Following a solid showing at the internationally acclaimed Bushfire Festival in the Kingdom of eSwatini in May 2019, Sereetsi & The Natives recently returned from Nairobi, Kenya, where they wowed music lovers with their unique brand of four string guitar-driven contemporary folk jazz.
Testimony to Sereetsi & The Natives’ growing international profile, the Kenyan outing came a few days after playing the Whitsun Heritage Festival in Hungary on June 9, 2019. “Nairobi was awesome! Hearing the crowd singing along to our Setswana lyrics and even crying ‘we want more’ at the end of our set, was the best feeling ever,” says Sereetsi. Although the act played a 2 hour 20 minutes set but the live music heads that patronized J’s Westlands, which is one of Nairobi’s trendiest joints, still called for encores.
“We had to do an encore! We certainly would be back in Nairobi,” Sereetsi says. Sereetsi & The Natives was booked to play the popular Thursday Nite Live @ J’s, a show curated by Roots International and hosted by the trendy venue. Interestingly Sereetsi played with an all Kenyan backing band.
“There are natives everywhere. It is a common practice on the international scene. I have played in a similar fashion in Sweden, Namibia and South Africa in the past. It makes costs manageable, especially for shows that do not have major sponsors. It also makes for cultural exchange. Although the musicians I played with had not heard my music before we met, they pulled it off beautifully after three days of rehearsals,” says Sereetsi.
The Thursday Nite Live performance was preceded by a collaborative show titled Artistic Encounters curated by well-known author Zukiswa Wanner and sponsored by German organisation, Goethe Institute. “I am thankful to Zukiswa for the booking. We met last year when I performed at the Ake Arts & Book Festival in Lagos, Nigeria last year,” Sereetsi relates.
The Artistic Encounters series features two artists from different artistic disciplines working on a new work of art, which they then perform in front of an intimate audience. Sereetsi brought his four string guitar and his storytelling-driven vocal delivery to the collaboration with Ngwatilo Mawiyoo, a great Kenyan poet and author. “We had a wonderful show with my co-star. Just the two of us on stage. We had to put together a new and compelling one hour show of poetry and music in two days,” says Sereetsi.
He says that he is happy that the Natives profile as an international act is steadily growing. “It is one of the things I set out to achieve when I decided to enter the recording industry. I am happy that the industry seems to be responding positively to the native sound,” he says. Some of Sereetsi & The Natives’ international performances to date include a stop-over in Chicago, USA, dates in Stockholm, Sweden and a showing at Planetta World Music Festival in Gothenburg, Sweden (2016). Sereetsi & The Natives has also starred at Ake Arts & Book Festival, Lagos, Nigeria (2018), Sesolo Festival in Mozambique (2018) and in South Africa; the Moshito Street Festival (2018), Mahika Mahikeng Jazz Festival (2018, 2016 & 2015), Kgalagadi Jazz Festival (2016 & 2017) and the Cultural Calabash Fest (2015).
The act has also played the International Jazz Day Concerts in Namibia (April 2019) and further embarked on a 10 date tour of South Africa in 2016. In Botswana, Sereetsi & The Natives has headlined major live music festivals and continues to maintain a busy corporate gig schedule. The act headlined the Gaborone International Music and Culture Week in August 2016 with US smooth jazz star, Jonathan Butler, and returned in 2018 alongside Musiq Soulchild. Sereetsi & the Natives has also played the Maitisong Arts Festival, Maun International Arts Festival, The Hamptons International Jazz Festival, BNSC Awards, Mascom Live Sessions, Son of The Soil and the President’s Concert.
In 2017, Sereetsi collaborated with Zambian star Mumba Yachi and South African bassist and singer AusTebza in a project called Kgalagadi Soul that played festivals in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Gaborone, Mafikeng and Durban. Sereetsi is also considered a pioneer on the cultural landscape in Botswana. His 83 page guitar instructional book/CD on his native folk guitar tradition entitled The Solo Four String Guitar of Botswana is a ground breaking first. Sereetsi has embarked on a folk guitar workshop tour covering 15 towns in Botswana.
He taught Botswana folk music through an artist residency at Harryda School of the Arts in Gothenburg in 2016. In 2015, he presented a workshop at an international music conference organised by the International Council of Traditional Music (ICTM) at the University of Kwazulu Natal, Durban, South Africa. As part of the Kgalagadi Soul collective, he has presented on his unique four string guitar style at University of Wits School of Music and the Tshwane School of Music.
There is a growing unpleasant of artists who do not pitch for events they have been booked for; or simultaneously, there could be another development – false advertising – where artists’ names are used to draw large crowds.
Musicians and promoters in their mission to put bread on the table seem to have resorted to obscene means of securing their means. To many, this is tantamount to fraud and deception to gain an unfair advantage over their unsuspecting fans who swoon at the mention of their name, their presence and entire existence.
The month of May has just begun and bottomless grievances are pouring in of no show musicians at gigs they have been booked and paid for. Instead of leaving the crowd stunned by a spectacular show they are leaving revellers disappointed.
Exhibit A; This past weekend Eswatini’s DJ Uncle Waffles was scheduled to perform in Botswana. She never pitched up for the shows and continues to be silent on her lack of presence at the show. Exhibit B; Maphorisa, Kabza De Small and Sha Sha were all set to perform on 29 April at the Victoria Falls Carnival 10th Anniversary but did not arrive in Zambia for the gig.
In a statement released on Sunday 1 May, Victoria Falls Carnival organisers confirmed that flights and accommodation were organised for DJ Maphorisa, Kabza De Small and Sha Sha. The statement continued; “Confirmations were sent to them as agreed and emails were sent to them several times before, for some reason they did not show up at the airport on the day of travel…
Above and beyond we tried to communicate with the artists to change the date of performance but still we could not get hold of them despite all the effort and all means of communication from our side,” Organisers have demanded that the artists refund them the full booking fee and the payments made for flights and accommodation
“All three artists were paid in full and contractually bound to perform at the Carnival, and accommodated at every corner with their numerous flight and accommodation change requests.” Adds the statement. Exhibit C; South African artist Prince Benza’s passport was confiscated by the Deputy Sheriffs pending payment for damages on breach of contract.
He was scheduled to perform at Mogobane on the 31st of December at the Reflector Music Festival but did not appear as well. He nabbed when he came into the country for a separate event. The President of Botswana Entertainment Promoters Association (BEPA), Gilbert Seagile this week had his company; Gilbert Promotions registered in South Africa.
This puts him in an ideal spot to become an intermediary and help solve the feud between Botswana and South African artists and their no show at events. Seagile emphasized that it’s not only international artists that miss events but even the local artists have the same tendencies. He elaborated that reasons for artists not pitching up are many amongst them ; breach of contracts , promoters not paying deposits and some can be natural like artist testing positive for Covid-19.
The BEPA president also indicated that fly-by-night promoters are also a concern as they do not follow the BEPA Code of conduct, “BEPA members are well coordinated, they have the code of conduct which guides them to do things accordingly. The government is pushing for promoters to join BEPA they have already started refusing with permits when one is not a member of BEPA.” he emphasized
Seagile said that the association is in talks with the South African Music Promoters Association (SAMPA) to provide protection of Botswana Promoters that when artists miss shows they can be able to rope in their lawyers in South Africa through SAMPA and Botswana through BEPA to compensate for losses incurred as a result of this exploitation.
He said another way of dealing with this matter is for Promoters to issue a contract to the artist as currently the norm is that the artist produces the contract to the promoter so this solution can help the promoters to protect themselves.
In an interview with Weekendlife, Superintendent Tumediso of Urban Police Station enunciated that matters of no show artists are normally reported by the promoter who normally comes as the complainant. The matter is then taken forward taking into consideration the evidence, this will in turn assist in determining on whether the case is theft, obtaining by false pretence or fraud. When it is all said and done, revellers love musicians to hate them and hate them to love them. It is an unending toxic relationship which no one wants to pull away from.
As the creative industry is trying to resurface from the COVID-19 dust, the board chairperson of Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS), Bakalanga Mahoko, says the society is considering giving out relief funds to their members who have been hit hard by the COVID -19 induced restrictions. She noted that this will however depend on government’s response to their request for funds.
She told WeekendLife that the society has already written to government requesting funds. Once the request is approved, she says some of the funds will enable the society to embark on road shows across the country to sensitise the general public about COSBOTS. The road shows are designed to run for several weeks before the annual general meeting which is scheduled for May, 28th this year. Among other things, she says part of the money will be used as a relief fund for their members.
“As we are all aware, the industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 restrictions and some of our members were unable to raise money for their survival and that alone affected the industry. We anticipate that government will consider and approve our request and once it’s approved our members will smile all the way to the bank as their bank accounts will be credited by the COSBOTS,” she says.
She added that if things go according to plan, this will be the second time that their members would have been assisted through such an initiative. She said at the moment they have registered about 2800 members across the country and the board anticipates that the membership number will increase sharply.
“I am not yet in a better position to divulge the amount which each artist will be given because government has not yet responded to our request, but once that has been approved the society will announce,“ she says.
Mahoko was elected as the board chairperson sometime last year and has also been the first woman to lead such society which she described as “privileged”. “As many will recall, the society was in a mess and there were squabbles among members. There was also mismanagement of funds that resulted in the members, government as well as the public losing trust on the society and that dented badly the image of the society,” she says.
Mahoko further stated since she has been in office for more than a year, things now look much better and promising. The government gave the society a grant and that alone was a sign of trust from government. Recently COSBOTS distributed over P7 million as royalties.
With over 20 years in the business of publishing school books for both primary and high school schools as well as fuelling the imagination and guiding the soul of the youth. Collegium Education Publishers are continuing with their trailblazing mission by launching EBooks.
During the launch of the Ebooks platform recently, Naledi Ratsoma, Author and Founding Director of Collegium Botswana took the audience on a trip down memory lane. She disclosed that after falling out with a local publishing company, she established new ties with a publishing company in South Africa. “The adage don’t get mad, get even worked for us.
We decided we are going to get them, we are curriculum specialists we know what the curriculum is all about and what books should be to support the type of curriculum.” She said deep in thought. “The start-up was not easy, I was the general, manager, tea lady working from 6 am to 10pm. It was sheer determination and hard work that got the company going.
Today I feel honoured and excited, Collegium grew by leaps and bounds. Here we are today. Dare I call Collegium a success story? Yes I do, it is a resounding success story.” She uttered excitedly Looking into the future, Terrence Showa, Collegium CEO was tasked with only one job to do.
That job? Moving Collegium to digitization and joining the rest of the publishing world in transition towards the Fourth industrial revolution and a knowledge based economy. “Today I stay to you quite proud to be the first publisher in the country to launch the prescribed eBooks.” He said.
Showa mentioned; “I was told to come with a cheaper solution for government, after three years with meeting several Information Technology think tanks we came to the conclusion that Snapplify, gurus in providing eBooks and eLearning were in alignment with what we are looking for. Ebooks provide a simple solution for teachers, parents, students to use at their homes.
It will also be 30% cheaper for government to procure the books. An added benefit was the ability to give free content by Snapplify on the side of library service. ” He says the Ebook Platform has been fast tacked by the rural electrification program by government prioritizing the need to digitise books.
When speaking to the WeekendPost on the side after the event, Showa when questioned on matters of piracy which comes with the digital age, he enunciated that “as Collegium the failure of us to regulate the printing and photocopying of our books frustrates us daily. There are institutions who have committed to procuring photocopying machines to make copies of our books.
We are excited about eBooks because the licence procured when buying the book will run for only a year and will limit users to being able to photocopy and take screenshots of the books. One of the reasons Snapplify made sense to us is they know exactly what the challenges that come with digital platforms are. The content will only be downloadable into devices through a profile set up and limit the number of users on the site.”
For their presentation, Stephen Bestbier and Mark Seabrook from the Snapplify Team; the application is accessible everywhere with an offline feature to encourage data saving and reading offline, it is compatible with existing devices be it mobile, tablet and desktop. The simple library management functionality makes it easy to check out books and return them automatically to curb the ancient penalty of paying late return fees as well as avoiding d issues of lost book since it will be on an online platform.
The academic features include; a designated dyslexic friendly font, text to speech functionality, journal, bookmarks. The Elibrary provides for convenience as 24/7 access to learning, materials since the online library does not close like the traditional library. The support platform ‘teacha!’ also reliefs’ teachers in their work by building skills with accredited professional development courses and platform training.
Snapplify are leaders in Pan African educational technology with thousands of institutions across Africa with students and academic staff within the Snapplify ecosystem from primary schools to tertiary institutions.
Snapplify is the best eLearning solution with a comprehensive content catalogue with constant delivery and a proven track record of rolling out large government eLearning projects. Collegium’s vision has indeed come to pass to become market leaders in the provision of high quality teaching and learning materials for institutions in Botswana.