Performing arts, if taken seriously can be a career and contribute to Botswana’s Gross Domestic Product as is in South Africa- South African actress, Sindi Dlathu has remarked. Dlathu revealed this at her Master Class last weekend at the University of Botswana.
Dlathu was seemingly impressed by the “potential talent” she witnessed during the intimate event. A cohort of young aspiring actors, choreographers and singers, attended the session; and according her, if incubated their talent can help improve the country’s economy. Dlathu is mostly known for her role as ‘Thandaza’ on popular Venda soap opera, Muvhango. She is one of the show’s founding actors in 1997. Dlathu was launched in the public eye at a tender age, having been amongst the Sarafina cast at only 14.
An all rounder, she is also a choreographer and singer and has worked alongside Michael Peters, the man behind Michael Jackson’s dance moves as an assistant choreographer. “In South Africa, the arts contribute enormously to the country’s GDP, it has grown and has now become a big industry and it is now contributing to the country’s economy. The Botswana government needs to seek sponsors and partnerships with other countries in order to draw investors from across. This can help further the career of arts individuals,” Dlathu advised.
Moreover, she advised that if the government can partner with Multichoice, a video entertainment and internet company with a strong presence in South Africa and across the African continent, this can attract investors from other countries. She further called on to the youth to be proactive and show the government that they really want to do this. During an interview with the actress on the event’s sidelines, Dlathu revealed that the passion of the young performers had impressed her. “I am touched by the passion, I have never seen such passion, these people were ready to absorb and they are also very insightful. They knew what they wanted, they did not come to see me but because they are passionate and I will definitely come again if invited,” Dlathu said.
“If I had a production house, I would take them all. There is a lot talent here!” she added. Meanwhile, theatre performer, Ralph Thato Dennison, who recently directed Kgosikgolo-The Musical and co-founded Sedibeng Choir alongside Andy Batshogile and others, in an interview with WeekendLife said he believes that the government is not doing enough to meet the needs of performing arts locally halfway. “I think government officials should do thorough research on the arts industry. The reason why they are not assisting enough is because they don't understand the magnitude, work and finance put on a production. In general our government is not doing enough to assist the arts industry. They put more focus on sports and the arts we are overlooked,” Dennison highlighted.
He further said that government personnel should undergo intense training and workshops to train them on the arts industry and what they go through to put up shows. “Most of the time we would for example propose a P200 000 budget looking at all the logistics and cost we are going to incur. Then they will in turn give us P70 000 and we will remain with debts after shows because of lack of resolute funding. On the other hand, when we request for funding and we include remuneration for performers we often get asked why we have to pay people to display their talents,” he lamented.
He also backed Dlathu’s sentiments about the arts industry in South Africa. “South Africans take arts seriously. They don't assist according to who they know. They have programs to assist mature groups. In South Africa people can make a living from performing arts because of consistency, here it is just measured as a hobby,” he highlighted. On the other hand, Co-Judge of Signed International, Tumelo Edward Chaba said that Botswana has great potential in the area of performing arts. “The potential is there and the market is ready to consume local content. The only challenge I see is we are still behind when it comes to investing in it, so artists can't do their best because of that,” said.
He further explained that acting in Botswana has improved in a major way. “Back in the days we didn't have local acting schools and now one can apply at Limkokwing or AFDA and get their skills upgraded and even gather more insights surrounding the acting profession in general. Furthermore some people are actually making a living out of acting,” he said. “The government is soon to launch BTV 2 youth Chanel and I think it is good news to both actors and producers so in a nutshell I think the industry is heading in the right direction,” he explained further.
Last year February, Minister of Basic Education, (then Education and Skills Development) Unity Dow was quoted at the launch of the Performing Arts programme as saying performing arts had the potential to diversify the country’s economy. The project tagged Unleash Your Star Qualities, which was a partnership between the Ministry of Education and Limkokwing University; enrolled 100 candidates selected from auditions conducted around the country and were to be credited by the university.
The performers enrolled would go on to produce and perform Moratiwa a theatrical piece under the guidance of legendary jazz artist Socca Moruakgomo. Since the play, the group never produced any other offering. Neither did the ministry nor the University show any signs the Programme would continue. This month, marks one year since Moratiwa premiered. On the other hand, the University of Botswana only started offering a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in 2009. In 2013, the department of Music, Visual and Performing Arts was introduced.
From as early as 1982, the UB had a travelling theatre, dubbed the University of Botswana Travelling Theatre (UBTT). The theatre, having travelled most of the country gained prominence and was appreciated by the public. It was on that basis that the university designed some theatre courses to be offered as part of the English curriculum and simultaneously recruited staff qualified in theatre studies to teach the courses. The first cohort of the UB BFA graduated in October 2014.
Although there are a lot of productions companies in Botswana, DeeZone productions has been dominant in the arts industry offering better platforms for actors and artists to showcase their talent. The company has hired a limited number of more than 30 graduates who have played part in local television stories, like Ntwakgolo, Lethabile, and even introduced Btv’s first magazine show Pula Power and First Issues.
Most local soapies that have aired locally are momentary; currently the country does not have a solid drama. Thokolosi and Re Bina Mmogo are two notable television dramas aired on Btv. Botswana has exported most of its acting talent to South Africa, including some musicians and models. Connie Ferguson, Oneal, Ban-T, Thato Sikwane, Thabang Mmolotsi, Kgomotso Ratsie and Kaone Kario are among Batswana who are making significant strides in the South African arts industry.
A job, lucrative or not, is a job after all. Sometimes one has to compromise in order to make a living, few people get a job their dream jobs. But once in a while there is an emergence of people who listen to their inner calling to pursue their passion.
The founder and head designer of Butterfly Couture, Chawa July is one of those few people who left their job to pursue their passion. An inspiring fact about July is that she is a self-taught fashion designer, she used to copy patterns from her old clothes until she learnt how to draw them, and she also searched information from the internet to increase her knowledge and skills.
“It all started as a hobby from my love for beautiful dresses and I started adjusting and making clothes for myself. Gradually people around me started to take interest in my craft and the hobby slowly grew into a profitable business,” July said.
The 41 year fashion designer from Molepolole worked her way up in the Procurement space for over 10 years. She worked at Stanbic Bank, Kromberg & Schubert and Clover Dairy as a Procurement supervisor. Her last job before she entered the fashion industry was a Manager for Contacts & Sourcing at a Facilities Management Company.
She established her fashion house in October 2019 and it has become synonyms with elegant wedding gowns and exquisite evening wear. July said when designing she is inspired by various aspects such as the client’s personality, the mood of the event and the theme. She further mentioned that every opportunity is to show her craft so she always aims to please.
“Every Butterfly Couture piece must represent the elegance and the creativity the brand is about,” she said. Butterfly Couture has adorned beauty queens; Miss Botswana 2021/2022 Ambrociah Samboko at Miss Universe in South Korea and Miss Botswana 2019,Oweditse Fafah Phirinyane during her reign of which is the highlight of her career. They have also marked their presence in a few fashion events locally and in the neighbouring countries.”
They showcased at The Grand Palm Wedding Expo, Masa Fashion Show, Miss Botswana Fashion Show and Sacunda plus Size Fashion Show. The will also be showcasing at Gabs July Fashion Show on the 15th of July alongside the South African designer, popularly known as the King of glamour David Tlale.
July also identified that one of the challenges they face in the couture is that, it’s a seasonal business. “There are times in the year when the business is great and challenging. Winter in particular, is difficult time to stay afloat as there aren’t as many events that people are inspired to dress spectacularly for,” she said. She further said that her aim is to be a prime couturier of choice in Botswana.
“Craft like your life depends on it because every happy client is 10 more referrals” is what she said when asked to serve a word of wisdom to people hoping to make it in the fashion industry.
The Botswana Gospel Music Awards (BOGMA) and the Annual Gospel Awards (AGA) are said to be no longer in existence and a joint venture project has been put up that will carry out the awarding of gospel musicians.
The new entity has been established as Gospel Music Awards, which is a project at this moment is nearer to dishing out the first Gospel Awards under the leadership of the dissolved entities (BOGMA and AGA). “The difference is the same, it is just that the two projects were run by different minds which had differing objectives,” said the project coordinator, Letsweletse Moshabi when asked what the difference was between the two previous awards.
He added that at this junction their focus is on the future of the gospel musicians and they would like to direct their energies to the new project and forgo the past projects. “The Music market especially the gospel genre is too small and that basically means the very small market was experiencing the imbalance in the supply and demand forces. At that stage, supply was more than the demand so the reason for the joint forces is to allow the supply and demand forces to readjust and form equilibrium,” added Moshabi.
The mandate and objectives of the project are to recognize and award gospel music talent, to create awareness of the Botswana gospel music industry and to create a platform where fellow musicians may exchange ideas and network amongst themselves and approach international markets in cohesion.
The first of these joint awards will be held on the 27th August 2022 at Molapo Showcase under the theme ‘Cohesiveness to Build’ where about 18 categories will be up for grabs.
The Kumnandi Ekhaya musik festival will be held on the 30th September 2022 at Thamaga village. The event coincides with the release of famous host, Dj Ngwazi’s first album called ‘spring day’ on the 2nd of September 2022.
The Thamaga born and raised Lefika Lushen Kebatlege is a disc jockey and a music producer signed under WanitwaMos Entertainment in South Africa. Famously known as Dj Ngwazi and formally known as DJ superstar, he has really worked hard to become one of the finest export DJs the country has produced. Internationally, he is described as a DJ from South African because of his works with popular music artist Master KG.
Meanwhile, the music festival will feature South African artists, Makhazi, Master KG, Prince Benza and Mthunzi. They will also be joined by some of the big local artists, Franco, Vee Mampeezy, among others. “The tickets of the concert will be available at Spar stores, webticket and Kings bar. There will be three categories for VIP tickets, the one that goes for P1000, P1500 and P2200,” said the Kumnandi Ekhaya musik fest promoter Sadie Swartz of Saysay Entertainment.
“We have a new system to tackle the cry of promoters about security at the events. We will have a team of 100 security men, 10 horses and 15 dogs. We also agreed with the police to help with traffic control and no tickets will be sold at the gate to avoid circulation of money which can attract thieves,” said Kagiso Gaodumelwe from All Night Security.
“I started deejaying back in the days when I was still schooling at Kagiso Senior School and I never stopped working towards my career since then. I have a career in South Africa, since 2018 when Master KG took me in and his support as a brother has taken me to places,” said DJ Ngwazi describing his career journey.
“Kumnandi Ekhaya is Zulu language which means ‘go monate ko gae’ in Setswana. The name came about as a way of inviting my South African fans and supporters to my home village Thamaga to come experience the joy that comes with celebrating our freedom and independence. I used isiZulu because it’s the dominant language in South Africa,” explained Dj Ngwazi.
“The concert will be held in an open space which was used for agricultural purposes and we would like to call it ‘Ko Legoleng’. With this concert I want to redeem the dignity of our village because we once had the cases of youth who were terrorizing the community, beating up people in the streets and stealing and these was really a concern in our community because they were tarnishing the village name,” said Dj Ngwazi.
The purpose of this concert is to empower the community of Thamaga and local artist, more especially artist from Thamaga village like, Kgabo Sereto traditional group. There will be a litter picking campaign around the village before the launch of the concert .The sponsors which are already on board are Dladleng Entertainment and Kings bar and there are still more sponsors to be revealed.
”As the Kumnandi Ekhaya musik fest management, we are going to buy food combos and take them to Thamaga village Kgotla so they can be donated to the less privileged and orphans. Starting from October we will be donating pads to all Junior Schools in Thamaga,” said Dj Ngwazi. Dj Ngwazi’s motivational words to other artist and everyone else; work hard, be patient and be determined.