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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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KUX DROPS LEFATSHE LENO

Keletso Thobega

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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

Keletso Thobega

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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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