During decades of apartheid, not only did Namibian pop music receive no funding from government agencies, it was also controlled and in some cases even suppressed. Many audio recordings were often not kept for posterity at all or were saved only on private, fragile storage media, such as audio cassettes. This musical heritage was in danger of disappearing altogether.
Preserving musical testimonies for future generations
The founders of the Stolen Moments Namibia Music History Untold research group, Aino Moongo and Baby Doeseb, set themselves the task of preserving these musical testimonies of the apartheid era for future generations. The Federal Foreign Office provided around 50,000 euros for this project within the framework of its Cultural Preservation Programme.
The technical equipment for digitising the recordings was provided within the context of the project. A German expert travelled to the country to train Namibian audio technicians, who then digitised numerous recordings and transferred the data to a music database. The digitisation of the music storage media has now been largely completed. An important part of Namibian music history has thus been made accessible both to researchers and to the general Namibian public. Not only academics but also the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and the National Archives of Namibia have access to the music via the database and are helping to revive knowledge about this musical genre, which was almost lost.
Aldred Dreyer, Chief Technology Officer at NBC, is happy: “The project is of great significance for the country and for NBC, and has helped preserve Namibia’s rich cultural heritage.”