“What Dey Fighting For?”
Published: Flamingo Magazine, August 2008
…asks EeS in his latest music video which is quickly rising to fame. While the world and our leaders closely, but passively, watch the news of the crisis happening in Zimbabwe, the xenophobic violence in South Africa and the general stories of war, corruption and hostility, a few people actually do get up and speak out against it.
On Friday the 27th of June 2008, evocatively coinciding with the so-called presidential run-off of Zimbabwe, young Namibian Kwaito star EeS (aka Eric Sell, 24) officially released the music video for his song “What Dey Fighting For?”. The song also features his fellow Namibian reggae musician Ras Sheehama (42). Although EeS does not necessarily see himself as a political activist, he does hope that through his music he can reach a large audience around the world, and inspire them to think about what is happening. By asking a question and not prescribing an answer to it, the listeners have to find the answers themselves, a tactic the artist finds to be more effective to convey the message on a deeper level. Says EeS: “We as artist do not have the power to rule the political systems directly, but we do have the power to get our messages out to the world, and by that start to unite people and strive for a certain cause, like ending the wars and violence.”
The music video shows a white and a black Namibian, a Kwaito and a Reggae musician, an older and a younger generation, side by side, sitting in front of a television screen showing scenes of war and military action. Together they ask what the people are fighting for. During their song they suddenly find themselves on the war front as two soldiers sitting on watch, instead of fighting they lament in their heartfelt song the results of the senseless war.
Only some 20 years ago the making of such a video and screening it in Namibia would have been highly unlikely, as by that time the country was still divided by Apartheid laws. So it is even more significant that these two artists have produced this song together, while many Namibian and German friends volunteered their time to help on the video production. It is also a sign of EeS’ openness and vision to find artists from different genres to collaborate on a production, especially where we often hear about vicious feuds between competing musicians in Namibia.
The video was shot on location in Cologne, Germany, where EeS currently works as a sound engineer and at the same time is promoting his music. He says that living and working in Germany provides him with access to high-tech quality equipment of a first world country and good exposure, benefiting the professional production of his music, which is brought to life by his unique Namibian style, energy and inspiration. He is a sworn and proud NAM-boy (Namibian). Besides the Namibian influence in his music and lyrics, he also has his own clothing line (EeS WeaR) inspired by the Namibian way of life and often incorporating the Namibian flag and other local icons. He proudly wears his home country on his sleeve, not only in the figurative sense but literally as well.
EeS has learned to use the best of both worlds to his advantage and is passionate about sharing this with his fellow Namibian musicians. He has already invited and collaborated with a long list of other Namibian stars such as: Gazza, The Dogg, TeQuila, Namany, The Hunta, Tate Buti, Matongo Familie and Sunny Boy.
Thanks to the internet many such connections can now be easily established and artists from all over the world can exchange ideas. This is also how the initial contact between EeS and Ras Sheehama has started. Later, when EeS heard that Ras was visiting Germany in October 2007, he invited him to do this song together. In May 2008, with the assistance of the non-profit cultural exchange organisation p.art.ners berlin-windhoek and Air Namibia Ras returned to Cologne for the shooting of the music video. EeS comments that “…the special connection with Ras and me is that we have a very similar way of doing music, very ees-y [sic] and coming from the soul.”
Nowadays the internet does not only help to connect artists and produce such fruitful outcomes, but is also facilitating the spreading of the music across the world. In just the first week after releasing the video on the “largest free promotion space in the world” it already got viewed over a 1000 times on video publishing sites such as youtube and sevenload and EeS got feedback from as far as Mongolia, Australia, Ireland and the USA. The video is also being distributed, by more traditional modes of promotion, to television stations and music channels in Namibia, South Africa and Germany.
EeS, who was born and bred in Namibia, has produced seven CD’s and several music videos in the past five years. He started off with Hip Hop music and made a name for himself with hits like “Wo is die Coolbox?” sung in a Namibian-German slang. The music video accompanying this song has won an award at the 2007 Wild Cinema Namibian Film Festival. From there he has moved on as he matured and left the aggressiveness of the Hip Hop world behind. Now he has a big fan base and can reach many people through his music, prompting him to use the power of his songs for better causes. The steady change in style was also a natural response to becoming truer to himself and his happy, outgoing character and positive outlook on life.
His music style can be described as a blend of Kwaito (African House), Reggae/Afro Pop and Hip Hop, which has a funky fresh spin to it. He explains: “Since my music varies a bit from the original traditional “Kwaito” and “Afro-reggae” the public started giving my music genre a new name called “NAM Flava”, because one can feel the African (NAMibian)[sic] flavour in my music.”
The Promo preview to this Music Video by EeS – “What Dey Fighting For?” featuring Ras Sheehama can be seen at this link: http://www.youtube.com/user/eesyees and in High Quality at: http://de.sevenload.com/sendungen/EeS-TV-Show-NAMIBIA/folgen/C6d2KZn-EeS
EeS official website: www.eesy-ees.com
© Imke Rust is a Namibian visual artist, art facilitator and writer.