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Letso breaks the mould and tells stories through a lens

Keletso Thobega

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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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Making outstanding art through waste material

Keletso Thobega

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Following one’s vocational calling can be a tall order in a world that still believes that white-collar work is the only way to make a living. No one knows this better than 28-year-old Khumoyame

Addam Ndove, who is a police officer by profession and an artist by vocation. While he is committed to his work as a law enforcer he dedicates most of his free time to making art. Ndove runs a company called Craft-eyed Designs which specialises in upholstery designing, artistic furniture and décor ornaments, mostly made out of waste materials such as empty oil drums, tyres and pallets, among others. The Francistown born and raised lad tells Vibe that his artistic journey started with a passion he had for art and using recycled material to create distinct new pieces.

One day he got an idea to try out a few art works and he went out to collect raw material and got down to work. “I knew I was talented in hand craft but had never explored my potential. I was impressed with what I managed to do. My work was interesting and outstanding. I also received positive feedback from the public and realised that this was something I could do out of passion and to complement my earnings,” he says.

Ndove explains that Art is a way of expressing himself. “I enjoy art because that is how I communicate and share what is in my mind.” He points out that he is also a businessman so selling his craft was not too difficult as he has the acumen. He however notes that the biggest challenge he faces is that a large number of Batswana do not appreciate art and therefore do not recognise the value of his work. Other challenges he faces include lack of operational space and shortage of capital.

He says that shortage of raw materials limits him from unleashing his full creative potential. Ndove currently runs his company alone and juggles it with his day job. He hopes to one day get an investor to bolster his business so that he can employ other people and grow the enterprise. “I would like to get a spacious workshop and showroom, and also hire relevant employees.” But doing what he loves makes him content. “Bringing an idea to life makes me fulfilled. I always feel great when I see my finished products.”

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BOMU awards go on…

Keletso Thobega

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The 10th annual Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) awards will be held on 26 January 2019 at GICC. Revellers should expect performances from Lister Boleseng, Nono Siile, Perion, Slizer, Matheke Letane and Kwaito Nation among others. Tickets are said to be already on sale through Webtickets.

The awards will also be broadcasts.
Over the past few weeks there has been confusion over whether the awards will go and this week Phemelo ‘Fresh Les’ Lesokwane officially confirmed that it is all systems go. Artists caused a stir this week on social media when they indicated that was confusion and miscommunication around the awards. But Lesokwane insists that there is nothing confusing going on as the interim committee had been planning the awards for a while now, and had even roped in sponsors.

He said that the awards had been organised since last week but they had to change the date due to a few glitches. Lesokwane says that they had opted for the people’s choice approach to awards. “We have given the public the power to decide who they want to vote for under the different categories. What happens is that when you vote you sms the category and name of the artist to 16565. We are then going to tally the votes when voting lines close on 23 January 2019.

We will then cut down the number of entries based on the number of votes. This will make the process easier for our judges, who will listen to the artists’ CDs and give them points.” He further said that having a high number of votes would not automatically mean that an artist makes it. “One might have many votes but with low quality music and we consider that. We are looking at quality
Lesokwane said that when former chairperson Pagson Ntsie was outsed, the awards were still open. “Registration is still on at BOMU office in Kgolagano at Main mall. Those who had registered can check their documentation.”

Last year BOMU was wrecked by infightings following a ruling that Pagson Ntsie is not the legitimate chairperson of the music body. The ruling was passed in August by the Registrar of Societies. The ruling came following investigations regarding adherence to the BOMU Constitution and corruption claims. Accusations of financial mismanagement and poor leadership also cropped up.

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