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Foodie entrepreneur makes sphatlo fashionable

Keletso Thobega

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Food is art and can be a means to eke a decent living. One young person who has capitalised on the yearning for wholesome soul food is Mopati Mapogo, who runs Munchies Cafe in Francistown, which specialises in serving sphatlho, or kota, as it is also known as.

His humble stall along Blue Jacket street in front of the old Immigration offices is often busy with hungry customers filing for a bite of the unique delicacy. Although often confused with bunny chow, in an interview with Vibe, Mapogo was quick to explain that there is a difference between the two. “The base of a bunny chow is half a loaf of bread while a sphatlho is made from a quarter loaf of bread.

Also, the bread of the bunny chow is hollowed out and filled with mince, lamb or mutton while sphatlho is also hollowed out and filled with fries (chips), atchaar, polony, cheese, lettuce and russian,” he said.

The 22-year-old Mapogo was born in Jwaneng and moved between the mining town and Francistown. He went to Mophato and Acacia schools before completing his secondary schooling at Prestige College in South Africa. It was during his time there that he learned about spatlho. “In 2010 a friend of mine invited me to Soshangue, on the outskirts of Pretoria, and that is when I ate my first sphatlho.

Anyone who has been to South Africa knows how crazy they are about this delicacy. I fell in love at first bite and couldn’t get enough of it.” But it took him falling on hard times to figure out that he could make a living through this yummy snack.Two years ago he flunked his studies at University of Botswana where he had been pursuing law. With little prospects and no income he thought it was best to come up with a business.

“I knew that it had to be unique – something that people do not experience every day. That is when the spatlho idea came to mind. I could not fund my business at the time but luckily I got a job last year and was able to save from the little money I earned and officially opened Munchies Cafe last month.”

Mapogo would like to see Munchies Cafe grow into a franchise, employing more people and paying them decent wages. He noted that government could do more to assist youth in informal businesses by levelling the playing field.

“We are running innovative and attractive businesses but not enough people know about them because government is not laying a solid platform for us.” But the lad is not lying on his laurels as he continues to work hard. “The reception to the business is better than I had anticipated especially when you consider that this is a new product here. The support I have received is amazing.”

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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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