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Kg’ oesakeni: The Musical, to thrill theatre lovers

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A play that explores the themes around the new found life of the Basarwa, told through the eyes of a young Kua maiden, a granddaughter of Nzabwe will thrill theatre lovers at Maitisong next week Saturday. The story is portrayed through the native song and dance of the Kgalagadi people.

According to a press release from the production companies, Lepatata Arts Ensemble and Botswana Blue arts series Foundation, in his book Tears for my land, Kwela Kiema explains that New Xade was named Kg’ oesakeni (which means ‘in search of a better life’) by a delegation of four men, including himself, in April 1997. Sources indicate that it was inspired by the government relocation of the people of New Xade, which was intended to give them “a new lease on life”.

The play explores the themes around their new life- their identity, spirituality, socio-economics and general well-being. According to the director and writer of the musical play, Shabba Kgotlaetsho, the case between Basarwa and government that culminated in 2008 intrigued and propelled him to research and find out more about the Basarwa. Initially he wanted to shoot a film but later resorted to a stage play. He updated the details and added oomph to the script, to give it substance and relevance.

“This play presents what I have assessed and brings the viewer into the realm of their life,” he said in an interview with Vibe. The creative arts space is not without challenges, even for Kgotlaetsho, who has many years of experience as an arts practitioner. Top of the challenges is financial constraints. “Putting together this production together cost about 300 thousand Pula but we are likely to get much less profit. There are many expenses one incurs. Right now, I have 18 Basarwa living with me right now. I have to accommodate and feed them. It is a tall order and one has to rely on generosity and favours.” He further lamented that government is focused on grassroots development of the arts and doesn’t pay much attention to matured artists.

“There is a disturbing discord between government and artists. We have created a system that just doesn’t work,” he said. He further explained that lack of financial support is a huge impediment that can frustrate even those the most talented practitioner. Kgotlaetsho however insisted that Batswana are patriotic and support home grown talent. “The problem is that there isn’t sufficient marketing of projects, so the audience would not know about the production,” he said.

Last year Kgotlaetsho staged Hosana, a musical celebrating Botswana through Kalanga spiritual music systems of Hosana, Sangoma and Mancomane. The story is a plot against faith and religion at a time when Christian missionaries made first contact with Southern Africa. Exploring local social communities’ values and needs, the story covers a fictitious nation of Baka-Habangana community whose village chief was the first to convert to the Christian religion.

The play received rave reviews. Before then, Kgotlaetsho had been rendering support to different ensembles until he decided to go at it alone. It has been a journey fuelled by passion but not without pain, and resilience has carried him through especially as he focused on the bigger picture. The support from the public has also encouraged him to continue telling relevant and interesting stories unique to Botswana’s social and political landscape.

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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

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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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