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Pantsula take Botswana by storm

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Preach against alcohol, drugs and crime

Formalisation of pantsula movement in the pipeline

Once a pantsula, always a pantsula; it is a lifestyle. The pantsula never fail to turn heads because they always look dapper. Dandyism is a part of black culture and the pantsula are no exception.

Their style has been unaffected by the evolution of trends and pervasive street style in black communities. But for the pantsula, it is more than being fashion conscious but also paying homage to their black roots and reflecting a significant cultural period that resonates even today. The cultural and aesthetic of pantsula might not be well-documented, but in recent years more people have become interested in them.

The pantsula movement emerged in the 1950s and 60s. Initially, it was just a pastime for largely young men who danced to entertain themselves. It was later perceived as a response to forced removals during the Apartheid era – as you might know, black South Africans used song and dance to express themselves during that challenging time. The high-energy ecstatic sycophantic dance style became more popular over the years. Considering that Africans often copy trends from the West, pantsula remains one of the styles and modern sub-cultures unique to southern Africa.

There are many ma-pantsula in Botswana; a bit more than you could possibly imagine, actually. No, not run off the mill riff-raff who pick pocket and stab people, but rather clean, respectable and responsible men and women, who are passionate about the sub-culture.

This past weekend the pantsula from Old Naledi branch members inspirited a street parade hosted by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture development on Saturday morning. They later flocked to Mochudi to join hundreds of members from more than ten other branches across the country, who took part in a parade festival hosted to fight alcohol and drug abuse.

The executive team, comprised of chairman Fejus ‘BraFejo’ Modise, Senki ‘Tiza’ Chaba, Mompati ‘Sparks’ Dikgomo and Ntsima ‘Tizolah’ Sekao, are intent on ensuring that ma-pantsula get a positive image. I get this sense when I meet them for an interview on a cool Monday morning. They beam when they see me and greet in the traditional Setswana manner, exchanging polite pleasantries. Clad in stylish garb, they attract attention as passersby jostle to look or ask for a picture.

Confidence pours from their every pore as they sway in stride. The youngest, Tizolah, has a spring in his step and seems ready to break into energetic dance. But apart from the pantsula vibes, they are ordinary family men, sons, uncles and members of society, who are worried about the social ills and want to see a better future for the country. Dikgomo explains that the culture derived from Mbanqanga music, which paved way to disco. “At the time, local pantsula danced to South African township music. The likes of Dan Tshanda introduced township disco here,” he recalls. A meeting with Patrick Boloko who was a member of the Botswana Defence Force led to the idea of taking pantsula seriously. “At that time, we were dancing for Don B shortly after the release of his offering Banna wee,” he says. They later hooked up with Senki. The trio established a pantsula movement and named it Dlala Pantsula. Last year they met Modise, who hails from Kopong, who suggested that they host pantsula dance competitions across the country. They have not looked back since. They have traversed southern Botswana and have been to Thamaga, Kanye, Molepolole, Kopong, Tlokweng, Lentsweletau and Mochudi. The next parade festival will be in Ramotswa on the 7th of October.

Modise says that reception has been promising but they need tangible support. They currently want to help an underprivileged former pantsula based in Mahalapye but are struggling to piece together the project due to lack of funds. Chaba says that they also want to purchase a combi bus and have resources to incentive winners in their competitions, as well as travel around the country. “We want to go to places such as Maun and other areas in the North,” he says. They want to build trust in communities and work with the police and community leaders to help combat crime. “The kgosi in Old Naledi recently summoned us and expressed gratitude over what we do. The police have also stated their faith in us,” Dikgomo says. The groups also perform at weddings and parties and other social events. They can be reached on 76 39 50 51.

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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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