Itumeleng Motswetla grew up in Old Naledi, an area that has been considered notorious and with diverse lifestyles for the past years, something of an experience that has marked her as an artist.
Her work points to her concern with modernity’s life and cultural expressions. Her works can be recognized by her signature expressionistic style, figures with large heads and abstract paintings of faces. She is the most prominent young modern artist, currently dominating the contemporary art scene in the country. Her company Arts with Itu is famously known for turning banal objects into fine arts by utilizing concepts like commerce. In doing so, she holds up a mirror to society and reveals it in all its grotesque contradictions.
Her fascination with these subjects is also reflected in the commercial materials she uses. Whether you hate or love her, she succeeded in taking the art world by storm and securing a permanent spot for herself as one of the youngest most popular artists in the country. In an interview with WeekendLife, she said her abstract paintings of faces and bodies, she plays with human form, saying her paintings are graced with absurd, cut-up, often carnivalesque characters. In her own words, she is doing this for people, she gives them what they want. ‘’People want pictures, and I am definitely going to give them pictures’’ she said
A 20-year-old initially from Palapye noted that she started art as a profession in 2018, and has since capitalized on it as a source of living, and making ends meet. She said she works with anything she can draw creativity from, ranging from African print, crocheting or threads even. Born without a silver spoon, she drew an inspiration from her single parent, the mother. ‘’My mother raised me single handily, it was not an easy task.
As strong as she is, she made it a point that I have all that I needed. She took me to school, and basically provided all basic needed I needed for survival. In executing all of these things, it was not easy as someone may presume, she worked hard and inspired me to do the same. I grew to appreciate her and aspired to be exactly like her. She nurtured my talent and made me the artist I am today,’’ she said.
‘’Most of my art works express that. I am all about women empowerment, and I’m always open to collaborate and support other young women. I strive to break stereotypes associated with women, and prove to the world that women can achieve what they have been restricted to do because of cultural beliefs and norms in the past. A woman is capable of doing anything and succeed in it, women are determined and I have lived to witness that from my mother.’’
She stressed that her intimate, on-location approach and sensitivity to her subjects are what make her contemporary paintings style so moving and powerful when compared to works by other artists. She uses brushworks, rich colors and precise forms to create extremely realistic pictures, and has incorporated cropped framing, an unusual use of perspective, and the use of colors to strengthen emotion.
‘’I transform our expectations of what is real and what is not. When someone describes something as ‘’surreal’’, the chances are good that an image by me pops into his or her head. My works is all about twisted curves rooted in the ideas of symbolic art and is constantly concentrated on the beguiling satisfaction of color and tone.’’
However, as a young female artist, she is clouded by lot of challenges. ‘’I am being looked down on for being a female artist in such a male dominated industry. I’m often told I am just wasting time and I should be doing something which is of great significance to me, but with the passion I have for art I do not see myself ceasing doing what I love for something else. Art is actually what is important to me and I won’t trade it for anything else,’’ she confidently explained.
Further, she said at times she misses opportunities and face rejection probably because of gender and lot of people sidelining her and undermining her capabilities. ‘’I am capable of producing great quality art, it is only that people are too quick to judge and have their own assumptions. I challenge them to try me, I am willing to show them fine art they have never seen before. If we can only do away with condemning before we see the actual product, I have that assurance that we can develop the art industry in Botswana.’’
Remaining relevant and consistent has earned Itumeleng trust from her customers. She stressed that she makes it a point to produce master pieces after another. ‘’I make sure that my next art work is better than the previous one. I invest a lot of resources and effort into my art, it is a craft I ought to take seriously as it put food on my table. That way, when selling to people they are able to realize the true value of an art. And if that is the case, selling my artworks becomes easy, hence being able to penetrate the market,’’ she highlighted.
She passed gratitude to local art galleries that have put efforts together to support the local art industry, saying that the annual art competitions are helpful in improving one’s creativity and they gain recognition. ‘’These competitions afford us an opportunity to showcase our artworks. People from different countries buy out crafts, they get to appreciate what we do and as it builds confidence in us to keep doing more. The support I receive from Batswana has always been amazing, and it’s really appreciated.
Even though some do not understand this kind of art, hopefully in the long run they will get to see it beyond just a painting and it will be possible for artists to make a living out of art with ease. Itumeleng said collaboration with other artists is imperative in the development of the industry. She said she is willing to assist female artists mostly as she aspires to see them succeed out of artistry.
‘’With unemployment being high most particularly amongst youth, I believe we can make a living out of arts. It is time we live from what we can do with our hands. The arts have the ability to transform our lives, and without relying on government alone to create employment, we can efficiently do so,’’ she concluded.
After its initial outbreak with a cluster of pneumonia cases at a seafood, poultry and live wildlife market in Wuhan City, China, Covid-19 has spread rapidly across the globe. The virus has hammered economies worldwide and brought devastation to many.
On 16 September Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a church with thousands of members in various countries, held a global online prayer service to pray for the victims of the coronavirus and their families, healthcare workers, government officials and for the complete eradication of and cure for Covid-19.
The virtual prayer service was live-streamed to the entire congregation with more than 200,000 members in countries all over the world participating, including the USA, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
In keeping with social distancing, health protocols and protecting its members from possible exposure to the coronavirus, Shincheonji arranged the virtual gathering for members to pray together in safety and set an example for others.
Prayers were mainly for the healing of those infected with the virus, for overworked healthcare workers who are struggling to fight Covid-19, and for people in economic distress in the wake of the pandemic. The overwhelming online participation from its members worldwide showed the desire and urgency to end this virus and for healing and restoration in communities.
The Chairman of Shincheonji Church Mr Manhee Lee suggested this online virtual gathering and said that all believers will continue to pray at the church’s worship services until the complete eradication of the coronavirus.
At least 1,700 of the church’s South Korean-based congregation have donated their blood plasma for research around an effective treatment. Convalescent plasma has also showed promise as therapy for Covid-19 and is believed to have reduced the severity of symptoms in critical patients.
“In order to defeat Covid-19, we need to embrace, love, and unite,” as global citizens, the church said. “We wanted to do all we can as believers by praying for the people working to prevent the spread of the virus and healthcare workers who are working at the frontlines of this battle against Covid-19 and we believe that God will answer our earnest prayers.”
The annual prestigious music awards, African Muzik Magazine Awards and Music Festival (AFRIMMA), has resumed this year. But this time around with a virtual version of it.
The awards that celebrate the originality of African music has unveiled their seventh edition. The awards seek to promote the African talent by bringing together on the same stage African legendary artists to celebrate African culture.
The event was established by the International Committee of AFRIMMA, in collaboration with African Union to reward and celebrate musical works, talents and creativity around the African continent while promoting the African cultural heritage amongst African countries.
However after the Covid-19 global pandemic, the event will not be hosted on a live global stage, but it will be hosted virtually and nominees are expected to deliver their performances virtually. The AFRIMMA Virtual Awards 2020 is set to be the first of its kind in the African music world with performances coming from different artists around the world and audience catching the performances, speeches and award presentations on multiple streaming devices.
Amongst the many who are nominated by the AFRIMMAs is local sensation Vee Mampeezy who has been nominated in the category for Best Male Southern African alongside music giants, Black Coffee- South Africa, Slap Dee – Zambia, Cassper Nyovest- South Africa, Master KG- South Africa, Jah Prayzah – Zimbabwe, Vee Mampeezy – Botswana, Shyn – Madagascar, Tshego- South Africa, Tha Dogg – Namibia and Yanga Chief – South Africa.
Mampeezy has established with WeekendLife that prior to that, he had received an email from AFRIMMA confirming his nomination. They wished for him to perform which he said he will confirm the performance first with his manager, but as for now he is not sure if he will be performing.
“We have accepted the nomination. It is such an honour to be nominated alongside music giants like Black Coffee. I am very excited, others I am not as excited to be nominated alongside them because I have been nominated before with them. I do not mean to say they are not great, they are great in their respective right,” he said.
“We should be excited as a country that Botswana has been nominated as well. Before anything else, the fact that we are there as nominees makes us winners. It is such an honour to be recognised more so that Botswana is a small country with a very small population.”
Famous and most decorated artists the likes of Diamond Platnumz, Mr Flavour, Harmonize, Davido and Jah Prayzah are also amongst the nominees. However, South African based artist affectionately known as Master KG has been nominated six times for Video of the year, Best Male Southern Africa, Artist of the year, Best Collaboration as well as song of the year.
Master KG’s song ‘Jerusalem’ has been making waves internationally, and it was used mostly during the pandemic to shake off the Covid-19 anxiety. The song was nominated after South African Music Awards (SAMA) failed to nominate the young talented artist.
The Queen does this through school tours, tree planting activities, street campaigns, coastal clean ups, speaking engagements, shopping mall tours, media guesting, environmental fairs, storytelling programs to children, eco-fashion shows, and other environmental activities.
Even though this auspicious year has been faulted by the COVID-19 crisis, Miss Earth Botswana 2020 Seneo Perry has seen this as a chance to fix her crown, and get dirty in conserving the environment. This is highly impressive as it expresses how dedicated she is not only in wearing the crown, but putting in some work to create a better greener world.
Perry is a Botswana based environmentalist, equipped with a degree in Entrepreneurial Business Leadership from Sheffield Hallam University (BAC) and a top 5 finalist in Miss Earth Botswana 2019. As an eco-warrior at heart, she has dedicated her time and energy towards educating and empowering the next generation on the importance of preservation and careful management of the environment and natural resources (a clean and safe environment.)
Miss Earth Botswana will be hosting SOS Children for a film documentary dubbed “Into the Okavango” on Saturday 19th September, in Tlokweng. This initiative is influenced by National Vision 2036 Pillar of National Values which is our identity, our unique natural and cultural resources, tolerance of diversity as well as national values constitute a value preposition that makes Botswana a place to live, work and do business.
In an exclusive interview with WeekendLife, Perry’s Manager, Shimah Keakopa, said the purpose of this event is to encourage the children to open up their minds a bit more to think outside the box as they are about to choose their career paths and what more they can offer to their country as upcoming young leaders.
“This event is held under the theme ‘‘Botswana will have healthy ecosystems that support the economy, livelihoods and our cultural heritage as well as enhance resilience to climate change’’. We strive to help young children grow up knowing their purpose in life and what they actually do in achieving their ambitions.”
For her part, the queen said since 2013, conservation topics have always attracted her interests towards achieving a clean and safe environment for the benefit of humanity. She said “Botswana relies heavily on the tourism industry as it contributes 7 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Our tourism industry has been characterized as more of a fauna and flora type, which is the great attraction to local and international tourists.”
“Therefore it is imperative that we conserve and continuously engage in environmental issues, to preserve our untouchable pristine wilderness. Furthermore people who live closest to natural resources generally absorb the greatest cost associated with conservation,” she said.
Perry told WeekendLife that a lot still needs to be done to ensure everybody is of one mind in an effort dedicated towards environmental conservation, which not only benefits the flora and fauna but the economy as well through activities such as agriculture and tourism.
“In Botswana, there still not enough policies (some outdated) and public awareness towards environmental conservation, especially the collective effort that should exist between government, private sector and Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
Whereas members of the general public do not have adequate access to the information on the importance of environmental conservation and this results in them being unaware of the best practices and standards in environmental conservation,” she said.
When she is not impressing at beauty pageants, Perry is a Managing Director of “Restoring the Prime Colour of the Earth” a charitable organization established in 2019 with the objective to educate both young and old people the importance of keeping a clean and safe environment and to restore the breath-taking landmarks in Botswana.