Updated: Oct 5
Shanine Paulino: Media Buyer
The Land of the Brave recently celebrated its 30th birthday. Our homeland has come a long way from censored content to free media. But what crucial role does media play in maintaining this peaceful semi-arid country? Namibia was a colony of Germany and thereafter was a protectorate of South Africa who further hoped to annex Namibia (then known as South West Africa) as the fifth province of South Africa.
The blast from the past is important because it allows us to understand how media progressed. Namibia’s broadcast media was controlled by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) between 1956 and 1979, and this was later changed to South West African Broadcasting Corporation (SWABC) from 1979 to 1990. The latter implemented Radio Bantu in line with the apartheid policy in South Africa, with the aim of controlling and pacifying the ‘natives’ through heavy censorship (Vranckx 2015). During apartheid, which was a policy of segregation and political and economic discrimination all music with critical messages that attempted to undermine authorities was banned. After Independence in 1990, the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) was set up in 1991 (Vranckx 2015). This was the first step to free media, a platform where you were allowed to express yourself.
Years down the line, things have changed. We no longer rely on national archives and libraries as our sole form of media references, now media and technology have evolved so much so that it is becoming more and more personalized. From AI using algorithms to determine which articles you would like to read to Spotify and YouTube selecting a playlist for you based on previous selection. Digital media is becoming more and more relevant with traditional media slowing phasing out. In 2011 the UN declared that internet access is a basic human right on par with clean water, shelter, food, and electricity. However, access to the internet is still a luxury, the country is still below the African average of 35.2% (Chiringa 2018).
Covid19 pandemic is one of the ways that we realize how the world has evolved. Being stuck in lockdown with no internet seems almost impossible.
Africa happens to be the world’s second-most populous continent and has the youngest population in the world with an average age of less than 20-year-old. This is a market with so much potential. 137.8 billion Rands in revenue was recorded in the Entertainment and Media Industry in South Africa in 2012 (Watson 2019). These statistics prove that media (digital and traditional) should be emphasized. The younger audience is inclined towards the advancements in technology and simply put, they just get it.
30 years down the line and we still have much to look forward to but according to John Mukuru Mbaku ‘’ free and independent media… is very instrumental at cleaning up corruption and enhancing the bureaucratic accountability’’ (Musau 2016). With that said, the progression of our country, the responsibility of credible information and of building an informed society lie in the hands of the custodians of media.
Chiringa, K 2018, Namibia’s internet users still below Africa’s average despite growth, The Villager, viewed on 30 March 2020,
Musau, Z 2016, A new era for African media, viewed 30 March 2020, <https://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/august-2016/new-era-african-media>.
Watson, 2019, Media in Africa – Statistics and Facts, Statistica, viewed on 30 March 2020, <https://www.statista.com/topics/5032/media-in-africa/>.
Vranckx, S 2015, The media in Namibia, Music in Africa, viewed 30 March 2020, <https://www.musicinafrica.net/magazine/media-namibia>.