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When rain clouds gather…

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A photographic exhibition titled Maruapula by Thalefang Charles is currently on show at the Thapong Arts Centre gallery until the 4th October. It boasts 30 awe-inspiring images taken over a period of five years. Charles notes that Maruapula coincides with September (Lwetse in Setswana – the month of sick clouds). Pula is not only currency, but also that rain is an integral part of the life of any Motswana. Rain perhaps resonates differently with people, but essentially, it has a personal significance. Most of the images are of veldts, roads and settlements but all capture clouds in different motions.

Like most Batswana, Charles was raised in a village, playing nkgodisa and the likes. From a young age he had to know which side the clouds were coming from because if the dark clouds were rising from Mogatsapoo (south west of Serowe) he had to run home because that would be pula ya matlakadibe (storm). One cannot help but conjure images of a young Charles, beady eyes staring at the sky, shaking at the grumbling of the clouds and running home, chest puffed out, dirty feet making strides to arrive home before the first pelt of rain hits the ground.

“When the thundering storm approached, I had to remember to cover mirrors in the house before the lightening saw its reflection, got angry and struck our house.” He further says that as a small child, rain brought joy and inconveniences. In Setswana traditional custom, when we exchange greetings or pleasantries, we ask about rain. We are a nation that prays for rain. Furthermore, “We come from a history of people who boasted rainmakers – and rain is associated with happiness and prosperity, but lack of it with hunger, frustration and even death,” as Charles states. He says that the title Maruapula, has a literal meaning but each image has a unique story behind it. “I have been following clouds, storms for a while and I felt it was time to present them.” Charles shares that the picture that has special significance is Matlakadibe.

“As small boys we knew that when matakadibe comes, you must run home.” Charles, who is also the author of the book Botswana’s Top 50 Ultimate Experiences, says that that he loves good stories. “A few years ago I discovered that I could retell stories with pictures. Photography is a powerful medium to tell stories. Everything has a story: trees, animals, roads, clouds, places… and obviously, people. The Internet has also brought out the storytellers in us.” He says that the arts deserve support and investment. “I have been using my own money to finance my projects but received help in some.” He further says that artists should utilise the resources at their disposal to boost their profile. “I encourage young people to publish their art through online mediums. I say to young artists, ‘Keep publishing what you already have and compete with your best. Be your biggest critic but don’t let anyone tear you down.”

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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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