Artists March Against Salacious Website

A group of artists who are upset about the defamatory articles written about them on the website, The Cypher News organised a protest on Tuesday.

The artists’ march was however poorly attended, with only about 25 artists, producers and industry enthusiasts marching from Zoo Park to the office of the Media Ombusdsman to hand over a petition signed by 30 people.

Those in attendance, included Sula Kyababa, Tequila, Tunakie, Araffath Mahuure, DJ Kboz and Oteya. Kyababa admitted that the turnout was poor, despite efforts to involve more people. “We ran this campaign for two weeks via Facebook and asked so many artists [to come] but it seems that most don’t care. The low turnout is a sign of disunity in the industry and it’s obvious that some people are scared to lose something if they take part,” he said.

Documents provided to The Namibian indicated that Cypher Media CC was a partnership between Dragan ‘Antonio’ Djokic and Chris Paul. Antonio later removed himself from the partnership leaving Paul as the sole owner of the venture. The publication runs on the internet, allowing readers to pay a weekly fee for salacious articles about Namibian entertainment personalities. Some are calling for the site to be shut down, as it allegedly publishes untruthful and slanderous articles about musicians and those in the entertainment industry. “This is total nonsense, we do not entertain this site at all and we demand that the Media Ombudsman blacklist Paul,” an enraged Tequila said.

“We can’t be serious in the fight against social ills like gender-based violence and substance abuse when the role models in our society are being painted as people with no morals and those lies are filling the minds of the youth. They need to be stopped,” said Kyababa.

Antonio admits that he initially had a different concept as to what Cypher News was going to be. He later pulled out of the venture, transferring all his shares to Paul after realising what direction his partner was taking. “My idea was to have a magazine similar to Shambuka but when I saw what Chris Paul wanted to do, I went to the Ministry of Trade and gave my shares to him. I do not support those types of stories at all,” said Antonio, who was not present at the march.

When asked why he failed to show solidarity with the artists who marched, he said his absence should not be seen as a sign of disinterest. “I was told about the march, yes, but I am not here to clean up this mess. I did sign the petition and I have been doing other things to deal with this issue,” said Antonio, insisting his record label, Deal Done Records, was “absolutely on the side of the artists”.

Kyababa however refuted Antonio’s claims. “Antonio only showed interest at a later stage, asking us to take the petition to him before we take it to the Media Ombudsman but it does not work like that.”

The artists were late for their appointment with Media Ombudsman Clement Daniels and thus handed over the petition to his partner, who promised to meet them after going through their list of complaints. Paul also distanced himself from the publication, telling The Namibian that he had long sold his share of Cypher Media CC, although he declined to disclose to whom. He denied writing the ‘Middlefinger’ column on the site, which has long been associated with him and that he runs The Cypher News. “The information you got is untrue and those documents they showed you are outdated,” he said. The artists are set to meet Paul on Friday, when he will apparently explain his stance on the matter.

Source : The Namibian