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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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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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