Namibia’s top celebrities for 2011
Many Namibians believe there are no “real” celebrities in the country and that the current entertainers don’t have what it takes to carry the “celebrity” title, as is the case with artists in neighbouring South Africa, or United States and Europe.
In a random survey conducted by Windhoek Observer, posts on social networks, and Radio Energy 100 FM phone inquiries however, yielded some clues as to what locals consider a celebrity.
Many people classified political luminaries like the Founding President Dr Sam Nujoma, President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Prime Minister Nahas Angula, among others as celebrities.
Others also classified business tycoons Harold Pupkewitz, Frans Indongo and Ben Hauwanga as celebrities.
The number and the types of names mentioned perhaps gives an indication of how few celebrities we really have in Namibia.
The international yardstick set by America’s Forbes magazine gives various criteria for listing the Most Powerful people: Most Powerful Men/Women (mainly politicians), Richest People (Businesspeople) and Most Powerful Celebrities (Entertainers).
For example, the magazine usually has yardsticks for rating businesspeople and politicians, usually in terms of their bank accounts and the power they wield. Although, accurate information about how powerful people are usually proves hard to obtain.
In a quest to establish the real celebrities in Namibia, the Windhoek Observer and Radio Energy 100FM this week gave the public the opportunity to nominate their favourite candidates through its social pages, as well as to call in or to send text messages to Energy’s studios.
The Windhoek Observer came up with its own list of Namibia’s top celebrities that includes fashion trendsetters, musicians, producers, actors, authors, supermodels, TV/radio personalities and athletes, drawn from across the country and cut through the generation divide.
The criteria included determining the celebrities who have exerted the most influence on contemporary pop culture, media visibility -- exposure in print, television, radio and online, social media, number of web references on Google, TV/radio mentions and their general appeal to audiences across the country and beyond.
The nominee’s philanthropic activities, such as who gave the most back to the community and raised awareness about Namibia on the international stage also came into consideration.
The Windhoek Observer “Namibia’s Most Powerful Celebrities 2011” includes those who inspire the younger generations and serve as role models. Their personalities, talent, skill and public giving remain invaluable to the country.
Frank Fredericks, athlete
Fredericks flew the Namibian flag high for many years at athletics World Championships, World Indoor Championships, All African Games and Commonwealth Games, among others. Even after retirement, he remains a powerful figure in sports serving at “Champions for Peace Club” - a group of elite world athletes committed to serving world peace. He is a member of the International Olympic Committee and president of Namibian Athletics. He further co-founded the Frankie Fredericks Foundation to help and mould young athletes.
Michelle McLean, supermodel
As Miss Namibia 1991, McLean won Miss Universe 1992, and became instrumental in bringing the Miss Universe beauty pageant to Namibia, making history for the country as the only African country except South Africa ever to host the event. Flying the Namibian flag high, she hosted Miss World pageant in South Africa 2008. She is the co-founder of Michelle McLean Children’s’ Fund that works with the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) to raise funds and awareness for impoverished children in Namibian and Africa.
Gwen Lister, media personality
Lister founded The Namibian newspaper, as a tool to fight the brutal apartheid regime –that won her various international accolades such as a Harvard University fellowship and recently CNN documented her achievements. To date, The Namibian is the most-widely read English daily newspaper in the country, and as such remains a formidable platform for celebrities and other entertainers to launch or propel their careers. Even after paving the way for new editor Tangeni Amupadhi, Lister remains the country’s most powerful media personality.
The Dogg and Gazza, musicians
Arguably the most talked about musicians in the country, Gazza and The Dogg have dominated the Namibian music scene for nearly a decade. Their musical genius and business clout have made them the top selling musicians in the country to date. Both are former Artists of the Year and the firsts to dethrone South African musicians from Best Kwaito category, among other awards. Gazza and The Dogg also serve as Ambassadors for some local corporations.
Behati Prinsloo, supermodel
Barely known in her home country, Prinsloo, the only daughter of Grootfontein pastor, is an international supermodel and earned the title Victoria Secret Angel. According to Models.com, she is ranked the 13 sexiest model in the world. She has appeared on the catwalk in prestigious fashion shows for Prada, Paul Smith, Shiatzy Chen, Vera Wang, Versace, Chanel, Missoni, and DKNY. Lady Gaga (Most powerful celebrity in the world 2011) graced some of her previous fashion shows. Last week, she strutted the catwalk at the annual Victoria’s Secret show where Kanye West, Jay-Z, Maroon 5 and Nicki Minaj performed. She remains a fashion ambassador for Namibia in the developed world.
Knowledge Katti, Tobie Aupindi, trendsetters
Although not in entertainment industry, Aupindi and Katti featured prominently in the nominations. The two youthful personalities have become trendsetters in fashion, the “bling-bling” culture and cut themselves a flamboyant public image. While females drool over Aupindi’s looks, fashion taste, and the much talked-about fat salary as the then NWR Managing Director, men envy Katti’s newly acquired “Bling-Bling”. Katti was among pioneers in the oil industry and has acquired a handsome fortune over the years to be considered among the “who is who” in the financial circles.. While Aupindi was voted Africa’s Tourism Personality of the Year for Africa and the Indian Ocean, Katti has helped hundreds of Namibian students obtain funding for their higher education.
Stefan Ludik, TV personality/musician
Ludik is the first Namibian representative to the Big Brother Africa television show and the first white in the house. To date, he remains the most visible and active former Namibian housemate after he curved a niche on the music and the acting scene. Based in South Africa, Ludik is a Bank Windhoek Ambassador and acted in one of the top rated soapies in Africa, Egoli. He opened the stage during the performance of Irish band Westlife in Namibia this year. Ludik was voted SA’s Most Sexiest Man and first and only Namibian to headline the prestigious People Magazine.
Collin Benjamin, footballer
Regarded as one of the best soccer players in Namibia, Benjamin is the highest paid footballer in the country. As an international playing for TSV 1860 in Munich, Germany, Benjamin is an inspiration of hope for the ailing soccer game in the country.
Jericho, Gal Level, musicians
The Gal Level duo is the reigning Female Artists of the Year, while Hip Hop giant Jericho is the Male Artist of the Year. Gal Level are multi-nominees for All Africa Kora Awards, MTV Africa Awards, and winners of the Channel O awards. Their charity work in collaboration with local corporate companies is visible.
Joel Haikali, film director/actor
Perhaps the most prolific filmmaker and actor in the country, Haikali has directed, written and produced internationally recognised films. Haikali acted along US actors Danny Glover and Carl Lumbley in the award-winning feature “Namibia - the Struggle for Liberation directed” by Charles Burnett. His peers elected him Chairperson of the Filmmakers Association of Namibia (FAN), and the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles and London screened his films.
Other personalities on the list include Venantia Otto, supermodel, winner Face of Africa; John Walenga, media mogul/music promoter; Hilda Basson-Namundjebo, TV personality/music promoter; Kazimbire, TV personality; Jacques Burger, rugby player; Ilke Platt, TV/Radio personality; Robin Tyson, media personality.
Prominent musicians who made the nominations include Lady May, Tate Buti, Ees, Ras Sheehama and Sunny Boy, as NAMA producer of the year, Arafat. Members of the public also mentioned the boxing promoter Nestor Tobias and his protégé Paulus ‘Hitman’ Moses and former champion Harry Simon.
Namibia’s top stand-up comedians and Emcees Lazarus Jacobs and Neville Basson both received nominations but could not be considered because of their links to this newspaper. The newspaper did also not consider TV/radio personality Jossy Joss of Radio Energy 100FM who collaborated with the Windhoek Observer in compiling the list was.
– Windhoek Observer/Energy 100 FM
Mboya is a celebrity writer and investigative/tabloid journalist working in Southern Africa since 2002. He contributes to MNet's Face of Africa, Big Brother, Channel O, MTV. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org