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Festival of Kerala – an explosion of Indian folk expression

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Hundreds of Malayalees – the Kerala Indian commuity living in Botswana –celebrated their Keralaotsavam or Festival of Kerala this past Saturday at Maitisong hall, Maru-a-Pula secondary school.

Held under the auspices of Kerala Samajam Botswana, the festival brought together the over 600-strong Kerala Community that resides and works in different parts of Botswana under one roof to share, reminisce and celebrate their culture in song, dance and to showcase their traditional attire. Dignitaries, among them former President Festus Mogae, India’s High Commissioner to Botswana, Dr Rajesh Ranjan and his wife, Dr. Upma Ranjan as well as Russian and Japanese envoys and the president of Kerala Samajan Botswana Sreejith Alakkat – graced the event.

Making a keynote address, former president Mogae extolled the importance of the festival as an ocassion to people-to-people diplomacy. Having visited the State of Kerala in southern India on three ocassions, Mogae, eho turns 80 this year, said the festival helps to cement the bonds and ties that exist betweenthe peoples of Botswana and India. It was however, not so much the speeches that the excited crowds yearned to hear instead they wanted to be immersed in the line-up of cultural events displayed in folk and contemporary song and dance.

The items on display in the various colourful array of presentation were performed by 130 participants under the able guidance of 12 dhoreographers, all of whom were given mementos at the end of every musical or dramatic show. Among the repertoire on show were Mohiniyatam – one of eght classical dances of India that was developed and remains popular in Kerala; Thiiruvathira – a Hindu festival celebrated in Kerala ss the birthday of Lord Shiva; there was also the Oppana- a popular form of social entertainment among the Mappila – these are the Kerala Muslims as well as Kerala nadanam – a relatively new style of dance curreently recognised as a distinct art form mevolved from Kathakali, which is a form of Indian dance-drana.

The performances continued until midnight and were punctuated by dinner; cinematic shows and prize giving breaks during which guests and patrons enjoyed sumptuous Indian meals. According to one of the Kerala Salamajan Botswana committee member, members of the Kerala Community comprise largely of professional Accontants and Teachers and have only recently ventured into the business side.

The patron of the association is Ramgoolam (Ram) of the Choppies brand; while some of the business-minded Kerala community membersare found in the gas and oil industry; Botho University; and accounting firms.This community is revered for having bequeathed Botswana with the first Indian doctor, Dr. Nair, who worked at Princess Marina Hosiptal and is renowned for having attended to the health of former presidents – the late Sir Ketumile Masire and former president Festus Mogae. She and her husband, one of the pioneering engineers at RoadsTransport and Safety will be retiring to India very soon.

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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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