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.
Botswana once had a story love affair with the world’s biggest premium beauty pageant, Miss Universe. This was in 1999 when Botswana’s first representative at Miss Universe, Mpule Kwelagobe, effortlessly snatched the title.
It was every contestant’s beautiful dream to wear the crown, but winning at first entry was implausible if not magical. Kwelagobe made the country contented, and history was made. Taking a closure significant look at her performance at the Miss Universe held at the Chaguaramas Convention Centre in Chaguaramas, Trinidad and Tobago, Kwelagobe battled it out on and off stage with 84 contestants and showed them dust. She was in the Top 5 spot with South Africa, Venezuela, Philippines and Spain. There are countries which snatch the Miss Universe title every year.
Miss Universe 2019 was a South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi. Mpule Kwelagobe scorecard looked pretty remarkable. She scored 9.05 out of 10 on her interviews, 9.18 swimsuit, 9.36 evening gown, semi-final average 9.19 and 9.48 on the Top 5 question. These results were good enough to earn her the crown.
However, over the years (since the crowning of Mpule Kwelagobe), Botswana has been fading away from participating at the Miss Universe. Between 2002 and 2003, the country did not participate in Miss Universe but in 2004, the country sent a winning title of Miss Universe Botswana to Ecuador, Miss Universe 2004.
In 2010, Mos Syde Worldwide Entertainment Group: an international entertainment and fashion company domiciled in Botswana took over the Miss Universe Botswana pageant after a six-year absence. Tirelo Ramasedi was crowned Miss Universe Botswana 2010, and represented the country in Las Vegas on August 23. As it is right now, Ramasedi is the only former Miss Universe queen still keen in having her name shine out there: she works closely on projects aimed at empowering women and young girls.
Sadly so, 2013 was the last time Botswana participated in Miss Universe. After five years of not participating at Miss Universe pageant, the first Miss Universe Botswana Mpule Kwelagobe took over the franchise. The winner selection of Miss Universe Botswana 2019 was to remark Botswana to Miss Universe 2019, however, was cancelled.
2019 marked another possible six years since Botswana lacked participation in Miss Universe. This drastic zero participation in this premium beauty competition paved way for our neighbours South Africa to sail smoothly at the competition. Zozibini Tunzi became an instant global queen and everyone’s favourite after displaying intelligence, poise and taking up space to be crowned Miss Universe 2019.
The pageant was not held in 2020 due to COVID-19. This will be the third time in the history of the competition in which the event will be held after the calendar year has ended: this previously occurred during Miss Universe 2014 and Miss Universe 2016 (in which Botswana was not participating).
Miss Universe Organization announced early this year that the competition would be held on May 16 2021, at Seminole Hard rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, United States. Zozibini Tunzi will crown her successor at this competition.
Botswana, will not be participating at the Miss Universe 2020, again. The weakening Miss Universe Botswana has been attributed to by internal fights within the organization. But why participate at Miss Universe?
The Miss Universe Organization is a global, inclusive organization that celebrates women of all cultures and backgrounds and empowers them to realize their goals through experiences that build self-confidence and create opportunities for success.
Women participate annually to affect positive change personally, professionally and philanthropically as inspirational leaders and role models. The delegates and titleholders that have participated in the MUO system are able to cultivate their personal, professional and philanthropic goals. These women are forward thinking and motivated not just talk about change, but to initiate it.
Prominent beauty pageants analyst in Botswana Morekolodi Smith took Weekendlife in an exclusive interview that it has been so many years of absence from participating at Miss Universe, and this shows that Botswana lacks consistency and commitment.
“The franchise holders fail to host a national pageant. I think they should hand over the license to Miss Botswana Organization because it hosts the pageant annually. Then the winner gets to participate in both Miss World and Miss Universe. They can maybe crown two representatives. Botswana has faded away from Miss Universe platform and fans have forgotten about it,” he said in an interview on Thursday.
Pranks, for a common man, is designated to the 1st of April- April fool’s day. Usually it’s the only day out of the entire 365 days one can make a fool of others and get away with practically anything, anything legal that is.
While there are fanatics who do it for amusement, there are some who do it to earn their daily bread and butter. Some obviously saw a niche to keep people fascinated especially in these emotionally straining times of COVID-19. For the record, they don’t play ordinary cards as you may think.
Their pranks are as big and as real as marriage wrecking and all the drama that comes along with it. Given Carter is not just your ordinary boy next door. The Tonota born prankster is currently taking the entire country on an emotional rollercoaster from the comfort of his home in Francistown.
At only 32-years, Carter BW’s skills of planning and executing a prank is what sets him apart from the rest. In fact one can go as far as to say that he’s the only prankster Batswana know.His ideas are unique and relevant, telling a tale that someone can sit and think about, perhaps learn from it because they are everyday life happenings that most people can relate to because they have a way of really hitting home.
In an exclusive interview with WeekendLife, the versatile Given Carter (who is also a photographer) says the inspiration behind pranking was to introduce something not so common in Botswana, and challenge typecasts associated with art, especially modern art.
“Growing up, we only saw pranks on the television dominantly done by the whites. We never thought this is something we can do, or maybe we didn’t understand the logic behind it. But I guess, pranks are real life lessons we need, its only that they are shared in a more hilarious and sometimes obstinate way,” he said.
Given Carter told this publication that, he spends most of his time on the internet, learning more tricky skills. This is quite a remarkable observation because in this era of advanced technology, one doesn’t necessarily have to go to school to learn from the grassroot. The use of technology has made it easier for people to acquire skills and knowledge, and still do exceptionally well without being in class.
“Of course, a bit of it is common sense but I make use of the internet to learn more on how I can improve my craft. It is quite unpretentious to do a prank because they are real-life situations, so its not much of a big deal. I needed people to learn and I think I came at the right time because most people are online, and the reception is just incredible.”
He however shed light on his first video shot in Shakawe that went viral, subsequently leading to speculations of his crew’s arrest. Given Carter was however not arrested instead he was brought before the police for questioning.
“We were not arrested as people may think. We were called to write statements on what the prank was all about and we were released the same day. I believe maybe we went too far in what we depicted in the video because it’s something that the society is not yet ready to accept, but it has been happening for a long time,” he told WeekendLife.
In many Western countries, pranksters do this for a living through YouTube accounts and subscriptions. “As it is currently, I do not have a YouTube channel. I am still building a platform and I’m certain very soon it will be up and running. I am primarily focused on taking my craft to the people, and let people know more about what I do. So technically, it has been about familiarising people with the art.”
Even though that’s the case, Given Carter says there is room for paid partnerships and endorsements. After all, there is an entire crew which need money to pay the bills. He says with so much ideas spinning in his head, there is need for financial support to be able to dish out more seeing that people love his works and how realistic his pranks are.
Odirile Sento, popularly known as Vee together with Magadeline Lesolobe (Charma Gal) took the liberty of playing as big of a part as they could to consolidate some resources for musicians which might be of assistance during these trying times.
In these unprecedented times of the overwhelming and the deadly COVID-19, it is only critical that people stand together and remain committed to helping each other, being kind enough to lend a helping hand in any way possible.
The contagious virus left people confounded, deprived and depressed. The pandemic shuttered many economies, industries and the entertainment sector was no exemption. If anything, the entertainment industry took the biggest hit of all the sectors but this was a hit felt in every country in the world not just a local tragedy.
There were tear-jerking testimonies of creatives, in particular artists, suffering from extreme hunger as events were given a rain check. Technically, social events have been shut for sixteen months now.
There were series of protests calling for the immediate opening of the creative sector, in a phased manner. Some brave yet unfortunate artists were arrested for taking up arms and protesting the strict COVID-19 regulations placed on the entertainment sector.
When protests failed and their laments falling on government’s usual deaf ears, prominent artists Odirile Sento, popularly known as Vee together with Magadeline Lesolobe (Charma Gal) took the liberty of playing as big of a part as they could to consolidate some resources for musicians which might be of assistance during these trying times.
COVID-19 has created untold challenges for musicians in Botswana, but there are possibilities- challenges have a way of breeding solutions nonetheless.
In an exclusive interview with WeekendLife on Wednesday, Vee said the Battle to Develop Artists Welfare is aimed at inspiring artists to learn diversification, which has been lacking for quite a stretch amongst fellow artists. A lot of local artists depend solely on music, which on its own has been performing below par, and COVID-19 has brought that into clear view, showing how most artists in Botswana live off scraps, barely making money off their beloved passion- music.
“This project was born out of compassion. The world as it is now is experiencing a rough patch, and you can imagine how other artists are coping. It is really a struggle, and we saw it critical to jump on-board and help our fellow colleagues. It will help artists start small businesses, some will start short courses which will enable them to find employment in the long run.
For it to have weight, we incorporated it into a challenge on stage, performing our songs. We hope this will inspire business moguls to sponsor and pledge some monies towards this initiative,” said Vee.
Charma gal indicated that the live battle on stage has been supported with musical instruments, further indicating that this is a volunteerism project with no proceeds to gain from.
“We will divide and disburse proceeds to our fellow artists, I mean these are people we have been working alongside for so many years. There is no how we can be reckless towards them when we see how hard the situation is.
We are in this together, and we are going to stick together like that. Some have started already doing something, and meeting them half way is only fundamental,” Charma Gal told WeekendLife.
The duo stressed that Gaborone North Member of Parliament, Mpho Balopi, has pledged P50 000 towards this battle, further calling on other businessmen to come to the party. Vee says Balopi supported the initiative from the get-go, brushing aside allegations that the project is politically influenced.
Initiatives brought forward to aid the entertainment sector have caused controversy, with Vee emphasizing that not all artists will benefit from this particular charity cause. “We have artists who are struggling, and sadly so. Some of them were bread winners and there is no income coming in, making it hard for them to cope with the economic challenges.
There has been an increase in VAT recently, and such developments make the situation worse. Rigorous assessments will be done to identify our desired beneficiaries.”
Vee and Charma Gal will be battling it out on stage with the battle scheduled to take place on the 28th May 2021. Because events are still striped, the show will be online with COVID-19 protocols to be adhered to.