry has to offer for the rest of the year.

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Big Ben & Elemotho in Concert

Two “genuine” Namibian musical heavyweights, Elemotho and Big Ben, will combine for an evening of soulful Namibian music at the Zoo Park Amphitheatre next Saturday.

Big Ben is one of Namibia’s most popular sons and has grown to become one of Namibia’s most revered musicians. Hailed as one of the most influential performers in Namibian music history, he has bagged two Namibia Annual Music Awards (NAMAs) accolodaes  in the Jazz and Best Song categories and has initiated important social awareness campaigns on issues such as gender-based violence. The ‘Moro Moro’ star has shared the stage in and outside Namibia with major African musicians such as Hugh Masekela, Freshly Ground, Salif Keita and Johnny Clegg.

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Big Ben Launches New Album in UK

The new album Back to the Basics from Big Ben was launched at Manchester, UK to target African communities living in the UK. The show took place at The event which was sponsored by the Community of Namibians Living in Great Britain attracted over 120 people not only Namibia but countries such as Burundi, DRC, Kenya and South Africa.

As the albums hits stores in Namibia from 11 September 2015, The Namibia newspaper was first to run a story on the new album. Here is what they had to say.

The album features music ranging from rich traditional, township grooves and of course a little bit of experimental sounds here and there.

Admitting that he concentrated a lot of energy on eight tracks, the album consists of nine Otjiherero-titled tracks with the exception of track eight, which the album is titled after.

Taking the listener to a Motown feel, with lyrics like “they say I don’t have a good voice to be a superstar,” backed by a soft, pleasant but very present beat, Big Ben goes into Otjiherero and the listener will have to use all their willpower not to dance along.

It is clear that the album is Big Ben’s attempt at shying away from over-processed, over-written and over-played music and just like the title of the album, he sticks to the basics of music.

“Music with basic chords, basic and simple lyrics, basic lyrical content and raw music,” Big Ben said.

He adds that the musicians and sound engineers were under strict instruction to keep the music as raw as reasonably possible as well as unprocessed.

Known for his quality delivery with everything he does, whether it is performing for a crowd of 30 or a crowd of thousands, it comes as no surprise that he looked to industry greats when it came to the instrumentals.

“Various musicians, especially instrumentalists, worked on the album such as producer and drummer Fiston Britto, drummer Fernando Paulus, bassist Jean-Pierre Ntsika, sound engineer Derrick Villa and keyboardist Devine.”

“I perform my music live and would like to have it sound the same on both CD and stage.”

‘Back to the Basics’ starts off with the Namibia Annual Awards (NAMA) winning track ‘Africa Penduka’. It won the award for the Best Song with a Message and from title alone, which translates to “Africa, wake up”, the award is fitting.

On Ovombo (O’ombo), derived from a male driven traditional music genre called Omuhiva, Big Ben pays tribute to fallen and retired traditional musicians of the various genres of the Otjiherero-speaking people. You cannot help but appreciate the traditional sound which has traces of Ovahimba chanting.

On ‘Omedi’, Big Ben looked to poet and writer Nghidipo Nangolo for the lyrically rich song written in Oshiwambo. Recently performing the song in Oshakati, Big Ben received praise for exploring another language. The song praises a bull scouting the herd to mate and also dropped a few jaws for the direct manner in which it was written.

“I think it is time to get off my TV set, I think it is time to go and do your job… You make my president look bad, you make me really really mad.” Singing in Otjiherero and English, the lyrics on ‘Ozomboro’ say it all. Big Ben is sending a message to all politicians to stop talking and do their work.

We all have those days when we just want to be left alone to rest and just not be disturbed, especially after a tough day or week. ‘Muina’ or ‘Mr ToughTalk’ talks about a hard working person asking for silence after a hard day at work just to be disturbed by a person talking tough and making promises on television.

There is a little surprise for the listener who lets the entire album play out fully. There are two bonus tracks.
“As an artist, I don’t want to get caught up in the race for the most songs on an album, the most glamorous album and all that. I just want my music to get to the fans in its most raw form,” Big Ben said.

The album is a breath of fresh air, a healthy dose of great traditional meets modern, a unique feel and a sure contribution to the Namibian sound that can be sold and represent The Land of the Brave beyond borders and across oceans.

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Namibian Artists Against Xenophobia

A group of six Namibian artists gathered at the Zoo Park in Windhoek on Wednesday to denounce xenophobia, racism and tribalism.
The artists included Big Ben, Atushe, Swart Baster and Black Door. They together read out a statement to the media saying, ?We are Namibian artists but are Africans first. We will not tolerate violence of any kind on the African soil. We will sing, dance and act against xenophobia in Africa. We denounce tribalism, racism and xenophobia?.
Namibia Music Industry Union national coordinator, Johannes Shalipo Haludilu said the aim of the gathering was to send a message to fellow musicians and other performing artists in South Africa to take a stand and make use of the power vested in them.
?Performing artists evidently have more influence than politicians and we should thus take our rightful place in shaping a new imagination for our communities? he noted.
Haludilu also called on national and traditional leaders, and civil society to educate people so that everybody understands the concepts of humanity and African unity.
Some 194 artists who confirmed attendance did not pitch for the demonstration, with some saying they were stuck with their office jobs.
Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday pledged to tackle xenophobia in South Africa as troops were sent in to support police in a crackdown against attacks on immigrants that have left at least seven people dead.
The French Press Agency (AFP) reported on Wednesday that 11 men were arrested on Tuesday in a joint police and army raid on a hostel in downtown Johannesburg, hours after the military was deployed.
Many South Africans believe poverty and a severe jobs shortage is one driving factor behind mobs in Johannesburg and in the port city of Durban targeting migrants from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique and other African countries.
The spate of attacks has revived memories of xenophobic bloodshed in 2008, when 62 people were killed, tarnishing South Africa’s post-apartheid image as a ‘rainbow nation’ of different groups living in harmony.