For so many years, photography has been seen as a form of an art meant to create memories. It was regarded as an art form that takes skills, artistic ability and an understanding of technology.
Well, unlike any other visual image, a photograph is not a rendering, an imitation or an interpretation of its subject, but actually a trace of it. No painting or drawing, however naturalist, belongs to its subject in the way that a photograph does. Tables have now turned, meaningfully. Photography is seen as a skill, a source of hustle and an opportunity that can help advance oneself.
With unemployment intensifying at an alarming rate in Botswana especially amongst youth, some of them found niche in photography. They capture pictures, but at a fee. Surely, there are so many ways of killing a cat. In an interview with Weekend Post News writer Tlhabo Kgosiemang in Gaborone on Wednesday, some youthful photographers indicated that they make ends meet through photography. Some indicated that they are self-taught, while others did it for fun, and it happened that they get paid for it.
‘’Photography is an art where an artist lays out his mindset in the form on still pictures, just as great artist that painted such as Leonardo Da’Vinci, I use my camera as my paint brush. A great photograph has emotion. I have always been advised by well-established photographers to change my style and follow some typical ‘’photography rules’’. But for me, photography is an art and the only thing that can distinguish a great picture from the rest is the ability of giving out emotion in your photographs’’ says Kevin Kalabante, a 21-year-old Mahalapye born and Founder of Kissed by The Gods photography.
He said he started photography after he discovered that he actually can be a great photographer, liking the kind of work he does and eventually doing what he wants to do. He discovered a few great local photographers, but for him, it was distinct and astonishing on how the puzzle pieces fitted together and how fast his development was.
A Botswana International University of Science and Technology BIUST Geological Engineering students noted that everything and everyone is an inspiration for his creative energy. He can draw some inspiration from the simplest aspect of something, visualize it and create something unique and new.
Kalabante indicated that photography is the simplest but yet stressful kind of hustle, especially for the 21 century generation. ‘’It is definitely the best kind of making money. I enjoy taking pictures, and being able to eat from what you love is an exceptional feeling. It is the best gift you could give to yourself’’
However, there has always been ups and downs. As photographers, the biggest challenge is the pricing of their services. ‘’Me being unfairly expensive is quite an everyday conversation for me but I try by all means to show the clients how much time, effort and skill I put into my work’’. Further, he underscored that although clients are mostly the hardest people to deal with, he always finds a way to work out stuff and that makes his job likeable at most times’’ Kalabante believes that 2018 was a great year for his brand, but as 2019 started, new skills, targets and important people came up into the equation.
‘’I still have a long way for the vision in mind but eventually it will be reached’’ he said. He has started receiving international recognition this year, including the international Nikon photo contest held by Nikon annually. Other than that, it has always been about countless shoots and collaborative projects. ‘’I really do not want to divulge some other stuff I am working on, but they will be published with time’’
He advised aspiring photographers to follow what their hearts lead them to, saying that they should not chase it for the money, but for the dream. Kalabante highlighted that passion keeps him relevant. ‘’Long as you have the drive in your heart and mindset, you can never go wrong. Stay humble and put the work’’.
For his part, Gonna Monngakgotla, a 23-year-old Kanye born oddly creative said photography is literally just the art he sees. ‘’It is basically the art of capturing what’s around you. I like breaking down this to people that I capture anything that you would look at and make you think outside the box. But obviously photography is diverse and has different fields to it, I am more leaning onto fashion, creative photography and soon to do landscape photography’’
Monngakgotla describes a photograph as a freezing time, a captured and frozen moment. ‘’A photographer has to be the artist with an eye for such interesting moments. It’s all in the eye and knowledge basically, which is why we getting paid for it. It is not just about clicking the camera as people may presume. There is a lot of thought process that occurs in the midst of a picture being shot and not to forget the work that goes into editing and bringing the picture to life’’ he highlighted
Just like any other photographer, he draws an inspiration from something. Monngakgotla stressed that Botswana as a whole inspires him. ‘’My country has beautiful people and places which I feel the obligation to showcase to the world and get people to appreciate the beauty that we pride ourselves in. I also get inspired by anything that looks abnormal, oddly creative as I would call it. Some of the inspiration I draw from the internet, I love taking pictures that will get people talking, if it is controversial to them I will be the guy behind the lenses’’ he said the 2016 album he titled Basadi got recognized internationally on Afropunk, an American magazine. Some of his pictures captured in Parliament during the unemployment protest nearly broke the internet.
‘’Photography is part of who I am, I love it and I am passionate about it. I just happen to get paid for it’’. He noted that he has achieved a lot ever since venturing into photography, saying that it is his main source of income. Monngakgotla has managed to branch out the profits into coming up with a clothing brand. He indicated that due to a good business structure, he has managed to stay relevant in the game.
‘’As much as photography is a hobby, hustle or a job to most of us, it has to be managed with profession. It has to have a well laid out business plan, that indicates cash flows, and a photographer should be able to read risks and opportunities available’’. He added that research, learning something new and keeping in touch with customers makes a winning business.
However, unlike Kalabante, partnering up with other photographers has been the worst mistake Monngakgotla ever took. ‘’The biggest challenge I came across was trying to work with other photographers. Collaborative works does magic for creatives but is usually the most complicated effort to take, working with people’s tight schedules is quite exhausting’’ he 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.