Every human culture has music in the same way they have language. It is often referred to as a universal language that one can use to communicate across cultural and linguistic boundaries while conveying different emotions-and Culture Spears did exactly that for the world.
The group had come of age, and had mastered the art of enthusing Setswana culture in a track mostly taken from folklore songs; crafting their works into a tour de force compilation appreciated by all, writes DAVE BAAITSE. In 2014, at the height of their music careers, Culture Spears parted ways. The small group that had found a home in many hearts and were darlings of Southern Africa had yet to achieve more accolades in their journey. Having only started 10 years before then, in 2004, the group had in a short span of time bagged various awards and brought much needed recognition to traditional music.
Their music had the power to evoke deep primal feelings at the core of the shared human experience, it not only crosses cultures but also reaches deep into evolutionary past. Incorporated in the modern day tempo, Culture Spears’ music future looked even brighter than any other traditional group of their time.
The only remaining founder at the now struggling ‘Culture Spears’ is Kabelo Mogwe. And for the past three years, fans have been holding their breath hoping for the group to reunite. On social media, various groups and pages have been created wherein fans call for the founding group members to “return home.” This week a throwback picture of Kabelo Mogwe and Thembeni Ramosetlheng surfaced on Facebook, and multitudes of fans reacted to the picture with mixed feelings and desperation for the group to bury the hatchet and get back together.
When reacting to the fans’ wishes Mogwe ‘said he was still optimistic that the group will one day re- unite. He said for the group to have broken up leaving him behind is an unfortunate incident that has killed the bigger brand that was Culture Spears. Over the past two years Mogwe has been struggling with the group to take it back to where it used to be but the move proved futile without the services of founding members in Jelina ‘Selonyana’ Mokgwatlheng, Thembeni ‘Ramozara’ Ramosetlheng and Magdeline ‘Charma Gal’ Lesolebe. Culture Spears under only Mogwe has released one album which did not do relatively good.
Charma Gal, who left the group and pursued a solo career, has been enjoying success after success, albeit in a totally different genre. The Kwaito Kwasa sensation was recently quoted in the media as saying she was not ruling out the group’s reunion, provided the group acted more professionally. The Sekuta hit maker, who has just released a new album Ke ya Mmokolodi shared that she would work with the group again if they got management. At the same time Ramozara was struggling to make end meets with his own solo project which didn’t do well because of lack of marketing and amid lack of financial resources.
With Mogwe still holding it down and dying for a group that he helped form to resurrect, he wakes up every day with ambitions that one day they will re- unite and that the possibility of working together. He says they usually take stage to perform together where opportunities arises. “You see in paper we are still together, they still own shares in this group,” said Mogwe.
However, he said with Charma Gal having recently released another new solo project and Thembeni working on something else it will be difficult to finally work together. He said he is in talks with Jelina Mokgwatlheng, the most liked ‘Selonyana’ who is currently based in Gantsi and they usually perform together in the area. He said he however awaits the others who are still busy with their solo projects to join them.
Recently Thembeni featured in a musical programme on Botswana Television and said it was only a matter of time and they (the group) will be back together at Kulenyane Studios. When speaking to WeekendLife, he shared the same sentiments and added that however there was lot to be done besides just a union. “There are a lot of issues to be resolved on the table before going on stage,” said the concerned Thembeni.
Their reunion will signal nothing but the resurrection of the local traditional music genre and crème de la crème of the traditional song and dance. Theirs is more likely to take off as compared to other groups who have lost all hope of reuniting. Their detractors point out that their return to working together as a stable could yield and rebrand them as the continent’s favourite at this critical time when the genre is facing a decline.
The collapse of Culture Spears followed yet another bigger group that had plunged the traditional music scene and had given many people hope travelling the world. Matsieng, was a force to reckon with, turned the tables. But soon, their conflicting egos got in the way of the group flourishing.Another group, the hunky Dikakapa troupe, also promising, had their journey cut short as well. These groups that raised the country’s flag high with so much patriotism in their performance and a showcase of cultural exchange among other nations. Despite being labelled the pioneers of traditional music, Machesa traditional group were a step closer to achieving more when they brought home a Kora Award.
Queen of Sands, Olebile Maxy Sedumedi is also among the veterans who have made a mark in the genre. However, despite her success she had to also change genres before she eventually disappeared altogether from the music scenes, only making occasional appearances at corporate events and various celebrations. It remains to be seen if she will attempt to bounce back along with all the other groups that have vanished into thin air.
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.