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The return of the hilarious ‘Makau’

In the recent years, right into early 2016, Makau is one of those Afro-pop groups that took the music industry by storm. They rose to fame following their hilarious yet elegant apparel that is more like vintage, with a touch of elegance and stylishness in it. You could tell from a distance that; indeed, this trio mean business.

Not only that, Makau, translated classic men, have this component of silliness adjudicating from their hysterical music videos, in particular, their all-time hit Sebintjolo, that took their fans for a ride. However, the group has been on a breakdown for quite a long stretch, leaving its admirers speculating if they will ever make a great turn back into the ever problematical and contentious music industry, that is clouded by mediocre, pigeonholes and manipulation. Indeed, Makau is back, this time around by popular demand. Many wished for Makau to return, set aside their differences and produce good music like they used to, and indeed their wishes have been heard. The group is back with a bang! WeekendLife reporter TLHABO KGOSIEMANG caught up with one of the group’s members Bakang Mphele in an exclusive interview this week in Gaborone, to get to appreciate the group, where they have been and their way forward, what they essentially have to bid their supporters after vanishing for a while.

Makau comprises of three young lads, namely Bakang Mphele, Tiro Thebe and Resego Magetse, who played the character of Sebintjolo. Bakang revealed that he and Tiro were colleagues, and upon realizing that they share to some degree a certain thing in common, which in this case is having a funny character, they had to start something to complement their creepy charm. ‘’We used to dance a lot at school during talent shows, lunch breaks and even after school. We would share yarns, tease each other and giggle about it. It was such a great thing to do as it brought contentment and helped advance that connection amongst us. We became the best friends ever, and I then familiarized him to my favorite cousin, Resego who is affectionately known as Sebintjolo. That is when we gave birth to Makau, we nurtured it up to today.’’

As passionate as they were with music, the trio started off as Kwaito artists, but were not fortunate enough as the genre did not bear any fruits. Subsequently, the group decided on changing their type of music, they thought of something exclusive, or probably something that never existed in the country, and they thrived in that regard. Makau as a group was born from how they chose to dress. Throughout the years, the music industry has been an eye opener. Bakang said as an individual, and together as a group they learnt few things he feels applies to any other artist. ‘’Fame is something we leant can happen to you even if you were not hoping for it, and if you not prepared for it, it will somehow affect how you do things. Fame can make or break you. I would say we were still young the time we blew; we did not know what was up-to-the-minute. Taking one step at go reliefs a lot, because if you don’t, you won’t last for a long time in the industry. We lived to witness that. Lot of great artist failed at the first try, not that they were not good at it, but because they lost focus, and lacked guidance.’’

Their first album that featured the hit song Sebintjolo took the country by storm, topping radio charts and getting all the credits across all radio stations, from one show to another. The young and the old were equally impressed with the masterpiece, and the funny video added cherry on top. In that regard, the group rose to fame, benefitting from bookings, week in week out. ‘’I remember we would be booked every time, we were super excited for that an opportunity, compliments kept coming in and great artists recognizing us, corporates had us under their belts, showering us with bookings and it was amazing. I must say life was good, because we didn’t expect to blow the way we did’’ Bakang said. One may wonder how Makau managed to remain relevant as many groups do not last for a long time, not only in Botswana, but the entire universe. Bakang noted that being disciplined has always been their strength. ‘’For us to be in the game for the longest time, we realized that we needed to be disciplined. Respecting one another had to be a priority and we capitalized on that. Working as a group is not easy but it is when there is respect. We have different opinions and the way we see things, but at the end of the day we have to settle for one thing, one goal’’
He indicated that they had to stay loyal to their style of dress as it was their identity. ‘’It’s actually what makes people love us.

We have that unique dress sense that kept people glued to us and for us to earn and retain their trust, we have to keep it flowing like that. If you not consistent, your followers would not take you serious, and they will definitely find someone to follow. The way we dress had more people following us, and we ought to keep that, he added. However, Makau has been trying to get back on track, hoping to see where they lost the map. They were not fornuate enough, as songs they composed did not do well in the market. They did not give up nonetheless. The trio made a great come back with their new hit ‘’Boferefere’’ where they featured the biggest and most paid artist in the country Vee. It is produced by Dr Tawanda, and basically spreads a message about child abuse. Not only that Makau’s songs are about stupidity and funny characters, they convey important messages to the public.

‘’This song was inspired by First Lady’s commitment to the girl child. She is keen in spreading a word about the protection of a girl child from any form of abuse. We jumped in to say let’s stop sexual abuse, emotional abuse of children and together we should join forces in supporting them. We must commit to every individual realizing and enjoying their rights and choices’’ Currently, Makau is working on an album dubbed ‘’Classic Jive’’ anticipated to be launched very soon, sometime this month. They are currently shooting a video and will soon be gracing our screens. We hope this a killer one, and will definitely have the group top charts again. Bakang stressed that they also have festivals lined up prior to Independence holidays. It is what it is, we wish them well. This game is a dirty one, we need to see them drastically increasing in the demand for their live performances and gracing some of the high profile events.
 

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WeekendLife

The King’s journal 

23rd November 2021
Kgafela Kgafela II

This book is a true-life story of an African King based in South Africa. The Last Frontier is a resistance stand by Bakgatla Ba Kgafela tribe and its line of Kings from 1885 against a dark force called ‘western democracy’ that is insidiously destroying lives, peoples, nations and threatens to wipe away whole civilizations in Africa.

The story flows through four important episodes of history, beginning in about 1885 when Bechuanaland Protectorate was formed. This section briefly reveals interactions between Kgosi Linchwe 1 and the British Colonial Government, leading to the establishment of Bakgatla Reserve by Proclamations of 1899 – 1904.

The second episode deals with Kgosi Molefi’s interaction with the British Colonial Government in the period of 1929-36. The third episode records Kgosi Linchwe II’s interactions with the British Colonial Government and black elites of Bechuanaland. It covers the period of 1964-66, leading to Botswana’s independence. Kgosi Linchwe ii resisted the unlawful expropriation of his country (Bakgatla Reserve) by Sir Seretse Kgama’s government of 1966 to no avail. He wrote letters of objection (December 1965) to Her Majesty the Queen of England, which are reproduced in this book.

The fourth episode covers the period between Kgafela Kgafela II’s crowning as King of Bakgatla in 2008 to 2021. It is a drama of the author’s resistance to the present-day Botswana Government, a continuation of Bakgatla Kings’ objection against losing Bakgatla country to the Kgama dynasty assisted by the British Government since 1885. The story is told with reference to authentic letters, documents, and Court records generated during the period of 1885-2019. There is plenty of education in history, law, and politics contained in The Last Frontier for everyone to learn something and enjoy.   

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WeekendLife

Gospel concerts make a comeback

16th November 2021
Bishop Benjamin Dube

Hailed for being the prime gospel concert after the Covid-19 pandemic had put events to a halt, Golden Relic, in conjunction with Sweet Brands, recently unveiled the Arise and Worship Concert, Botswana. The show marks the return of worshippers and fans to enjoy music and worship together after what seemed like “cooler box” events were taking over the entertainment scene. 

The concert to be held on December 11th 2021, at the Molapo Showcase, has a packed lineup with the Headlining acts being Bishop Benjamin Dube, Lebo Sekgobela from South Africa and Botswana’s very own Obakeng Sengwaketse. More international acts from Nigeria and Ghana are also expected to grace the event. The show organizers have invested an effort in diversifying the lineup with live performances. 

The promoter of the Arise and Worship Concert, David “DVD” Abram revealed in an overview of the event that; “We have lost a lot of loved ones this year, and when that happens, one’s spirit goes down, and we need a light to ground us once more, to heal our souls. Therefore, the two main purposes of this event are to do the work of God and, secondly, to make sure that we nurture and develop talent in Botswana. With challenges that come up with events of such magnitude, the team and I have been committed to seeking guidance from God through having night prayers.” 

Abram added that as promoters, they usually have a bias towards already established artists, thus neglecting the upcoming ones and wanting to change that. “We approached the Melody Gospel TV Show since we aim at nurturing new talent and agreed on having one of the winners as a headliner for the event to allow them to share the stage with gospel giants so that they are exposed to the industry. This resulted in securing the Second Winner of the Melody Gospel TV show; Thabiso Mafoko as a local headlining act.”

The concert also aims at celebrating a Motswana. Multi-Award Winner; with the most recent title; BOMU Best Traditional Gospel under his belt, also best known for his soulful voice and heartfelt lyrics, Obakeng Sengwaketse enthusiastically said, “I want to thank the organizers of the Arise and Worship concert, it means a lot to me after recently winning two awards that are currently the highlight of my career.

I regard this as a great revival because the Covid-19 pandemic has muffled events such as this. I am looking forward to sharing the stage with the great Bishop Benjamin Dube, Lebo Sekgobela and more artists from Nigeria and Ghana. Sengwaketsi urged Batswana to come and witness the greatness of the Lord as their lives will never be the same.”

Tickets are selling like fat cakes with VVIP tickets having only five tickets remaining; the VVIP tickets include rounder access backstage to all the performing artists. The event will also comprise a seated Gold Circle Ticket, which accounts for 50% of revellers to allow for easier enforcement of COVID-19 protocols and avoid a potential stampede.

In a bid to entice merrymakers to buy tickets, the promoters have come up with a layby strategy and buying tickets on an instalment basis for the attendees to be able to buy their tickets since the COVID-19 Pandemic has left many Batswana in financial ruin but having the interest to attend the event.

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WeekendLife

Fame vs Mental health

9th November 2021
Lizibo

One can only imagine what is like being in the public eye. It is not a walk in the park; and not as easy as people might think it is because of the pressure from the public. Celebrities or influencers are perceived to be perfect, perfect bodies, perfect families, perfect parents, financially stable, healthy, and always smiling and patient with everyone – Is this for real?

However, when people’s expectations of celebrities are not met, the same celebrities are often victimized, body shamed, or blamed, fairly or unfairly. As a result of them not having a personal life, they are often scrutinized in all aspects of their lives; their lives are aired for the public to see and judge. Celebrities are often extra careful about everything that they do, they have to go an extra mile as compared to how ordinary people live their lives.

To understanding this experiences by public figures, this reporter made a case study of Mr Lizibo Gran Mabutho, the firstborn in his family with only one sibling, his younger brother. Lizibo describes himself as a simple Kalanga guy who was chosen by music and did not choose music.

He said being raised by his mother and grandmother, he grew up surrounded by music from birth. Lizibo said his grandmother was a religious person who held church services at their house in Zwenshambe, “for me singing was from Monday to Sunday. I was not like any ordinary child who only sang at church on Sundays or sometimes in school assembly, for me it was a daily thing. My mother was also a talented dancer in our village that is what I mean when I say I did not choose music, but music chose me.”

Lizibo said though he grew up surrounded by music, it was hard for his parents to accept the path he has chosen to be a musician. Lizibo said he had to prove to his parents that music was his passion and that it could pay the bills like any other profession. He said eventually they saw his passion for music and supported him.

Lizibo said being exposed to music from a tender age made him venture into the music career from a tender age. He said he was part of the Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete (KTM) choir, Lizibo said being in the public eye for the longest time has taught him that he is living for the people and that he does not have a life. He said the very society that is watching him has so much expectation for him and that means he has to conduct himself in a good manner because people are looking up to him.

Lizibo said he understands the saying that great power comes with great responsibility, “when people see me, they see a role model. I realize and understand that people are and have been modelling me even when I was not aware of it, I know of six mothers who have named their sons after me because they felt that I inspire them somehow.”

He said he has accepted his fate that he will never have a normal life because people are looking unto him. He said he is grateful to be in the public on a positive note by bringing hope to the people because he has always wanted to be part of people’s solutions and not their problems.

He said, “people should understand that our careers are our calling. One needs to be spiritually connected to their calling as an artist. The most rewarding part about being in the public for me is not about payment but about being the solution to someone’s problem.”

Lizibo said the greatest challenge that he has ever faced about being in the public eye has been the issue of trust, not able to know which friends are genuine and which ones are not. He said as a way of avoiding fake friends he has always kept his four close friends who have been there for him through thick and thin. Lizibo said being close to his family has also helped him as they have been his strength when things were not going well for him, “most of the time people say we change when we taste fame. That is not necessarily true because people are the ones who changed when we became famous. People always want something from us, nothing is ever genuine with people and that is why I chose to keep my circle very small.”

Lizibo said as much as he travels a lot because of the nature of his work because it is naturally demanding, he said he always ensures that he creates time for his family. He said that at home he is Lizibo who is sent to do errands, he is Lizibo the son, not a celebrity.

He said there is a lot of pressure that comes with being in the spotlight, “the public puts so much pressure on us mostly about the material lifestyle they portray us to have. We are often compared with South African celebrities, but people fail to understand that we are two different countries. Most people fell into the trap and are living above their means resulting in them living in debt. I often tell youngsters not to fall into that trap of being tempted to live life above their means.”

The advice Lizibo gave to upcoming celebrities was that they should know that being in the public is not about them, but it is about the people. He said, “one of my mentors once asked me if I make music about myself or the people. He said I need to make music for the people because it is my responsibility to feed them with what they need, he said they might not even be able to know that they have a need but that I need to identify that need and meet it. Our responsibility is to serve people what they need, our music is to feed people’s hunger. My music is about love, I feed people love.”

Lizibo said it is important for celebrities to seek counselling and take care of their mental health, he said he has been investing in his mental health for years because he understands the importance of mental health especially when one is in the public.

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