Motlhaolosa Poetry Ensemble, Karavan collaborate
Motlhaolosa Poetry Ensemble has collaborated with Swedish literary magazine, Karavan on a cultural exchange programme where Batswana and Swedish poets and cultural workers will meet, discuss issues of interest and forge working relations.
The collaboration is yet another momentous one for the local poetry group, which has for a considerable amount of time now, been advocating for and advancing Setswana poetry and culture locally and abroad. In an interview with WeekendLife the band leader and renowned poet, Moroka Moreri revealed that collaborations were always a great achievement for any artist. “I think it the dream of any artist and it’s the greatest achievement to collaborate with other international artists.”
The partnership, he said, however did not just fall from the sky like manna. “We worked very hard in the recent past and have been active, and this has made us visible to them. So seeing this Karavan took interest in us, and wanted us to join hands to further develop poetry,” Moreri said.
Represented by Karavan editor, Birgitta Wallin and literary scholar Erik Falk the group will arrive in Botswana on the 11th and stay through the 16th of December. While here, they will engage in cultural tours and activities, a workshop as well as join local artists for a poetry night before heading back to Sweden.
According to Moroka, “Motlhaolosa has worked tirelessly over the past few years. We put our work out there for the world to see, and we have since taken our art to various places including South Africa. We have travelled the breadth of the country, and this partnership with Karavan is yet another milestone.” He further revealed that two renowned Swedes, Olivia Bergdahl and Ismael Ataria will be among the visiting team.
Bergdahl won the Swedish National Poetry as a 17 year old in 2007, and came fourth in the World Cup in 2008. She has toured Sweden, Europe and the US in the last decade. She has published a novel and one collection of poems. She has also recorded an album. Ataria, a poet, author and stage performer, has published several books and received a number of literary awards. He has made countless performances and readings. While said preparations were at an advanced stage, he said they were still in need of financial sponsors, and called out to willing partners to contact the group.
He said that the University of Botswana had shown goodwill as the Department of Visual and Performing Arts had provided a venue to host the workshop. Veteran novelist, Andrew Sesinyi will be among presenters at the workshop. The workshop, he said was open to all poets, writers and aspirants at no fee.
The official opening will be held at Sanitas and the ultimate event, being the poetry night is slated for next Saturday (16 December) where Motlhaolosa Poetry Ensemble, Lister Boleseng, Maruping Poetry Club, Africa Poetry Club alongside other poetry acts will perform.
He said that he hoped the exchanges would become an annual event so that local poets and writers can get to experience each other’s cultures and learn from one another as well as to develop poetry.
Caravan is a Swedish quarterly literary magazine committed to introducing literature from all over the world, not only through reviews and articles but through original translations. It has long standing experience from international collaboration, and has over the years worked in India and East Africa with local organisations to learn about literary phenomena and present them to s Swedish audience, in Swedish.
In 2009, Karavan won the prestigious Stig Dagerman prize. The award is given to a person who, or an organization that, in the spirit of Swedish author, Stig Dagerman, supports the significance and availability of the "free word" (freedom of speech), promoting inter-cultural understanding and empathy. In 2013, Karavan collaborated with Petlo Literary Arts Trust in a cultural exchange programme which comprised a reading tour and a literary workshop
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Dr Lame Pusetso comes to writer’s rescue
Multi award winning author of fifteen (15) books, Dr Lame Pusetso has put together a platform to empower local writers. Dr Pusetso is a President and Chairperson of the Executive Board of Kasapa Society.
She is also the Managing Director of Poeticblood Publishers and an owner of an online bookstore dubbed Mind and Soul Bookstores. Dr Pusetso has reiterated her commitment to helping upcoming authors, writers and poets in establishing their crafts and capitalizing on them.
In an exclusive interview this week, she said that she has put together a platform dubbed Botswana Literature Awards, which have fourteen categories.
When quizzed on what the awards stand for, Dr Pusetso said “writing as a form of art in Botswana is a skill that many have and have always been exploring. As a publisher, I have met different writers from all walks of life and some indicating that there isn’t enough motivation to keep going.”
In Botswana and according to the writer, there has been a limited representation of appreciation of authors. This is despite their efforts year in year out.
The whole intention of these awards really is to honor and recognize the hard work that local authors put in, when doing what they know best (writing).
“This is a way of appreciating their creativity and we will be doing this across all genres. The awards also act as a motivational tool to young writers who still have dreams of becoming best selling authors. Quite frankly, their works are of great importance and we cannot afford to let that slide like that.”
Dr Pusetso emphasized that all the winners will walk away with an award, a certificate and complimentary gifts to take home. “The two winners of Best Overall Author and Best Young Author will in addition receive book publication deals which includes book distribution and marketing for a year.
She gave a clearer picture of how authors can be a part of the literature awards.
“The awards are open to every author from the age of 7, must be a Motswana, and their book should have been published before or by 2022. For authors with more than one book, they are allowed to compete with only one book for one category, and different books for different categories.”
The young writer pinned hope on institutional collaborations, in order to stage the second edition of the awards next year, saying “We believe with these awards, the different institutions and stakeholders will show interest in helping nurture the literature scenario in Botswana.”
“It will also give authors hope and light to keep writing and penning down their stories for the benefit of all. We anticipate to host the next edition in 2024 with assistance from all interested parties.”
THE LITERATURE AWARDS CATEGORIES
Dr Pusetso stressed that there are fourteen (14) categories, and they are: Religious or Faith Based Book, Poetry Book, Children’s Book, Multi-lingual Writer, Best Collaboration, Setswana Novel, English Novel, Motivational Book, Best Young Author (7-13), Overall Best Author, Best Theory, Best Online Writer, Best Media Writer (Honor Award) and Honor Award (Long Serving Best Author).
EXPLAINING SPECIAL AWARDS
Best Media and Honor Award, Dr Pusetso said are not based on submissions but nomination by the committee. “For Honor Award, we want to appreciate the individual who has inspired the Botswana writing scenario over the years and even assisted numerous authors as both a writer and a community leader.”
The Best Media Writer award is meant to appreciate a journalist who is actively taking part in appreciating and helping authors in marketing, advertising and affording them a platform to showcase their works through their writing skills.
Meanwhile, the Botswana Literature Awards will be held on the 29th April and they are partially sponsored through the literacy grant. This is a grant under the Botswana National Library Services which falls under the Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sports and Culture.
Women’s Awards hit the ground running
The second edition of the much-anticipated Women’s Awards Botswana will be going down on the 27th May 2023 in Gaborone at Travel Lodge. The organizers of the prestigious awards have announced finalists, with three nominees per category.
Women’s Awards Botswana is established to empower women and celebrate them from all walks of life and across sectors. The awards raise awareness for women to be granted equal participation, particularly in decision-making positions, as one way of breaking the gender bias.
They also seek to celebrate the outstanding achievements of women from diverse industries in Botswana. Taking a closer look at the categories, He for She award celebrates and shines a light on men who stand and support women.
These are men who advocate for inclusion of women, men who stand against GBV and men who promote any service that can better women life. Her Abilities award looks into women who have shown determination to keep moving and achieve any goal they have set for themselves, regardless of their disability.
Other awards are self-explanatory. They celebrate women in arts, culture and entertainment, agriculture, creativity, innovation and technology, tourism and hospitality, community impact as well as organization supporting women.
ORGANIZER SPEAKS ON CRITERIA USED
When speaking in an interview, Founder and Director of Women’s Awards Botswana, Bofelo Zebe, said in their first edition, they had fifteen categories, which was enough for a piloting project.
“But we left out many industries or lines of work. After the event, we received reviews and suggestions, and there was an intensive evaluation that led to us increasing the categories to eighteen for this second edition.”
He said the nominees were voted in by the public, adding that the finalists were judged by a panel with the support of votes from their supporters.
When shedding light on what winners take home, Zebe indicated that there is an award trophy, certificate and goodie bags for all categories but “we are working to have financial sponsors jump on board so that winners and nominees can receive monetary incentives. We are also busy at work trying to retain our previous sponsors.”
THE 2023 WOMEN’S AWARDS BOTSWANA NOMINEES
HE FOR SHE AWARD
Desmond Lunga, Tlhabo Kgosiemang and Christopher Seagateng
BEST WOMAN IN ARTS, CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT
Ditshupo Mosoboloko, Thanolo Keutlwile and Seneo Mabengano
HER ABILITIES AWARD
Koketso Seleke, Goabo Kgasa and Mumsie Odirile
SPORTS WOMAN OF THE YEAR
Naledi Marape, Ouname Mhotsha and Keamogetse Kenosi
WOMAN FASHION DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
Montle Rantatana, Lesedi Matlapeng and Trudy Bakwena
BEST WOMAN IN AGRICULTURE
Nomathemba Masuku, Basadi Molelekeng and Keolebogile Keabetswe
BEST WOMAN IN CREATIVITY, INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY
Marang Mbaakanyi, Didintle Moreki and Thandeka Palai
BEST WOMAN IN TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY
Masego Keleadile, Wapula Matshambane and Tshepo Phokoje
YOUNG WOMAN OF THE YEAR
Bridget Gothaang, Waone Makobo and Kimberly Matheakgomo
WOMAN OWNED SME BUSINESS OF THE YEAR
Suits Africa, Nomlu Nail Bar and Sunflower Desserts
BEST WOMAN OWNED BUSINESS
Prezlin Clothing and Dawn Bell Academy
FEMALE MUSIC ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Mpho Sebina, Dato Seiko and Priscilla K
BEST ORGANIZATION SUPPORTING WOMEN
Sekao Foundation, The Fighters Support Group and Single Mothers Living with HIV
BEST WOMAN WITH COMMUNITY IMPACT
Lebopo Bulayani, Nanzelela Chaitezvi and Kebadile Wasenda
MEDIA WOMAN OF THE YEAR
Poppy Sello, Keikantse Shumba and Kedi Lezozo
FAVOURITE PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR
Marang Selolwane, Palesa Molefe and Masi Sithole
BEST WOMAN IN LEADERSHIP
Naseem Lahri, Neo Bogatsu and Lily Rakorong
AMANDA BLACK RETURNS TO SELF WITH NEW SINGLE “NGUWE”
“NGUWE” SETS THE TONE TO HER FORTH STUDIO ALBUM
Johannesburg, Friday, 17th March 2022- ” Amanda Black returns with her signature mix of Afro Pop, hip hop, R&B, and deeply-rooted Xhosa influences to deliver an inspirational message of returning to self and self-love with her new single “Nguwe” .
Available all digital platforms.
The single comes as Amanda Black gears up to release her forth studio album, featuring new songs with her signature sound infusing R&B Soul and tribal African melodies. As she grows and discovers herself as an individual, a spiritual being and a musician, Amanda is on a journey of self-discovery. The music reflects on the better and more hopeful space she has come to in this journey, the single “Nguwe” sets the tone and follows the theme of the upcoming album. The music is about falling in love with self , honoring yourself by self-acceptance. The overall theme and message is spiritual reconnection and trusting herself with her music.
Surfacing in 2016, that album was certified platinum a scant three weeks after its release and went on to earn Black numerous nominations and awards – including three South Africa Music Awards, two Metro Awards and a BET International Artist Of The Year nomination.
Most importantly, Amazulu’s mix of Afro Pop, hip hop, R&B, and deeply-rooted Xhosa influences secured Black a devoted fanbase that stretched right across the country. These music lovers quickly embraced her gift for telling authentic coming-of-age African stories through songs that touched on the universal experiences of love and heartbreak, of finding and losing yourself, of having hopes and dealing with fears.
But, in the background, Black was discovering that the road to becoming a fulltime artist wasn’t easy – even one marked by commercial and critical success straight out of the gate.
Of course, when she began singing in church as a child growing up in the Eastern Cape, and even when she studied Music Education at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Black never imagined it would all be plain sailing. She knew there was no guarantee that, when she boarded a Greyhound bus headed for Johannesburg, she would return home with a story of success to tell. Too many talented musicians from her home town had made that same journey but had never returned – an experience captured with poignant insight on “Bayile”, one of Power’s standout tracks.
Still, Black never expected she’d have to expend so much energy standing up for her artistic rights after she’d become one of South Africa’s most popular and awarded artists. There was even a moment when she thought, “what am I doing this for?”. “The music industry is not what it looks like from the outside,” the 25-year-old says, with just a flash of emotion. “Becoming a singer is not what you imagine. It’s a lot harder and a lot deeper. At that time, I asked myself, ‘do you even still love music’. I truly didn’t know if I could continue to keep fighting to be treated with respect and fairness. There was a part of me that thought maybe music should just be a hobby – that I should just return to that happy place where I play my music and sing, for myself, my family and my community and it feels good.”
But, in spite of feeling helpless and hopeless at times, deep down Black knew that she still adored this thing called music; that the dream she’s always had, of doing something that can change the world and heal people, remained intact. And so she went to the one place where she knew she could move through the dark and into the light and start writing music again: home.
“My family is like my compass,” Black says, her words laced with gratitude and love. “They are always there to support me, especially my mom. Whenever I go home, it’s to recharge. I can honestly say that being there is like getting my superpower back.”
Alongside allowing her to feel the energetic power of her roots and the love of her family, being home enabled Black to make sense of the journey she’d travelled so far. She’d learnt to play and write on the guitar at 16 and, as part of reclaiming the purity of her love for making music, she returned to the instrument within the safety of home. “The sound of the guitar soothes me, and it reminds of when I would write and play music with no conditions, with no expectations,” she says. Black also began working with the beats and melodies that she has on her phone, freestyling lyrics with no judgement or editing, letting her spirit feel its way forward through singing and playing and imagining.
With a renewed sense of her creative being propelling her, Black returned to Johannesburg. There she embarked on process of making Power and establishing her new label Afro Rockstar, in partnership with Sony Music. Power is a mix of autobiographical songs – a highlight is the light-hearted “Egoli” – and others, like first single “Thandwa Ndim”, that see Black giving impactful voice to the experiences of women in the current socio-political moment. The album features several love songs including “Lemme Go” and “Love Again”, and includes the stunning “Hamba”, a song about being thirsty for life, love, hope and happiness that features a chorus sampled from Margaret Singana’s “Hamba Bhekile” off “Shaka Zulu”.
Power sees Black once more working with producer Christer Kobedi and the album also has a special collaboration with keyboardist and producer, Kenneth Crouch. In the end, it’s an album of inspiration, of motivation and of integrity. As the next musical calling card of a South African global artist in-the-making, it’s breath-taking and is poised to bring Black back to where she belongs: performing beautiful music for music lovers everywhere