Comfortable in her black skin, Motso Ratsie is an award winning and seasoned actress with a vast experience spanning over nine years.
As a local act, one of her breakthroughs was lending a role as a call actor in one of the South African soapies, Scandal, playing Jemina. Her artistic performances reflect her exceptional skill of entrenched interpretation of the characters she portrays. She continues to appear on South African television screens with more roles in Z’bondiwe and Saints and Sinners 2.
This coming month, at the annual Maitisong Festival, she will stage her latest production, The Signature which she directs and has a role as a character. The Signature gives an overview of real life issues including unemployment, sexual favours and passion killings amongst others.
In this tragic theatrical piece, we meet Molatlhwa, a 33 year old handy man who tries his best to make ends meet in order to impress and support his girlfriend Mosa, who since graduating from school struggles to find employment. These two are deeply in love and they have vowed to stay together despite all challenges. As the play unfolds Mosa faces a serious dilemma when the only way she can finally have a job is to sleep with a wealthy businessman.
In desperation she decides to give in. Molatlhwa catches them in the act and he feels totally betrayed by the woman he has done everything for and he decides to take a decision that he thinks is best for both of them. What is the decision? This question will be answered in the night of the production play at Maitisong Theatre when The Signature reaches its climax. Ratsie plays the role of a Mmaago Mosa, a village single mum with two kids. Even though she didn’t graduate herself, she does everything for her kids.
Being a local actor and having struggled to finally make it outside the borders, Ratsie says the challenge facing the local industry is lack of financial support. “The support isn’t there yet where we wish it could be, but it’s getting better though. Batswana want to see first before investing, or sponsoring a production. And then this is a male dominated industry, so at times as a woman some will doubt you because you always have to face them and it’s even more interesting,” she said.
Like many local actors, Motso, as she is passionately called, started acting in school plays and traditional dance groups as a school girl. The young determined girl continued perfecting her craft in community theatre groups, before going professional and breaking into television. As a mother, daughter and socially conscious black woman who continues to defy odds, she is a strong believer in empowering and emancipating the girl child. As a Christian woman, her life is not only built around passion for the craft, but compassion for others.
In addition to her acting career, Motso has a knack for business administration and has studied Human Resource Development. On a social entrepreneurship front, she is part of collective that registered and runs an NGO that addresses issues of gender based violence. She is currently the CEO of the House Of Comfort PTY Ltd that is operational in Botswana.
BACKGROUND ON THE FESTIVAL
This year, Maitisong is proud to celebrate three decades of arts promotion, raising the professional bar in the creative industry, making careers and connecting Batswana artists with their international counterparts. In its 30 years running, Maitisong Festival is undoubtedly the biggest arts festival in Botswana. International and local artists bring theatre, music, dance, poetry and comedy to fee audiences in several venues around Gaborone.
The 2017 theme, Enrich, extends from 2016’s Engage and 2015’s Elevate. All the themes reflect the need to professionalize the arts by pushing the envelope and the bar higher, and ensuring that professionals work together and with audiences and sponsors to upgrade their game. The 2017 theme seeks to encourage artists to earn a decent living out of their talent, as is the case in other countries.
Maitisong Festival 2017 is scheduled for 1st – 11th April at various venues around Gaborone. With a varied and exciting line up of events, the Festival, once again, will bring brilliant home brewed and international shows to provide an unforgettable experience for the audiences. There will be free and paid events to ensure that everyone gets a piece of the action.
SNEAK PREVIEW OF PERFORMANCES
Artists from far and near join this ten-day, roller-coaster shindig. Billed to perform at this year’s festival are performers from Botswana and South Africa. The Festival Opening Night will be graced by international band Kgalagadi Soul; Botswana’s beloved four-string guitar master Sereetsi and the Natives, of the famous tunes Robete and Thaa Kokome, makes up one third of this band. He performs alongside Aus Tebza (ZA) and Mumba Yachie (ZM) on the Tuesday, 4th April at 7:30pm at Maitisong. Admission is P200, inclusive of refreshments.
Hailing from Limpopo province in South Africa, Generations actor Moses D. Rasekele is bringing a double bill to the Maitisong Festival. The two theatre performances, Nasty Burn and 2-Late, promise to be nothing but the best. In comedy, Soweto Comedy Festival battles it out with Botswana’s funniest. Chris Mapane and Tumi Stopnonsons are back again to face off with Botswana’s rising, comedy star Bambino, the legendary MOD, Rib Cracker, and the new, funny kid on the block Johnny. They will crack ribs on Friday, 7th April at 7:30pm and admission is only P150.
Mandy Promotions brings back A Day before Execution while The Company@Maitisong extends Barclays Madi Majwana to those who missed the recent launch and tour. At Stanbic Bank Piazza, expect Socca Moruakgomo’s acclaimed musical Moratiwa and the internationally renowned, one man show from Cape Town titled, Pay for the Curry on Tuesday, 11th April.
Avani Hotel & Casino will host the third annual Fashion without Borders on Thursday 6th and Friday 7th April. In addition to screenings, readings and workshops, lovers of spoken word will be treated to a Poetry Slam and an Acoustic Café at Dros, featuring the best of local poetry. The flagship Old Naledi Outdoor Music Show promises to be bigger and better. Supported by the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture annually, this concert will come at a later stage and will extend beyond Gaborone this time around.
This book is a true-life story of an African King based in South Africa. The Last Frontier is a resistance stand by Bakgatla Ba Kgafela tribe and its line of Kings from 1885 against a dark force called ‘western democracy’ that is insidiously destroying lives, peoples, nations and threatens to wipe away whole civilizations in Africa.
The story flows through four important episodes of history, beginning in about 1885 when Bechuanaland Protectorate was formed. This section briefly reveals interactions between Kgosi Linchwe 1 and the British Colonial Government, leading to the establishment of Bakgatla Reserve by Proclamations of 1899 – 1904.
The second episode deals with Kgosi Molefi’s interaction with the British Colonial Government in the period of 1929-36. The third episode records Kgosi Linchwe II’s interactions with the British Colonial Government and black elites of Bechuanaland. It covers the period of 1964-66, leading to Botswana’s independence. Kgosi Linchwe ii resisted the unlawful expropriation of his country (Bakgatla Reserve) by Sir Seretse Kgama’s government of 1966 to no avail. He wrote letters of objection (December 1965) to Her Majesty the Queen of England, which are reproduced in this book.
The fourth episode covers the period between Kgafela Kgafela II’s crowning as King of Bakgatla in 2008 to 2021. It is a drama of the author’s resistance to the present-day Botswana Government, a continuation of Bakgatla Kings’ objection against losing Bakgatla country to the Kgama dynasty assisted by the British Government since 1885. The story is told with reference to authentic letters, documents, and Court records generated during the period of 1885-2019. There is plenty of education in history, law, and politics contained in The Last Frontier for everyone to learn something and enjoy.
Hailed for being the prime gospel concert after the Covid-19 pandemic had put events to a halt, Golden Relic, in conjunction with Sweet Brands, recently unveiled the Arise and Worship Concert, Botswana. The show marks the return of worshippers and fans to enjoy music and worship together after what seemed like “cooler box” events were taking over the entertainment scene.
The concert to be held on December 11th 2021, at the Molapo Showcase, has a packed lineup with the Headlining acts being Bishop Benjamin Dube, Lebo Sekgobela from South Africa and Botswana’s very own Obakeng Sengwaketse. More international acts from Nigeria and Ghana are also expected to grace the event. The show organizers have invested an effort in diversifying the lineup with live performances.
The promoter of the Arise and Worship Concert, David “DVD” Abram revealed in an overview of the event that; “We have lost a lot of loved ones this year, and when that happens, one’s spirit goes down, and we need a light to ground us once more, to heal our souls. Therefore, the two main purposes of this event are to do the work of God and, secondly, to make sure that we nurture and develop talent in Botswana. With challenges that come up with events of such magnitude, the team and I have been committed to seeking guidance from God through having night prayers.”
Abram added that as promoters, they usually have a bias towards already established artists, thus neglecting the upcoming ones and wanting to change that. “We approached the Melody Gospel TV Show since we aim at nurturing new talent and agreed on having one of the winners as a headliner for the event to allow them to share the stage with gospel giants so that they are exposed to the industry. This resulted in securing the Second Winner of the Melody Gospel TV show; Thabiso Mafoko as a local headlining act.”
The concert also aims at celebrating a Motswana. Multi-Award Winner; with the most recent title; BOMU Best Traditional Gospel under his belt, also best known for his soulful voice and heartfelt lyrics, Obakeng Sengwaketse enthusiastically said, “I want to thank the organizers of the Arise and Worship concert, it means a lot to me after recently winning two awards that are currently the highlight of my career.
I regard this as a great revival because the Covid-19 pandemic has muffled events such as this. I am looking forward to sharing the stage with the great Bishop Benjamin Dube, Lebo Sekgobela and more artists from Nigeria and Ghana. Sengwaketsi urged Batswana to come and witness the greatness of the Lord as their lives will never be the same.”
Tickets are selling like fat cakes with VVIP tickets having only five tickets remaining; the VVIP tickets include rounder access backstage to all the performing artists. The event will also comprise a seated Gold Circle Ticket, which accounts for 50% of revellers to allow for easier enforcement of COVID-19 protocols and avoid a potential stampede.
In a bid to entice merrymakers to buy tickets, the promoters have come up with a layby strategy and buying tickets on an instalment basis for the attendees to be able to buy their tickets since the COVID-19 Pandemic has left many Batswana in financial ruin but having the interest to attend the event.
One can only imagine what is like being in the public eye. It is not a walk in the park; and not as easy as people might think it is because of the pressure from the public. Celebrities or influencers are perceived to be perfect, perfect bodies, perfect families, perfect parents, financially stable, healthy, and always smiling and patient with everyone – Is this for real?
However, when people’s expectations of celebrities are not met, the same celebrities are often victimized, body shamed, or blamed, fairly or unfairly. As a result of them not having a personal life, they are often scrutinized in all aspects of their lives; their lives are aired for the public to see and judge. Celebrities are often extra careful about everything that they do, they have to go an extra mile as compared to how ordinary people live their lives.
To understanding this experiences by public figures, this reporter made a case study of Mr Lizibo Gran Mabutho, the firstborn in his family with only one sibling, his younger brother. Lizibo describes himself as a simple Kalanga guy who was chosen by music and did not choose music.
He said being raised by his mother and grandmother, he grew up surrounded by music from birth. Lizibo said his grandmother was a religious person who held church services at their house in Zwenshambe, “for me singing was from Monday to Sunday. I was not like any ordinary child who only sang at church on Sundays or sometimes in school assembly, for me it was a daily thing. My mother was also a talented dancer in our village that is what I mean when I say I did not choose music, but music chose me.”
Lizibo said though he grew up surrounded by music, it was hard for his parents to accept the path he has chosen to be a musician. Lizibo said he had to prove to his parents that music was his passion and that it could pay the bills like any other profession. He said eventually they saw his passion for music and supported him.
Lizibo said being exposed to music from a tender age made him venture into the music career from a tender age. He said he was part of the Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete (KTM) choir, Lizibo said being in the public eye for the longest time has taught him that he is living for the people and that he does not have a life. He said the very society that is watching him has so much expectation for him and that means he has to conduct himself in a good manner because people are looking up to him.
Lizibo said he understands the saying that great power comes with great responsibility, “when people see me, they see a role model. I realize and understand that people are and have been modelling me even when I was not aware of it, I know of six mothers who have named their sons after me because they felt that I inspire them somehow.”
He said he has accepted his fate that he will never have a normal life because people are looking unto him. He said he is grateful to be in the public on a positive note by bringing hope to the people because he has always wanted to be part of people’s solutions and not their problems.
He said, “people should understand that our careers are our calling. One needs to be spiritually connected to their calling as an artist. The most rewarding part about being in the public for me is not about payment but about being the solution to someone’s problem.”
Lizibo said the greatest challenge that he has ever faced about being in the public eye has been the issue of trust, not able to know which friends are genuine and which ones are not. He said as a way of avoiding fake friends he has always kept his four close friends who have been there for him through thick and thin. Lizibo said being close to his family has also helped him as they have been his strength when things were not going well for him, “most of the time people say we change when we taste fame. That is not necessarily true because people are the ones who changed when we became famous. People always want something from us, nothing is ever genuine with people and that is why I chose to keep my circle very small.”
Lizibo said as much as he travels a lot because of the nature of his work because it is naturally demanding, he said he always ensures that he creates time for his family. He said that at home he is Lizibo who is sent to do errands, he is Lizibo the son, not a celebrity.
He said there is a lot of pressure that comes with being in the spotlight, “the public puts so much pressure on us mostly about the material lifestyle they portray us to have. We are often compared with South African celebrities, but people fail to understand that we are two different countries. Most people fell into the trap and are living above their means resulting in them living in debt. I often tell youngsters not to fall into that trap of being tempted to live life above their means.”
The advice Lizibo gave to upcoming celebrities was that they should know that being in the public is not about them, but it is about the people. He said, “one of my mentors once asked me if I make music about myself or the people. He said I need to make music for the people because it is my responsibility to feed them with what they need, he said they might not even be able to know that they have a need but that I need to identify that need and meet it. Our responsibility is to serve people what they need, our music is to feed people’s hunger. My music is about love, I feed people love.”
Lizibo said it is important for celebrities to seek counselling and take care of their mental health, he said he has been investing in his mental health for years because he understands the importance of mental health especially when one is in the public.