As a youngster coming up in our burgeoning city of Gabs in the late seventies and early 80s, I would, alongside some of my friends and cousins, go and watch car races at what was then called the ‘Cotton Fields,’ a disused piece of farmland, on the then western edge of the city, over the railway line, approximately in the area which now sits the Central Business District (CBD) – itself a burgeoning and prosperous piece of real estate at the heart of the city, housing offices, banks, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and we also hear, even some residential apartments, too.
Those were the heydays of the great scrambler motorbike and the off-road ‘Sand-Master’ car – a racing machine made simply of thick metal rods hung onto the chassis of a car to hold the engine, two seats and a set of wheels in place, basically; yet that simple frame could mount and tackle any obstacle put on its way and dispose of rough corners and curves with such dexterity and lightning speed it would soon put to shame better known and more trusted brands like the Land Rover, Chev Nomad, Cruiser, Ford, and the like.
Then over the years those early seeds of the Cotton Fields era would evolve and transmogrify into something bigger, both in size and spatial coverage, in the form of the Trans Kalahari Road Race – an epic, multi-day cross Kgalagadi desert odyssey that would see drivers going away for days on end, before suddenly re-appearing to pop the champagne bottle and claim the trophy. Until, in more recent times, came the 1000 km Toyota Desert Race – better known by its moniker of ‘Mantshwabisi,’ denoting a village by the same name located in the vicinity of the Thebephatshwa Air-base along the Molepolole-Letlhakeng road, in the Kweneng District, on the other side of the Bakwena capital, which had over time established itself as a popular camping spot during the race.
However, as the routes of the annual off-road show swayed and shifted, year in, year out, some of the more popular viewing spots and epicentres of the car and motorbike races that one would also come to visit and camp out at would include the Bakwena ploughing areas of Gakgatla and the surrounds of Kumakwane village, all in Kweneng. Then came another major and transformational stage in the ever-evolving trans Kgalagadi desert race – with it now moving even further away from the greater Gaborone area, and deeper into the desert, by way of the diamond mining town of Jwaneng, where its second edition in its new desert outpost was hosted earlier this year.
And while distances – and expenses, of course – have by all accounts risen markedly for car-race lovers and outdoors-starved residents of the capital, who normally patronise and form a sizeable portion of those in attendance at such events, we may also take consolation in the knowledge that moving the epic off-road event away from the greater Gabs city area, at the least, opens up opportunities for those of our own who are doing business in J-town and its surroundings, especially the small-scale, informal sector operators.
So then at the height of our last winter this year, and in its second coming since it relocated to J-town, as almost everybody on the ground seems to christen their town, ‘Mantshwabisi’ came beckoning again – this time in the form of a tall, lanky fellow, a cousin of ours from Moleps, and a real Mokwena man who ekes out a living as a long-distance, cross-border, extra heavy-duty driver for the Chinese-owned mega corporation, China Civil, a guy called MacMillan, and who, when we meet during the week, ahead of the on-coming weekend event, abruptly announces, ‘Tyga, I’m home this weekend with a car, why should we miss ‘Mantshwabisi’?’
He need not have asked. It was already a done deal; even before he could begin to open his mouth to ask his rather rhetorical and ever superfluous question. So come Friday evening after work and off we go, accompanied by one of Millan’s younger nephews, a school-going youngster of about sixteen, but who, against all expectations, would later turn out to be such a real piece of disaster, wreaking havoc on the cooler-box which somebody had placed unthinkingly beside him on the backseat of the Nissan SUV; meanwhile, another favourite nephew, Kgosi, has not made the trip, his parents refusing to budge before any of Millan’s pleas on the boy’s behalf, insisting the lad was in the middle of his mid-year exams. Then, on the way out of town, it soon turns out that the SUV, despite its magnificent and appealing looks on the outside and the sufficiently convincing roar of its engine, has some problem with its lighting system, its upper beam failing us as we approach the Polokwe escarpment on the Gabane-Sejelo highway, forcing us to park and encamp for the night on the side of the road.
And so we sleep in the car, under the dark, starry sky, on the foothills of Polokwe. And, with hindsight, one might now say that we should have read the signs of the times at that very point, and acted accordingly. But, to our later detriment, we did not heed that silent reproach of the gods!
So, at daybreak, the next morning, Millan revs up the engine, like his heavy industrial boot were back on the familiar foot-pedal of his work-horse, and we hit the road again, heading further on to J-town.
It takes slightly less than an hour to get there and before too long, at around eight or nine in the morning, we’ve already joined the fray, and are right in the mix, congregating alongside hundreds of other racing-car enthusiasts and sport lovers at the first viewing spot along the Jwaneng-Mabutsane road – itself a part of a very busy industrial and commercial artery that is the Trans Kgalagadi Highway, boasting trade links which stretch from the east coast of the sub-continent, in the Indian Ocean port-city of Maputo, Mozambique, to the Atlantic seaboard in Walvis Bay, Namibia, on the west coast.
But, back at the desert-race viewing spot, few people seem to be thinking much about the lucrative, sub-regional trade that passes through their town on a daily basis; instead, they’re kicking back and quietly sipping on their ales, or, in the case of the younger and more agile ones, jumping about excitedly at the sight of the noisy Sand Master that thunderously announces its arrival, a few minutes after we reach the area; generally almost everybody, including some familiar faces from the greater GC area that we come across, seem to be only too happy and full of praise, they say, that, at least for once, the ‘puso’ [the government’, or ‘the police’!] are today in something of a mellow mood and aren’t so keen on enforcing their anti-alcohol regulations as stringently as they can sometimes do, to the point of simultaneously arresting and detaining scores and scores of revellers on the eve of major public holidays.
We hang around the place awhile, taking in the bubbly, excited mood of jubilant fans and friends that we meet there, happy to see each other again, out here, after so long a time, and so far away from home, at this annual off-road fiesta, watching and ululating windswept vehicles as they noisily ram in and out of sight amid such fanfare and sheer style, like it were all music in the air! Then after that we’re off again into the town looking for something decent and reasonably priced to chow, before we drive around surveying a couple more viewing spots, as well as planning where we shall set up camp and light our fire later in the night.
Then it’s more and more of the dirty and besmirched racing car after racing car, scrambler after scrambler, and more fun and laughter!
But, intuitively reminded of the condition of the car’s lighting, we retire early to camp, choosing a spot a short distance off the Jwaneng-Mabutsane road, alongside a number of other night owls who’ve also sacrificed the comfort of their homes to come and sit it out here, braving the cold and whistling wind of a Kalahari night in the winter. Nightfall comes early in winter, but in the Kalahari it seems things are worse, with its sparse and silhouetted acacia trees and stunted shrubs forming a desolate and ghostly backdrop in the horizon, much earlier than you might expect in other parts of Botswana.
From what I can still recall of the rest of the events of that evening, before ‘blacking out’ with the rw pain of a broken and twisted bone, we had been offloading firewood, camping equipment and stuff from the jalopy, including the cooler box that the youngster did not want to part with, preparing to pitch our tent and set up camp, when, all of a sudden, from one end of the camp, a loud clatter of voices erupted, shouting ‘Legodu! Legodu!’ [‘Thief!Thief’].
And soon thereafter a short, stocky figure of a guy in baggy pants comes sweeping past our camp, clumsily trying to hold onto a ‘dori’ [street slang for a ‘hat’] perched on his head, while outpacing the menacing throng in hot pursuit behind him, before running down the beaten up car alley, exiting on the other side of the Mabutsane road.
‘They’ll never catch him,’ I tell Millan, who is bringing down the wood from the car, while I busy myself away looking for a missing packet of fags in the car. ‘He’s too good, too good, for them!’ But just about then, another loud cacophony of angry voices, some persistently questioning the would-be culprit, ‘Jaanong o siela eng?’ [‘So why are you running away?’], breaks the silence of the camp, coming from the other side of the road, signalling that the would-be criminal had been caught and brought home to answer for his doings. ‘What’s happening?’ I ask Millan, turning around to face him. ‘What’s happening?’ he repeats my question, relishing his moment. ‘You’re the one who was just saying that they’d never catch him, so what are you saying now, mister?’
And, without much thought, like someone trying to make some amends of sorts, I make him a proposal which I would soon live to regret.
‘Ok, then, let me go check whatta gwaan!’I make the offer as I abandon whatever task I was on about and start trotting towards the main road, hoping it might give me a quick glimpse into what is happening in that little skirmish brewing up at the end of the beaten down car alley! Then when I am almost there, the angry and hostile vigilante group and their alleged ‘culprit’ becoming visible ahead of me, on the other side of the road, I notice, mid-sprint, that there is a car, some greyish Toyota Corolla, swerving off the road and spinning off the rails as it advances towards me. I almost want to hold it off with my bare hands, feeling as if I have been caught going one way while I should be going in the opposite direction.
It hits me with its left fender on the right shin, sending me hurling backwards, and landing with a thud. I have just enough faith and energy left in me to realise that I have broken both bones of the lower right leg (the ‘tib-fib’, as the doctors call it in their own lingo) and ask a bystander to call me my brother down the road so he may take me to the nearest health facility at once, and everything else could wait until later on! Unfortunately, that would include missing the next day’s programme, leading to the completion of the race. I would read later on the Monday paper, dropped for me on the hospital side-table by Millan that this year’s race was won by the Toyota group.
But, even in that state, I would still recall having seen the tail-lights of the car brightening up like the driver were braking in order to come out and assess the damage; but, alas, no, I would find out later that this had been another one of those hit-and-run cases, the trail going cold almost at once. Then I ‘black out’ in pain, and tears. When I come to, I am in the emergency room of the Jwaneng mine hospital, a nurse taking my temperature and checking the bp, and a doctor tearing off the side hem of my jeans and cutting loose the shoelaces of my takkies with a sharp hospital razor blade, to get to the injured leg, which they bandage before applying a temporary cast; afterwards they give me some antibiotics and painkillers, enough to tranquilise me to sleep until the next day!
I’m their case now, I sense, another medical statistic entering the public health system. And so I would remain, even following two weeks of surgery at Princess Marina, where I had been referred on the next day – sharing an ambulance with a middle-aged woman patient suffering some post-natal complications, and screaming all the way from the Kalahari hinterland to the eastern hardveld – followed again by another extended period of immobility and constant ‘elevation’ of the leg – all of which soon hits me with a queer sense of déjà vu, having once been their client in our early primary school days on account of a broken ankle incurred during a school sporting event.
Except only this time I think the hospital, notwithstanding the effects of the current national water crisis, has grown tremendously since those early days, and now boasts a large pool of medical experts and specialists, including a good number of young local doctors, who are using some of the latest, cutting edge medical technology available.
Besides, they saved my life…!
Local artistes steal the show at GIMC concert
La Timmy gave his best as usual and set the mood a notch higher with his upbeat sounds.Meanwhile, Boogie Sid took the crowd way back with a set reminiscent of the early 2000s. Robbie Rob and Brando also gave a fun set that had dancing along. Meanwhile, Sjava’s performance was quite tepid.
He didn’t seem excited to be on stage and his performance was bland from start to finish. Han C on the other hand was a fireball of energy and set the pace, proving that local is truly lekker. The Sedilaka star belted out in tune while also gyrating madly as if his life depended on it. Many sang along to his hits Mafura fura and Se-ileng.
South African rapper Nasty C also held his own fort and although his performance was nothing to write home about, he seemingly gave his fans their money’s worth as they cheered wildly. The Hell No hitmaker saved the popular song for last and everyone sang along to the jam with a catchy hook.
Another energetic performer was Master KG who has been making waves recently. His unique sound, a mix of kwaito, mosakaso had many wiggling and jiggling as if they have ants in their pants. The Situation and Skeleton hitmaker and his dancers churned infectious dance moves throughout their performance.
Meanwhile, Lady Zamar churned hits such as Collide, Criminal, Charlotte and My Baby among others, as she showed off her well-choreographed dance moves. Prince Kaybee was in his usual element and while it was not his best night, most revellers enjoyed the house tunes, especially the hit Club Controller, which can make even the most uptight person lose their morals and hump and bump in the air.
One of the revellers Tshidiso Mokaila said she had enjoyed the concert. “It was chilly but the whole show was well-organised, from the sound to security. It was my first time here and I had the time of my life. I will definitely come again next year,” she said. Another reveller who only identified himself as Tshepo said that the popularity of the bash seemed to be declining but said he was impressed that the organisers had beefed up security this time around.
“We had fun knowing that our cars are safe. The performances were just OK but I think that the no cooler box policy turned off many people especially as there was only one beer on sale and no ciders.” The MCs for the night Loungo, Sadi and Somizi did a sterling job and kept revellers in a party mood. While the previous editions were much better than this year’s instalment, there were few incidents this time around. Revellers let their hair down and partied the night away until the wee hours of the morning.
The sky is the limit for Ginah Molodi
In what started as only a mere passion for music at the age of (11) for Ginah Tinah Molodi, it has now changed into a big reality as she recently featured in one of the most decorated DJ in Botswana Boineelo Othusitse known as DJ Bino in a single house-track dubbed Ke Mosadi. Growing up, 23-year-old Molodi was a vital member of the Praise and Worship at her church.
In a recent interview with Vibe, Molodi said that her mother had always encouraged her to give her best. “My late mother has always been my mother, a role model, a best friend, an instigator and that really kept going because she motivated me,” she said.
The Mmadinare born aspirant artiste made her first major appearance in one of the Botswana Television (BTV) talent show called My African Dream before deciding to try her luck on this year’s My Star Show, “I have always dreamt of joining My Star from the moment it started broadcasting on BTV and I only got join this year because I wanted to share my talent with Botswana as I always believed in my singing and the talent that got has given me. Winning would have been a great bonus to me,” she said.
Molodi further reiterated on her current main enthusiast who is apparently her aunt. “The one person who was always behind me is my aunt Thusano Moseki, she has always been my biggest fan and she used to call me at my tenure at My Star wanting to find out whether I chose either the right song or rehearsed well and stuff and that really motivated me a lot as she strongly believed in me,” she said.
Molodi said being eliminated in the My Star Top 12 had not deterred her as she went on to release a single. “I did not win at My Star but that never really discouraged me because I have so many people that believe in me. I decided to do a single titled Ke Mosadi which is basically a personal song and it celebrates a women from her phenomenal transition from a young to a women with a massive help from DJ Bino as my producer,” she said.
Meanwhile, DJ Bino said that Molodi’s brother had sent him her audio. “When I first heard that our home girl is currently at My Star, I told her brother to send me the audio and she was amazing. I promptly decided to start working with her.
She did not win maybe because sometimes the judges do not see what we see as producers hence I took liberty to do a song with her because I appreciate her talent,” he said. DJ Bino added that Molodi still had a long way to go as she will soon be working with big names such as Odirile ‘Vee’Sento, Busi (Malawi) to push her promising music career to greater heights. DJ Bino also confirmed that he was working on dropping his 2nd album, which will be titled The Journey.
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