A pioneer of the Namibian music industry, Ras Sheehama is an outstanding Afro-Reggae singer/songwriter. His lyrics show consciousness, integrity, sharp observation and humanity, while conveying both socio-political criticism as well as messages of peace, love and wisdom. Having grown up in several African countries, and travelled in other continents, he has developed his own style of music, which has a strong global appeal. Ras Sheehama is a very talented performer and a musical perfectionist with the ability to transcend a vibrant energy that reflects our experiences in life. With his 25 years of musical experience, soothing voice, diverse repertoire, and charismatic stage performances, he continues to capture audiences wherever he goes.
1966 – 1979 Born as Omeho Yaaliyatala (“the two eyes that observe”) Sheehama in Onakayale Ombalantu, Ras grew up in North-central Namibia, the heart of the struggle against the apartheid system.
1979 – 1984 Ras went into exile, lived in refugee camps in Angola & Zambia. During this time he started to develop his passion for music and he began singing and playing guitar at his early teens.
1984 - 1988 Secondary school in Nigeria. In Nigeria he was impressed with life performances of Fela Kuti and other Nigerian artists, and he further developed his love for African and reggae music. He played in the school band, and in 1986 he recorded his first demo. The demo included the song “Cassinga”, which later brought him fame in Namibia.
1988 – 1990 Back in Angola, Ras joined the Ndilimani Swapo Cultural Troupe. He would sing his own songs accompanied by acoustic guitar. He continued playing with Ndilimani when he returned to his home country Namibia in 1989, just before Independence. Ndilimani was the most popular band around the time of Namibia’s Independence in 1990, and the band toured around the country for the first free election campaign.
1990 – 1995 Start of solo-career. During the NBC Music Makers competition in 1990 Ras was noticed and contracted by Paul Joubert Music. He recorded 3 albums in this period, which were only available in Namibia as music cassettes. As one of the few Namibian recording artists he gained enormous popularity in the country, and several hits were regularly played on all the major radio channels. He extensively toured around the country, and performed as the opening act for Manu Dibangu, Salif Keita, Ismael Lo, Lucky Dube, and Brenda Fassie. During this period Ras also toured through the UK with Music Circuit, and performed in Cuba as part of a cultural exchange.
1996 -1997 Ras was the first Namibian artist to release an album on CD (“Travelling”). He was the overall winner of the NBC Music Makers award, which won him a voice training course in Paris, as well as performances at the French festival “Printemps de Bourges”, and as an opening act for Ismael Lo in Reunion Island. He also represented Namibia at the 1997 Expo in Portugal.
1997 – 2002 Ras performed in several clubs and venues in Namibia, and was the main act on most national day celebrations. He performed and recorded with members of the band of Lucky Dube and Stimela. International performances include the Africa Festival in Wurzburg, Germany, and Johannesburg, where he was the opening act for Don Carlos. In Namibia he won both the Sanlam Music Award and the Namibia Music Award.
2002 – 2005 Recorded “Inotila” for the compilation album “a handful of Namibians”, and travelled to Paris to promote the album. Release of his 5th album “Pure Love”, and local performances at several venues in Namibia.
2005 – 2007 Based in Geneva for a while, Ras performed in various Swiss clubs with sound system. Larger international performances include the Montreax Jazz festival, Fetes de Geneve, as well as a performance in Milan, at the Canterburry University, and as the main act in the TRNKOBRANI Open Air festival in the Czech Republic. At the Sanlam Music awards in 2006, Ras received the “Lifetime achievement in music” award.
2008 – 2009 Release of his 6th album “Watch over us”, recorded in France, with concerts in Windhoek to promote the album. He also toured through the Netherlands with Chris Hinze for the successful “Africa Impressions” tour, where Ras featured as the main male vocalist. Received a Namibian Music Award for best songwriter and best reggae.
2010– 2012 Ras performed at the Festival Mondial des Arts Negres in Dakar, Senegal towards the end of 2010, and at a festival in Congo Brazzaville in 2011. He won the ‘Last Band Standing’ in 2011, which was awarded with a tour through the country, and him being a judge at the event the following year. He was also elected as a board member at the Namibian Society for Composers and Authors of Music (NASCAM), and received a lifetime achievement award at the prestigious NAMA awards in 2012. Towards the end of the year he released his 7th album aptly titled “Still Standing”.
2013 – to date Ras and his 8-=piece band represented Southern Africa at an Afro-reggae music festival at the AU 50th Anniversary Jubilee in Addis Ababa in 2013. He furthermore had several live performances in Namibia, amongst which a concert celebrating Lucky Dube’s life, alongside his son TK Dube and Ben Priest in 2015. Towards the end of 2015 he released his latest album “Step Up”, which has a strong inter-generational appeal.
- 1991 Kings Music (MC)
- 1992 Push and Pull (MC)
- 1995 Strictly Ras Sheehama (MC)
- 1996 Travelling (Kingsmusic CD)
- 2005 Pure Love (African Cream CD)
- 2006 Travelling on (RGM compilation CD)
- 2007 The best of 1991 – 2005 (RasShee Records compilation CD)
- 2008 Watch Over Us (RasShee Records CD)
- 2012 Still Standing (RasShee Records CD)
- 2013 Early Years (RasShee Records compilation CD)
- 2015 Step Up (RasShee Records)
The president of Finland, Tarja Halonen, has said she loves Sheehama's music.