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RECLAIMING OUR HISTORY AND IDENTITY THROUGH ART

Keletso Thobega

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In an interview with Vibe, Molosi says that as Africans we are the descendants of a people whose corpses Europeans stole to exhibit in Europe for entertainment.

“We are the country that went ahead and buried El Negro’s remains with no protest even though some of his body parts and grave goods remain in Spain. We are also the nation that too-conveniently omits this important story from national knowledge because our curricula remain resolutely colonised. It is the time to stand upright and decolonise our self-knowledge as Africans.” Moremi explains that the inspiration for Ancestor comes from their mutual compassion towards Africanness.

“We realise that much has been robbed from our own self through the colonial project. Ancestor is an attempt at recognising what has been lost, what has been corrupted and reclaiming what we lost and healing wounds of colonial corruption.” He also says that decolonisation is not a one-person project. “It must be understood as a complex process that involves many intersections of personhood, patriarchy, gender and sexual identity. It is because of this complexity that Ancestor cannot be staged through one medium alone, this collaboration is symbolic, it takes to reclaim our history, understanding that we are complex human beings who perceive the world through different lenses.” He adds that many young Africans do not value their own history because they have been, and continue to be taught that is not worth the paper it is written on.

“We must first dispel this myth and teach young people that our history is beautiful and deserves documentation. We need young artists to document and draw inspiration from their origin stories instead of continuing the slavish reproduction of western pop-culture.”

Molosi and Moremi first met a few years ago through Letlhogonolo’s DM Media company. Says Molosi: “It was when I told Letlhogonolo about El Negro a few months ago though that we both knew we had to do something to honor and acknowledge El Negro. I took Letlhogonolo to El Negro’s grave at Tsholofelo Park in Gaborone and, having understood the magnitude of this story, he was shocked to the wretched state that the grave is in. That sight broke both our hearts and led us eventually to this work.” Molosi explains that everything about this story is a study in who we Africans have and continue to be.

“We are the descendants of a people whose corpses Europeans stole to exhibit in Europe for entertainment. We are the country that went ahead and buried El Negro’s remains with no protest even though some of his body parts and grave goods remain in Spain. We are also the nation that too-conveniently omits this important story from national knowledge because our curricula remain resolutely colonised. It is the time to stand upright and decolonise our self-knowledge as Africans.”  The two echo that through Ancestor they want to create a mood, an experience… “And an experience like that can only be enhanced by tapping into various storytelling devices.

We are excited to reflect on the 190th anniversary since this Motlhaping man’s body was stolen from his grave and taken to Europe to be exhibited for the amusement of Europeans. His body was on public display in Spain for over 160 years. Naturally one wonders to what extent our treatment of El Negro’s remains on home soil differs from the treatment he was given in Spain. That is the mood of reflection we are going for. A much bigger African revolution is here and if we weren’t so focused on squabbles between politicians we would see and harness that African revolution.”

The evening performances will feature singer Kitso Selato of My Star fame as well as actor Bayani Moilwa in recitals. Molosi says that Kitso and Bayani are some of the talented actors who staged his off-Broadway play called Motswana in Gaborone last year. “This is the time of collaboration in Botswana arts. We just want to share the story of El Negro and challenge people to reflect on whichever part of the story speaks to them the most.”

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BOSJE elevates jazz education in Botswana

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CHANGING LIVES: Music has the power to empower youth.

The Botswana Society of Jazz Education (BOSJE) will host the 9th annual International Jazz Day for the 3rd time this year at the Maitisong theatre. According to the founding chairperson Akhutlheng Mogami, the society was formed to create a platform for jazz musicians and aspiring jazz musicians to grow and share ideas and even have their work documented.

“As a society, we have realized a need for jazz education. There is also no documentation about jazz in Botswana, which makes it difficult for both the teachers and students when it comes to teaching and learning about jazz as there is no local content to refer to. It is also for purposes of funding applications to run workshops and host festivals and exchange programs that we needed to have a legally registered nonprofit making entity as this one,” she said.

BOSJE was officially registered on the 31st of August 2015 with the registrar of societies and some its objectives include to ensure the growth of Jazz in Botswana and development of jazz education; to build jazz community by advancing education and research; to document, preserve and archive our Botswana jazz heritage; to promote skills development and performance through jazz camps, exchange programs and jazz shows and festivals, and to also develop new audiences.

In January 2017 the society formed a youth jazz big band (Big Bands). Mogami noted that they managed to bring together young people from all walks of life to teach them about jazz and how to play jazz. Since then, the band has been growing substantially both musically and professionally. She noted that The Big Bands in Botswana project which aims to put together jazz bands in schools and communities all over the country. “The project brings together young people and teaches them to play music in an ensemble set up.

The project commenced on the 15th of February 2019 with the primary objective of this project is to bring positive social change through music. Children who are involved in this music program receive a music education, which we believe will lead them to improved overall academic success. The children will also learn the essential skills needed for the 21st century workforce.

In addition to that, these children will also have a platform to exercise their creativity, and all this will in turn grow their confidence.” The band has graced the Masire foundation annual gala dinner, International Jazz Day, Annual De Beers sight holders Dinner, and Gaborone toastmasters among others.

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Diva Vebrok and Benson Phutego drop love sin gle

The MidweekSun Admin

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NEW OFFERING: Benson & Diva Vebrok’s listening session rocked

Diva Vebrok and Benson Phutego recently released their joint single titled Ha o ka leba. The two launched the song at a listening session at Greenberry Gardens. Music artists including Nono, Franco and promoters PP and Gloria Dzwikiti as well as other industry role players flocked the venue to listen to what the two have to offer and they were not disappointed.

The single is good quality – from the melody, lyrics, rthyme and production. The divine diva Diva Vebrok adds a golden touch with her smooth voice while the bold and eloquent Phutego’s voice complements hers as he breaks out into poetry.

Director of ceremony at the listening session Berry Heart also kept the crowd galvanised throughout the night with her energetic spirit. President of Music Promotions Zenzele Hirschfield expressed appreciation for the support rendered to the two and highlighted that it is important for artists to support one another. “I am honoured to see that that many people in the local music industry have come out to support their fellow artists.

This means a lot and we really need to unite as artists all the time,” she said. She sang praises for Diva Vebrok who she said was passionate and hard working. “She is more than just an artist but also an influencer and entrepreneur. She is one of the women in the music industry who work hard and never give up on their craft,” she said.

Phutego impressed the crowd with his words of wisdom as he appreciated being featured by Ve brok on the single. “It was great working with her as she is passionate and hard working. Women are the pillars of society and as such they should be respected. I have no regrets about this project because I am confident that we produced a great love song.”

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