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Letso breaks the mould and tells stories through a lens

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Letso ‘Lets’ Leipego has over the years cultivated and refined his artistic talent through drawing, painting and photography. The prolific photographer tells Vibe that he makes art because he wants his inner voice to be heard. “Everyone has a story to tell and I am telling mine.

I think the strength of my work lies in the ability to communicate my personal expression based on my personal experiences and situations I encounter. This means me finding myself as I listen to and interpret people’s stories through my lens,” he says. Leipego points out that he only started to specialise in photography after graduating with a Degree in Advertising from Limkokwing University of Creative Technology in Botswana. His love for artistic storytelling however comes way back. “I don’t remember not doing art. I believe art is the best talent that I have and something that I feel most comfortable doing and talking about.

It allows me to break rules, and make new rules and break them again, yet live a life of contentment and satisfaction.” Leipego explains that he is enamoured by many photographers and doesn’t confine himself to a particular genre. “There is always something to appreciate from creatives across Africa. I believe that every artist has their own unique way of expressing their artistic feeling, which has tremendously added to their initial style.” He points out that he draws inspiration from what he hears and sees. “It could be anything, from an old man sitting on a chair or children playing.

My photography is mostly based on things the eye tends to overlook.” He further explains that his photography stories emphasise on giving people an identity. “I want my path to be in keeping with my tradition because most of our African stories deserve to be told. It is important for us and the younger generation to understand where we are coming from and where we are going.” Leipego’s solo exhibition opens tonight at Guns and Rain Gallery in Parkhurst, Johannesburg, South Africa. It is a huge feat but he is chilled about it, pointing out that it makes sense to showcase there as South Africa has filled the gap left behind in African contemporary art, compared to other African countries.

Leipego wants to one day see himself as an ambassador of contemporary arts in Botswana. “I would like to guide and develop upcoming artists so that Botswana could be recognised in the arts industry globally.” He notes that government and private sector should invest more in building art institutions that can help Batswana learn and understand the different aspects of art (practical, theoretical and the business element). “I believe that this would improve our artistic landscape and also change our mentalities about art and how we view the culture industry.”

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KUX DROPS LEFATSHE LENO

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Hip-hop artist Kux has dropped a single dubbed Lefatshe leno, out of his latest EP titled That’s Me. The song is currently on high rotation on local radio stations and notable music platforms. In an interview with Vibe this week, Kuk said that he was pleased with the positive feedback to the song.

Born Kutlwano Kabelo Mokgatla in Selebi-Phikwe, 31-year-old Moshupa native, is also a composer and writer. He started his solo career in 1999. His first solo track, I Kicks It, was recorded by Young Sluggz and produced by Motswako Makaveli. He was still schooling in Johannesburg, South Africa then, and it was during this time that he got to interact with the likes of Zeus, KB and Samba T who he says are still some of his inspirations in the local music industry.

He recorded his second song Huskey with Loso and Lunatic in 2010. Lif Aman, produced by Skywalker Productions, recorded the song at Bazamele Records. In 2012 he put together a mix tape and worked with QBio and Uzzi among others. Last year he linked with GreedySkillz, which resulted in the introduction of long-time producer Lil Boi and signed onto his label Fiendz Music Records. “That is when we decided to fuse and create a dynamic apply named Motswako Palamente,” he recalls. Their track Shots played on Yarona FM for the first time in 2013. In 2014 he worked on a new EP titled L.I.F.E.S.T.Y.L.E ya mrepa.

The first single, Campus, featuring Saxxx, was released online and was downloaded more than a thousand times, and also featured on Yarona FM Hip hop show Headspace. In 2015 he recorded his second single Cough It Up featuring Jinx and Swazi Block. In 2016 he linked with Lanie and recorded and released a cover song titled R.I.C.O. originally done by Drake and Meek Mill, which raised heads for both of them. He later dropped his second mixtape, Phapha, which dropped later that same year. To wrap things up, he dropped BluChampagne. In 2017 he featured on Free, another single off Jinx mixtape. In 2018 he shot the video for BluChampagne and recorded a follow-up single titled CBD later the same year.

He says that he is working on more music individually and also wants to collaborate with local artists such as Apollo and Loosecat among others. He said he chose artists who he admires and has a strong following as this would also give him the vantage to extend into their markets. Kux also said that he is working towards a full studio album. He said he has international appeal and wants to create a brand that will be competitive globally.

“I dream of more than local awards…I aspire to clinch MTV and Grammy awards.” Earlier this year Kux was signed to Exclusive Media, which handles publishing, recording, vocal mixing mastering, recording, brand development, show outsourcing and general management. His management team explained that they are working hard to create a brand out of Kux and subsequently attract endorsements for him.

They said they had collaborated with several youth owned companies to help them build capacity and create seamless solid brands. “Through Exclusive Media, we have also created platforms for young artists, particularly those who are upcoming, to not only show them the ropes but also help them elevate their careers.”

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MARUATONA PUBLISHES ABSTRAXTION BOOK

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Oarabile Omaru Maruatona has published a book titled Abstraxtion, a collection of literary summaries. He recently explained to Vibe that an abstract in a literary sense is a summary of a larger text.

“The pieces I wrote are abstracts in both a literary and artistic sense. In this book, I take the reader through the exhibition of my abstracts, hence Abstraxion. This is a word I came up with, and it is as daring as the book itself is,” he said. He further said his context at the time he started writing is what got him to write in the first place. “In 2010, I decided to leave the best job I could ever have in Botswana, as a graduate with Debswana to return to Australia.

I had previously studied my bachelors’ degree in Australia on a Debswana scholarship. I probably had the best job any graduate could have at the time, and I spent it moving from one section of the mine to another until I had covered the entire mining value chain. As you can imagine, it was an amazing opportunity and I was getting paid for it. So to walk away from a gig like that, I had to think deeper about the new Australian opportunity, an industry PhD.

“This is a PhD that one does in collaboration with an industry entity who have a direct interest in the research or the research outcome. My PhD was in collaboration with one of the biggest banks in Australia and involved researching and developing Artificial Intelligence algorithms to be used in the bank’s Internet banking systems for security. So all this overwhelmed me and I felt like I was going insane at some point. I needed an occasional outlet. To reaffirm my sanity, I started writing short pieces, mostly reflecting on my experiences and learnings.

I have always been a keen reader and a conscious consumer of music so as I started to write, my musical, literary and other artistic tastes came together and the product was the unique style of writing and content found in Abstraxion.”  Maruatona further noted that he first wrote the book for his sanity and intellectual freedom, and mostly because he loved it. “Over time, I realized my topics were always political, Africanist, philosophical and somewhat activist.

I resolved that if these pieces had to form a book, it had to inform and inspire the reader. I also knew that the book had to be on-point content-wise, style-wise and timewise. I wrote every piece when I had at least an hour to write, most pieces were written in between times, which is why the whole book took the duration of my PhD.

The book includes 45 pieces and I cover a range of topics including the state of Africa, the global economic system, climate change, personal introspection, old African legends and a few homages including one to women, one to my unborn child and another to the people who have enriched my life one way and another.” Maruatona noted that this book is for knowledgists: those who love and seek knowledge. “The book came from deep intellect but the philosophical notions shouldn’t scare the everyday reader. It is a book to be read, shared and discussed.”

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