In an effort to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality, each Wednesday the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek celebrates women who have excelled in their fields and who promote positive change in their communities.
This Wednesday, UNIC Windhoek celebrates the reigning Namibian Annual Music Awards (NAMA) Female Artist of the Year, Colleen Leitner, better known by her stage name Chikune, who has soared to great heights in the Namibian music industry.
Chikune has been singing ever since she was a young girl. During her childhood in Karibib, she took part in numerous singing competitions and her passion for music grew.
In 2012, her hard work and dedication to music carried her across the Atlantic Ocean and landed her in Los Angeles at the World Championships of the Performing Arts (WCOPA), where she won the 2012 Senior Vocalist of the Year Award. Soon after in 2014, she was signed by Ogopa Butterfly Entertainment, a Namibian based record label. Ever since then she has never looked back and has blossomed in the Namibian music industry, performing catchy tunes that people cannot help but sing along to.
Chikune explains that music empowers her to be herself and gives her confidence, “I have always been a submissive person, and I have always been scared of confrontation. Music is the way I express myself. It is how I fight back and convey my arguments. When I sing and perform, I feel untouchable,” she says.
Although Chikune reigns as Female Artist of the Year, finding the spotlight in the Namibian music industry came with many challenges. “The toughest thing I went through as a female artist was when I was made to feel like my choice to get married and have a child was completely devastating to my career by my previous investors,” she says.
These challenges did not stop Chikune from pursuing her dreams, instead they pushed her to work harder. Recognising that gender inequality exists in media, Chikune stresses that, “Women’s empowerment is extremely important because it is still overlooked, especially in the music industry.” She adds that more laws should be put in place to protect artists and their work.
Despite the backlash from the music industry, Chikune is extremely happy with her music career and is a dedicated wife and mother. Besides dazzling her fans with her melodic voice, she is also currently pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Medicine and Surgery.
Chikune believes in the power of music, and uses it as a tool to convey her message to the world. “The lyrics in the music we listen to can be extremely powerful,” she explains. She says that since music is universal, the message of a song has the ability to reach many people, regardless of age.
For this reason she explains that music puts artists in a position of great influence through which they can promote just causes such as gender equality.
Chikune gives a word of advice and encouragement to girls pursuing their dreams by saying, “Even though the world has progressed well to equate both genders, we still live in a man’s world. There will be men in your life who will want to control you, and there will be those who are intimidated by your success and will try with all their might to break you, but do not give them the satisfaction nor be afraid to dream. Nothing is impossible to achieve if placed in the hands of God.”
Chikune lives each day of her life by the motto, “If you aim for the impossible, you can achieve the best possible, with the help of God.”