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People want pictures

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.

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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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WeekendLife

The art of mastering instrumentals

12th April 2021
Kagiso "Fella" Kenosi

You will know a tree by its fruits, the same way you will know a music producer by their works.

Top music producers in the country have set themselves apart through the quality music they produce and reap the results of international recognition from as far as the United States of America.

These producers are behind every star performer, listening and analyzing each and every note. When artists perform a vocal swell, rising to an octave that sounds like it’s going to shatter voice box, it’s easy to forget that someone was on the other side of the glass asking questions like, “Can you hit that note every night, or will it hurt too badly? Maybe we should lower the octave to save your voice?”

Producers make hundreds of decisions in each song, not to mention the push and pull relationships they have with talented performers.These relationships can make or break careers. Some of your favorite bands and artists wouldn’t be so memorable without a great producer helping to guide their distinct voices.

Kagiso Kenosi, or better known as Fella in the entertainment industry, is only 31-years old but he has already left his imprint in the music industry. The young chap, originally from Palapye, is not in the industry to add numbers, but to do his magic working behind the scenes producing hit song after hit song.

When most producers went to school to produce the hits that we hear today, Fella’s foundation and passion for producing came from being active in church.

“I grew up in a catholic orientated family where music is the essence of our religion. The love for music in its entirety emerged from enjoying singing at church and blossomed over the years as I grew up, being exposed to the internet and software’s such as fruity loops.”

Fella says he then learnt how to make beats and proceeded with vocal processing so besides the love for music, he had an amazing group of people who helped him reach his life dream; being the best in music production. The sky was the limit for Fella.

Unfortunately for so many music producers locally, this kind of hustle is basically about being famous. Some of them bite off more than they can chew just for a quick buck that doesn’t even go a long away for them. At the end of it all, these fly by night prima-donnas end up cutting corners and producing subpar records which eventually leads to a premature death for their careers.

Fella’s advice is that fellow colleagues should be patient and continue learning the craft, even if it means taking online tutorials. “Even though I’m still learning too, for I believe music is a fast infinite universe where no one can never say they know it all, I think believing in what one does, the level of creativity and being able to stand alone can do magic.

We living in an era where people go through a lot, so it is imperative for a music producer to be able to relate to those kind of situations. This takes only the right instrumentals, which will compliment emotions of an artist.”

The most asked question outside the music industry is; who chooses the instruments for a song, is it the artist or the producer? Fella gave his take;

“I make instrumentals and keep them until an artist comes to work on a song. That’s when I advise on whether I think the concept they chose goes hand in hand with the instrumentals. We will then look for a more appropriate song.

In some cases, artists can come and we record vocals without an instrumental and then get to make a beat on top of the recorded vocal which in that case guides me to make a relevant instrumental,” he said in an exclusive interview with WeekendLife on Wednesday.

Digging more into finding the difference between a producer and an engineer, Fella clarified that there is not much difference. There is actually a thin line between the two even though an engineer does more than a producer when dishing out a song.

“We use the word production to credit people who only make beats. Engineers are people who record vocals, clean them, do the mixing and master the song preparing the record for radio. I must say an engineer, does the critical components of a song.”

As young as he is, Fella has been through thick and thin with young artists. It has been a roller-coaster of emotions, because, frankly some of these fledging artists are way too complicated to work with. Fella admits that he too has flaws but c’est la vie, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

“It’s always a blessing and quite exciting because these different people of different energies and mind-sets and creativity will humble you. It’s a chastening experience and also accords me with experience to manoeuvre and adjust to people with different characters.

So truly, it has helped me grow as a person, and a producer.”

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WeekendLife

BOMU spruce up dirty laundry

30th March 2021
BOMU awards

Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) is known for its bad reputation that has been getting worse over the years. There has been a lot of chinwag, squabbles and the organization literally lost touch. It has gotten so bad that stakeholders pulled out, and members were left with no choice but to face the music alone.

Just when you’d think the waters are calm, the new Executive Committee awarded a fledgling company, Total Music Group, to handle the 2021 music awards. This move was seen as a biased decision that got BOMU members bent out of shape.

However, BOMU Secretary General, Rasina Rasina told Weekendlife that the Executive Committee that it has many irons in the fire. He indeed admitted without reluctance that, BOMU has been clouded by hubbub.

“We pledged when the new administration took over that it would begin with cleaning our own house. We have built structures as we had promised and we are glad that they are fully functional. One of those is the disciplinary committee.”

“BOMU has for a long time appeared to be lacking discipline and proper laid down procedures. This has led to the organization losing out big in its endeavour to serve its members and the entire music fraternity. The National Executive Committee, chapter committees and sub-committees have committed to ensuring that non proper governance and accountability shall take centre stage and this is all that is happening,” Rasina told Weekendlife on Tuesday.

Rebuilding and rebranding a disintegrated intuition such as BOMU is not just a walk in the park, it needs concerted efforts and team work to actually reach that goal. A stitch in time saves nine, but as for BOMU, the entire union failed to address its dares a long time ago, but the union says everything is on track in recuperating public trust and fixing the mess created then.

BOMU Research and Policy Committee is hard finalizing a new code of conduct which will contribute significantly to how members and leadership conduct themselves and relate with each other for the furtherance of BOMU’s mandate, Weekendlife has been reliably informed.

“We are doing everything according to our constitution, logic and reason. We advise our members that they should point out where the constitution has been breached and that they are at liberty to follow due process and report any misconduct to the disciplinary committee,” said Rasina.

This is following the suspension of some executive committee members and BOMU subscribed members for questioning the integrity in awarding the music awards tender. Some members, told Weekendlife that they will seek legal advice on the matter.

“We do have members who have already appeared before the disciplinary committee on various charges and decisions are yet to be taken. We also have members who are yet to appear before the committee for various complaints levelled against them. Current suspensions are related to various complaints and offences.”

With regard to appointing Total Music Group, BOMU National Executive Committee says it used Article 9.3.19 of its constitution. The article says; “The National Executive Committee of BOMU shall have the authority to enter into legally binding contracts on behalf of the Union.’’

Rasina says the leadership needed a company to manage, host and sell the BOMU awards for five years consecutively so as to attain stability and refurbish the brand image of both the music awards and the organization. “Without any money at our disposal, we debated on the best model and agreed that we should engage a company that also has the capacity to mobilize resources. We used our discretion and decided on a direct appointment model which is perfectly legal and constitutional.”

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