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Chillstep Sunday’s heads for gloomy last step

The largest contemporary urban creation platform developed by Drew Chadhall to find support for and bring attention to young creators in Gaborone is shockingly coming to an end, come December 2019. 

Chillstep Sundays is inspired by the roles that creativity and this new generation of creators, fashion enthusiast and fun-lovers play in the transformation of life in our city. Drew shines a light on the living portrait of a new generation of creators that shapes customs, attitudes, lifestyles…This platform is an unprecedented, ambitious project, which has the potential to grow the entertainment industry in Botswana.

Sadly though, the event has reached bedrock. Weekend Life reporter Tlhabo Kgosiemang came across a short, less detailed statement on social media declaring the end of road of this incredible project. The statement posted on the 3rd October at six in the evening reads ‘’December marks the very last Chillstep Sunday’s. Trust that October, November and December editions will be memorable, the shutdown being the most timeless. Join us as we reflect and share a lot on an interesting and fun journey the last four years been. #Thefinalstep. For Chillstep Sunday’s cohorts and allies, this was the hardest pill to swallow. It’s sad but true; there will be no more Chillstep Sunday’s come 2020. Was a miserable slant to end the year, which was somehow off-putting in its own way!

Well, my efforts to reach the mastermind behind Chillstep Sundays Drew Chadhall were successful. I essentially wanted to establish what might be the cause of this tear-jerking involvement, as it is for its aficionados. In an email I sent to him on Monday, the whole essence was to at least give short information for us to share with devotees, so they know. You know, it is very substantial for folks to read and get to comprehend much better what transpired, instead of leaving them dangling with queries. He said in an interview that ‘’Chillstep Sundays has been running independently for the past 4 years, consistently. The movement was created to give youth between 18 and 21 a home to explore and share their talents, network among each other, to celebrate youth in arts, music and most of all a happy and safe place for such a creative youth market. When we started the risky movement, we set the bar extremely high, giving Batswana an event with exceptional standards, the movement has run its course, discovered talent, provided an unforgettable experience and broke boundaries and now it’s time to put it to rest.

What impact would this have on creative? Drew underlined that that there will definitely be a gap in the industry as this was the only platform that whole heartedly gave it’s all to promote and include creative of all sorts, film, fashion, social influence, bikers, visual artists and performing artists. ‘’The youth especially those in the arts rarely had a voice and Chillstep came through and fought a tough battle for them, it’s not only about the fun but most of all building a culture that was somewhat neglected. I doubt creative will ever get a platform like this but I hope for the best’’. Chadhall gave an assurance that Chillstep Sunday’s will never die, saying that the monthly sessions won’t happen anymore. ‘’We will have only two huge sessions a year, in July for the birthday and in December. However, certain aspects of it will remain running, such as the workshops, the meets and greets, art exhibition and merchandise will continue to run. The event is relatively expensive and faces a challenge of finance. ‘’Because we set the standards high the movement got more expensive, it is not often that a monthly movement survives for this long with such high standards and quality delivery, that doesn’t come cheap’’ he said.

Nonetheless, I trailed their page basically to get to appreciate what positive and negative impact the platform has had on our local creative, and the influence it had towards growing the entertainment industry in Botswana. I must say I’m enthralled with the contribution it had towards the industry, it certainly played its role. Chillstep Sunday’s both creatively and socially, provided a unique and vibrant urban framework in which some of the most powerful creator’s values- youth, vitality, creative energy, social transformation, and connectivity- are displayed. It is a reference for creators in and around Gaborone and is a prime example of how new ideas transform social and urban life.

The platform touches three creative environments that are highly relevant vehicles for the new generation of creators, bloggers, fashion enthusiast, photographers, fun-fanatics, social media influencers and young entrepreneurs. These are: contemporary creation, music and urban art. This is a generation of young creators with a new vision, immersed in a digital ecosystem, constantly blending creative environments and in love with creative disruption in all artistic disciplines and formats. Chillstep Sunday’s is a space for cultural and urban creativity and innovation. It is an artistic powerhouse that is mandated to maintain the city in the centre of the current urbanistic trends. Additionally, the platform’s aim of putting local art and creativity on the main stage will help develop economic, urban and social facets. It offers multidisciplinary activities such as photography, visual arts, fashion, food, music and dance. The project promotes artistic hybridisation and helps artists experience different fields. I think it’s only vital not that I take you down the memory lane, and together we get to appreciate the role Chillstep Sunday’s played, in the promotion of urban arts, fashion and food in Gaborone. On the 30th September, just this past month, Chillstep Sunday’s celebrated youth in revolt.

The event was just a token of appreciation to all those young folks who made the platform it is, for the past four years. #Youthinrevolt celebrated the expressive and powerful voice behind Chillstep Sunday’s Mdu the Party, who has been with the platform since say one and continued to grow with the brand. Talk about trustworthiness and suppleness, this is a true definition of it, and I personally laud him for that. He is a rare breed… The Independence Day saw Chillstep Sunday’s celebrating local DJ’s and the event was dubbed Art on Decks. Youth in revolt also featured the freshest fashionista Macc Gee, founder of MaccGee jeans. He shutdown Game City Urban rooftop with his latest offerings, and TV and Radio presenter Lorato Orapeleng was there to witness this noble gesture. Also to note, was stylist Kgosi Rahil, as well as freelance M.U.A and blogger Tyra Molosi. 

In its spirit of celebrating women’s month, Chillstep Sunday’s celebrated sister’s in arts, a platform that was free to exhibit art portraits and stalls were for availed at no costs. Held on the first of September, the event saw Dolly the DJ turning it up and providing the most vibes on the 1s and 2s, its either you were there or be told. South African socialite and bubbly artist Moon Child Sanelly was expected to grace the event, but sadly, she did not! Instead, she twitted ‘’so sad to announce that I won’t be making it to the BwChilstep as we had a flat tire in Zeerust and we are safe. I really was looking forward to being back boobeams. I’m truly sorry. Silly! Anyway, local creative turned it up nonetheless. Digital content creator Fifi Mathambo, Founder of YanaTheMovement Yana, radio personality Khumo Kgwaadira and Masego Mohwasa were sisters in arts. 

If I recall very well, Chillstep Sunday’s was to launch an online TV station in October last year. The station dubbed Chillstep Live was to be available for viewing on its website, app and social media platforms. The brand was working closely with Media Republic, which was handling the production. ‘’this is a youth-oriented platform that will broadcast a variety of local and international content. At the moment we have a couple of productions that we have in-house. We are also looking forward to seeing young producers submitting their content to us’’ Drew said. We have no doubt that the TV station will soon be launched and they will deliver. Chadhall recently worked with the likes of Bonni Dintwa to bring us an online radio station dubbed ICE100. Well, I do not know if I missed the memo, but Chillstep Live never saw the light of the day, as for ICE100, it melted before we could quench our thirst, or maybe get rid of this heat! 

Chillstep Sunday’s is known to be spontaneous and heavy on the element of surprise, each mom=nth is themed and they often surprise people with hosting with hosting movement at an unexpected venue. So far, they have hosted many sessions at The Three Chiefs Monument Park, Zambezi Towers basement, however their home base was Stanbic Bank piazza located at the very artsy Molapo Crossing in the heart of Gaborone. Just few months back, Chillstep found accommodation at the busiest and fanciest malls in town, Game City. The day is much about young creative and tourists experiencing art and culture while serving their taste buds with scrumptious food and refreshments; and into the night is the after party where folks enjoy the captivating sounds of chill step music and sister genres; tropical, dubstep, electro dance, trap, pop and big room. 

Well, it is what it is…Chillstep Sunday’s is on its last days, but let’s just hope for the best. It has been a startling four years of fun, virtuous music, great ambience and growth of arts in the country. For that, I would say we are thankful and hope for the full return of Chillstep Sunday’s.

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WeekendLife

Vee, Charma Gal battle it out for fellow artistes

4th May 2021
Vee, Charma Gal

Odirile Sento, popularly known as Vee together with Magadeline Lesolobe (Charma Gal) took the liberty of playing as big of a part as they could to consolidate some resources for musicians which might be of assistance during these trying times.

In these unprecedented times of the overwhelming and the deadly COVID-19, it is only critical that people stand together and remain committed to helping each other, being kind enough to lend a helping hand in any way possible.

The contagious virus left people confounded, deprived and depressed. The pandemic shuttered many economies, industries and the entertainment sector was no exemption. If anything, the entertainment industry took the biggest hit of all the sectors but this was a hit felt in every country in the world not just a local tragedy.

There were tear-jerking testimonies of creatives, in particular artists, suffering from extreme hunger as events were given a rain check. Technically, social events have been shut for sixteen months now.

There were series of protests calling for the immediate opening of the creative sector, in a phased manner. Some brave yet unfortunate artists were arrested for taking up arms and protesting the strict COVID-19 regulations placed on the entertainment sector.

When protests failed and their laments falling on government’s usual deaf ears, prominent artists Odirile Sento, popularly known as Vee together with Magadeline Lesolobe (Charma Gal) took the liberty of playing as big of a part as they could to consolidate some resources for musicians which might be of assistance during these trying times.

COVID-19 has created untold challenges for musicians in Botswana, but there are possibilities- challenges have a way of breeding solutions nonetheless.

In an exclusive interview with WeekendLife on Wednesday, Vee said the Battle to Develop Artists Welfare is aimed at inspiring artists to learn diversification, which has been lacking for quite a stretch amongst fellow artists. A lot of local artists depend solely on music, which on its own has been performing below par, and COVID-19 has brought that into clear view, showing how most artists in Botswana live off scraps, barely making money off their beloved passion- music.

“This project was born out of compassion. The world as it is now is experiencing a rough patch, and you can imagine how other artists are coping. It is really a struggle, and we saw it critical to jump on-board and help our fellow colleagues. It will help artists start small businesses, some will start short courses which will enable them to find employment in the long run.

For it to have weight, we incorporated it into a challenge on stage, performing our songs. We hope this will inspire business moguls to sponsor and pledge some monies towards this initiative,” said Vee.

Charma gal indicated that the live battle on stage has been supported with musical instruments, further indicating that this is a volunteerism project with no proceeds to gain from.

“We will divide and disburse proceeds to our fellow artists, I mean these are people we have been working alongside for so many years. There is no how we can be reckless towards them when we see how hard the situation is.

We are in this together, and we are going to stick together like that. Some have started already doing something, and meeting them half way is only fundamental,” Charma Gal told WeekendLife.

The duo stressed that Gaborone North Member of Parliament, Mpho Balopi, has pledged P50 000 towards this battle, further calling on other businessmen to come to the party. Vee says Balopi supported the initiative from the get-go, brushing aside allegations that the project is politically influenced.

Initiatives brought forward to aid the entertainment sector have caused controversy, with Vee emphasizing that not all artists will benefit from this particular charity cause. “We have artists who are struggling, and sadly so. Some of them were bread winners and there is no income coming in, making it hard for them to cope with the economic challenges.

There has been an increase in VAT recently, and such developments make the situation worse. Rigorous assessments will be done to identify our desired beneficiaries.”

Vee and Charma Gal will be battling it out on stage with the battle scheduled to take place on the 28th May 2021. Because events are still striped, the show will be online with COVID-19 protocols to be adhered to.

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WeekendLife

BOMU, MYSC kiss and make up

27th April 2021
BOMU-VEE

Early December last year, scores of disgruntled artists congregated at GSS grounds seeking government to address their plight in the face of the COVID-19 restrictions.

2020 was a depraved year for the local entertainment industry. Music festivals, large gatherings and concerts were given a rain check as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of the deadly Corona-virus. As for an industry that depends solely on events for survival, the move to shelf gigs was literally kicking a dog when it’s down.

There was no revenue coming in, and depression found its way into the already devastated industry. Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, was fingered in this muddle. He was censured for being hushed. The relief fund also sparked controversy, with many creatives of the belief that it’s prejudiced and impractical.

Early December last year, scores of disgruntled artists congregated at GSS grounds seeking government to address their plight in the face of the COVID-19 restrictions. The situation became chaotic as police officers told the artists that the gathering is illegal and that they should get a permit first. Artists decided to go the right way, applying for a permit to hold their meeting, and this time around in Old Naledi.

Creatives (most of which are BOMU members) came out swinging as they packed Old Naledi grounds in a show of strength against the COVID-19 Task team and politicians. But gathering a large crowd at the Old Naledi grounds was like playing a game of Russian roulette, as most of the attendees were potentially exposed to the Corona virus because there was no social distancing, wearing of masks, nor sanitization.

Artists however were clearly making their voices heard – they wanted their industry opened, but by the look of things the Task Force team will have to pull a rabbit out of the hat for this to be given the greenlight before another year comes to pass. Till date, the creative industry is still abandoned.

Following a series of protests, the custodian Ministry (MYSC) came up with virtual gigs and engaged artists for performances. However, this fuelled tension between upcoming artists and those who are already household names. In late December 2020, a group of young artists demanded answers from the Youth Ministry on how the so called ‘Big Artists’ secured virtual gigs from the Ministry.

A new BOMU Executive Committee was ushered in August last year which saw the Union and the custodian Ministry smoke a peace pipe. Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) is an organization that works as an intermediary between registered artists and the Youth Ministry.

On Friday (16th April 2021) at a press conference to launch the 10th BOMU music awards, BOMU President Phemelo ‘Fresh’ Lesokwane said the Union has effectively managed to rebuild and earn back trust with its stakeholders, including MYSC and De Beers.

“These two entities have been BOMU music awards’ top sponsors for the past 10 years. We have managed to revive the awards and appoint a person who I will refer to as a brand marketing specialist. There has been a lot of miscommunication peddled around and as a leader of BOMU, I will be irresponsible to ignore all of it,” Fresh said.

Fresh is definitely not MYSC nor Minister of Rakgare’s spokesperson, but he had this to say: “It is very important I clear up the distortion of facts out there. MYSC and BOMU leadership have been hard at work, and in the previous year, we managed to push 90% of our members to register with COSBOTS so as to benefit from the subsidy. For the matter of fact, this did happen.

BOMU says it managed to convince MYSC to fund their 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM). “The Ministry accommodated, paid all costs of accommodation and food for all the delegates who attended the AGM. This was a first for BOMU for as long as anyone can remember. I was so happy to see Minister Rakgare attending our AGM, which was for the first time also.”

Rakgare and his associates have been given a pat on the back for the national consultative meetings they took last year. They met with industry representatives and discussed calendar of events and how they should be rolled out. BOMU also pleaded with the Youth Ministry not to cancel events this year, and according to Fresh, the Ministry agreed.

“This is why they are helping with BOMU music awards and in due course, we will be calling the media to reveal the sponsorship. And on top of that, BOMU has access to the Minister and his circle of associates. They have their doors open for us, and we can’t be fighting with the Ministry while we see how welcoming it is to us. Lot of noise is made by non-BOMU members, which should be condemned in any way possible.

The Youth Ministry however, says it will engage on consultations with organizations, not individuals. This is why it is very important for artists to join BOMU now.”

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WeekendLife

Feminism and Nudity still at odds

19th April 2021
Feminism and Nudity

This past week seemed like a time travel back to the early 1970’s where women were judged and stoned for what they wear, what they should wear, and whose attention their dress code will grab.

Every Tom, Dick and Harry gave their two cents on the matter, unnecessarily so. Its disheartening that in 2021 a woman is dictated to about what she should wear.

The genesis of the whole saga was because of a certified life coach and personal trainer, Agang Atlholang, derided as an example of an anti-feminist.

Atlholang updated a controversial post on her Facebook page where she seemingly attacked and dragged some women for wearing appealing clothes that leave little to the imagination.

The personal coach further went on to highlight that she could be fully clothed and be able to attract and steal some of these women’s lovers. Audacious of her to assume but more disheartening that her wardrobe is subliminally dictated by men.

It should be noted that this wasn’t her first controversial post where she has threatened or promised to take other women’s men, it may not be her last either but this post however did get on a lot of women’s last nerve.

“A woman’s sexuality is so much more than her thighs, (beep) and breasts. It’s your aura, confidence, seduction and the way you carry yourself, watching everything rock and roll in silence. I know who I am, I am a boss lady. I can still get your man without showing skin,” said Atlholang.

It is hard to place the fitness coach, is she pro-feminism or anti-feminism? Because one minute she would say something that makes sense and that almost everyone can relate to and other times she barks threats like a toothless bulldog.

She was not wrong to publicly and indirectly affirm that she doesn’t wear revealing outfits, but for her to be coming at those who do so was entirely out of line. How a woman presents herself to the world has a very little to do with a man’s preference.

Any personal liberation of what one chooses to clothe their own body is clouded by the misogynistic backdrop of the world we live in. In all cases, a woman’s body is assumed to be someone else’s before is it her own.

If she takes off her clothes, it is seen to be a sign of her insecurity and need for validation, rather than feeling comfortable with herself. Once she’s stripped, that’s all she is. This is the insidious pressures of misogyny that we all have a duty to attack and put in the past where it belongs.

WeekendLife reached out to Atlholang but her phone went unanswered. She did not respond to a questionnaire sent to her on Wednesday.
Celebrated feminist Resego Kgosidintsi says there should be no expectations on what a woman does with her body. Some women are thick and curvy, while some are slim and petite, all body types are beautiful.

Kgosidintsi uploaded two pictures on her Facebook page in which she compared herself. In one picture she was only in a bikini on the beach whereas in the other picture she was wearing formal attire. She went on to say;

“I am the woman in both pictures, my worth did not decrease on picture 2 because I revealed almost all of my skin and neither is my worth on a 100 on picture 1 because my skirt is below the knee.

I have about 7 tattoos on my entire body and that still does not make me less of a woman. I drink and smoke cigarettes too and that doesn’t mean the woman in church who doesn’t smoke or drink more woman than me. Can we respect people’s choices, can we respect women.”
Feminist, media personality and socialite, Oratile Kefitlhile shares the same sentiments as Kgosidintsi.

‘‘Feminism is subject, if I feel as a woman that when I’m fully dressed I’m celebrating my femininity, so be it. If another woman feels they are embracing their femininity more with their thighs out, that’s perfectly fine still. Let them be.

We have been preaching this revolution for a very long time of women being allowed to wear what they want, and being allowed to embrace their womanhood in the way that speaks to them, so I feel at this point we should not be having these debates,” Kefitlhile told WeekendLife on Tuesday.

Controversial poet, artist and businesswoman, Berry Heart is of the belief that women are envious towards each other. She argues that celebrating femininity has no boundaries subsequently making no one woman superior.

Quizzed on what makes women fight over small issues such as what they wear, she says “Batswana women are broken so much that we don’t want to see another woman succeeding on anything. We desire to make them dejected.”

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