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Music from Namibia? Putting the South African Nation on the World Music Map

There is only one commercially available compilation of music from Namibia in Europe, "A Handful of Namibians"

Shisani and the Namibian Tales band. From left to right: Sjahin During on percussion, vocalist, guitarist Shisani Vranckx, Debby Korfmacher (Germany) on mbira, kora, voice, and Bence Huszaron cello. (Photo: Eric van Nieuwland) (VOA)

Hands up anyone who has ever heard music from Namibia! This large corner of Southern Africa seems to have dropped off the world music map, but that may be changing. At this year’s World Music Expo in Spain, VOA caught up with a young Namibian-born musicologist who is blending the old and the new.

There’s only one compilation of music from Namibia that is commercially available in Europe. Called “A Handful of Namibians,” it was released in 2004. Since then: nothing. But Shisani is changing all that.

“Hello everyone, my name is Shisani. I’m from Namibia, from the Netherlands, from Belgium… I’m a songwriter, a musicologist. I’ve researched different styles of music in the development of music history of Namibia.”

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Namibiab-born vocalist and guitarist Shisani Vranckx. (Courtesy photo: Eric van Nieuwland)
Namibian-born vocalist and guitarist Shisani Vranckx. (Courtesy photo: Eric van Nieuwland) (VOA)

Namibia is a crossroads: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola, Germany – all run through its turbulent national story – and its music. Recording the original sound and converting it into something new is what Shisani does.

She was born of mixed parentage in the Namibian capital Windhoek. At the age of five, she moved to the Netherlands and started her musicology study.

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“Growing up in Europe…there was no access to Namibian music. In 20 years, I only found one CD from Namibia, which was an ethnographic recording of the Bushmen people, the San people…Soul music, jazz,r&b, hip hop – that was the kind of stuff that was accessible to me, growing up as a child in Europe,” said Shisani. “There were no African artists on MTV or TMF when I was watching TV…”

All these influences are now coming together in a new band: Shisani and the Namibian Tales.

Featuring herself on voice and guitar, a German player of the Zimbabwean mbira, a Hungarian cello player and a Turkish-Dutch percussionist, the band has been exploring and expanding the traditional sounds from Namibia.

“We’re going to do a collaboration with the San people in the Kalahari, with the idea of creating new musical performances and hopefully touring as well…,” said Shisani.

This approach, Shisani thinks, can be replicated across the continent, where traditions are old but have never been static. And now she is taking her musical hybrid around the world.

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“We have played in various European countries,” said Shisani. “We’re visiting Pakistan in December. We are fortunate to be traveling so much and promoting Namibia and its culture in other places in the world.’

Shisani and the Namibian Tales have just released a new album, Itaala, and are already confirmed for various concerts in the Netherlands in 2017. (VOA)

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)