Billy Obonye graces our television screens every Mondays at 2030hrs, as gangster Lemphizzy on the popular BTV drama series Ntwakgolo.
The passionate actor is one of a few theatre actors whose transitioning from stage to the small screen has proved to be a worthy step, especially in Botswana where both industries are relatively small. Born in Selibe Phikwe in the early 80s, ‘Lemphizzy’ as he is popularly now called related to WeekendLife this week that acting for the Dee Zone productions’ drama series has literally changed his life.
“I was unfortunate to have ended my schooling with only a JC. Life was very hard then, the year I wrote my JC exams was the very same year we lost our mother, which I believe was the reason for my not doing well.” His aunt was their caretaker with his 3 other siblings, him being the second born. But his eldest sister soon passed away too, and he was left with only his younger brothers to fend for.
“In 2001, I had a son. Life became more complicated as pressure to find work to provide for all of them started to build up.” He has always had a passion for acting and wanted to follow his dream, but his aunt, who stayed with them constantly, reminded him to stop dreaming and get a job for provide for his son and younger brothers.
“All I really wanted to do was act. I wanted to attend all my Moitelasilo (drama group in Phikwe) rehearsals but I was constantly reminded that that would not put food on the table. And with only a Junior Certificate I could not even find a decent job. I would get contractual jobs at the mine for 6 or so months sometimes,” he said.
His acting talent was nurtured from primary school where he acted on school plays, continuing to junior secondary school where he was in the drama group. From there he started Moitelasilo with other fellow actors in Phikwe. “I moved to Phikwe Theatre, which was bigger than Moitelasilo after they spotted me during the president’s competitions in 2011. That is where I would audition for Ntwakgolo in 2014 when auditions were being held in Phikwe.”
Today, the talented actor says that he has no problems taking care of his own and has even added on to his skill. “When I first started acting, I didn’t just do my part and fold my arms. I was no Denzel Washington, so I would do other small jobs on set; like lighting, carrying equipment.”
In 2015, he had learnt so much that he started operating the camera on his own. “Thabiso Maretlwaneng gave me a chance, when Ntwakgolo wasn’t on air, he let me even shoot Pula Power. I would just go with the presenter(s) and just shoot. ” “I am now Assistant Director for Ntwakgolo, other than that, I did part of the casting for Season two and even trained some of the actors. This is a job done mostly by people who have degrees in TV and film production,” the passionate actor said.
More than anything, Obonye comes across as humble, kind and very loving, unlike the character he plays on TV. “ “I don’t believe that there are jobs that were made for certain people; they were made for all of us, it is upon each and every one of us to push and make things happen for ourselves,” he said.
Looking back, he has no regrets and says he would choose to disregard his aunt’s advice again. His aunt had wanted him to repeat his JC and eventually pursue his education and get a ‘proper job.’ “I didn’t think then that repeating or going back to school would bring any changes to my life. I wanted to pursue acting as a career, and now I am able to take care of my younger siblings. I am now a father of 3, my eldest son is doing form 3 and I am able to pay for his studies without a problem, and my other two daughters are being well taken care of.”
Ntwakgolo is a TV Drama series focusing on HIV and AIDS themed issues. The drama is a chronicle of the lives of people living in a community, how they intercept, relate and behave towards each other in regard towards the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Ntwakgolo broadcast 52 episodes weekly on BTV between 2014 and 2015 under NACA Funding and has become the most popular television drama nationwide.
In season two of Ntwakgolo, which was shot in Selibe Phikwe, Lemphizzy and Lingas have fled Gaborone to establish their bad business in Phikwe, but there is a twist of events when competition arrives in the form of former partner in crime, Sekhokho.
William Last KRM was offended after he failed to go home with a single award from the Yarona FM Music Awards (YAMAs), to the extent that he put all his frustrations into his new song. The new song, dubbed Heavenly Sent, features songbird Mpho Sebina, and it is already making rotations on social media and radio stations.
On YouTube, Motsetserepa uploaded the song on his channel that has precisely 217 000 subscribers. Heavenly Sent, the new melody, has over 170 thousand views already. The young comedian-turned musician, Motsetserepa dominated the 7th YAMAs but failed to snatch a single award. He was nominated for People’s Choice Artist of the Year, Best Male Single, Best Hip-Hop, Best Social Media and Song of the year. He was the most nominated with Han C. The cover of the new single shows that William Last has won a Grammy Award. Grammy Awards are the United States’ biggest music awards, held annually, to recognize achievement in the music industry.
Perhaps William Last is trying to communicate that he is bigger than the YAMAs. The cover says, “William Last won a Grammy. Congratulations.” The introduction of the video starts with Trevor Noah, a South African comedian and television host who lives in the US, introducing the last award category of the night at the Grammy Awards. The category was Best Rap Song, and William Last’s Tinto was nominated alongside Drake, Roddy Ricch, Lil Baby and Da Baby. The winner was Motsetserepa with his hit Tinto.
After standing ovation from American entertainment industry leaders in his acceptance speech, William Last said, “Thank you so much. It is indeed an honour to be here with you guys. I want to celebrate this award with you, but I want to communicate something really important.” However, the crowd laughed instead, and William Last shouted “stop”. His mood changed and became blue, and Mpho Sebina’s melodic voice appeared in the background.
“I have been telling God that everything is going to be all right. Please don’t get so hopeless long as you make sure I survive. Yeah…yeah, been through hell and back, I’m talking stress to a point ke tima phone when people call don’t wanna answer I hear voices inside of my head, ke bona mewa e mabitleng A batla go raba mathata dingaka e kgarakgatshega ekare malwetse (go siame gale) All these people they ain’t scared when they see me mad I might just snap though I ain’t sending threats Kgale ke bua kopa le ntheetse.”
In this chorus line, William Last talks about how he has been suffering to a point where he avoided contact with people at all costs. He says he has been trying to converse. Therefore people should pin their ears back. He also expresses how he has been taken for granted by a circle of folks who perceive him as a mental case. Some people, he writes in the song, don’t have time for him as if he is impractical to them.
“Buisa phuthego oe tsena botoro Baba lopela ka dipono Nna ke bua ba mpona boroko eish…Ba mpona setomo Bare Motsetserepa gare batle o’ dlala we ain’t got time for you dawg I’m just hoping I don’t flop, like a flip flop Know they hoping that I fall, what for?” Motsetserepa has strong faith that he is heaven-sent and an inspiration to the children of many of the people who bring him down. He considers that his haters are influenced by ego.
“Some of your kids they look up to me, they look up to me. They calling me names, they calling me G, bare ke podi. Some of you guys get killed by ego. Why the hell can’t you just be humble? That’s why your life is too stressful. When you see me in the streets, call me Tinto Once said I’m a do it again, did it again I am a man amongst all man. I’m heavenly sent.”
Once again, Hanceford Magapatona emerged the biggest winner with ease at the 7th Yarona FM Music Awards (YAMAs) this past weekend. Famously known as Han C in the music industry, the 27-year old self-taught singer and songwriter snatched the titles of YAMAs People’s Choice Artist of the Year and Best Male single for his all-time hit ‘Padi padi’.
Han C did not go home empty-handed as there were good monies for each category, courtesy of First National Bank Botswana, Mascom and Now TV. The two prestigious awards earned him P60 000 and P25 000 each, making him the biggest winner of the night. After being announced as the winner under the Best Male Single, Han C took to social media to express his serenity about the achievements. He said, “words cannot explain how I feel right now, but all I can say is thank you much to the people who have been showing us love and support.
Special shout out to Yarona FM for giving us this platform to showcase our talents and creativity. I also would love to give a special shout out to all the sponsors for making this happen. We appreciate all of you.” When getting his People’s Choice Artist of the Year award, Han C showed deference to artists nominated with him under this category. Even though they could not go home with the prize, Mahalapye-born acknowledged that they are equally artistic. “Getting a nomination for this award is quite an achievement on its own, mainly because you are nominated alongside brilliant, amazing good artists—a special shout out to my team. We put in the work; I think we should continue doing so.
PREVIOUS AWARDS NOMINATIONS
Han C’s hard work and dedication have garnered him recognition in the local scenes. And it would look suspicious if he didn’t get an accolade or two. In 2018, he was nominated YAMAs Artist of the Year, Best Male Artist, and Song of the Year (Mafurafura), Best Collabo (Mafurafura) and Best Dance Single (Mafurafura). In 2016, he was nominated for Song of the Year (SediLaaka) and Best Collaboration (SediLaaka). He won Best New Artist in 2016, Artist of the Year (2018) and Best Dance Single 2018.
MOTSETSEREPA LOSES ALL NOMINATIONS
Local comedian-turned musician Bofelo William Molebatsi, known as William KRM Last saw dust at the recently held 7th YAMAs. After being the most nominated artist, William Last did not go home with any of his nominated awards. He was nominated under: People’s Choice Award of the Year category, won by Han C, Song of the Year taken home by La Tonde and Names, Best Male Single (Han C), Best Hip-hop (snatched by Ozi F Teddy) as well as Best Social Media (Mjamaica).
He, however, took to social media to share the devastating news, which came as a slapping blow right on his face. “Wow! Whenever I think of the huge success of my Amara Willian album, I always cry happy tears. I celebrate and thank God for where he has brought me to with all this big brand success. This is especially through the greatest love from my supporters/fans all over. They are a million followers of my brand and the views that I always get on my daily posts all over my social media platforms. These big numbers scream love and appreciation to me so loud. I appreciate the love and support; God bless.”
OTHER YAMAS 2021 WINNERS
Peoples’ Choice Song of the year was awarded La Tonde and Names for their song ‘Dibulele’. YAMAs 2021 Inductee to the Yarona FM Hall Of Fame was the late Sasa Klaas. Sasa Klaas died in a helicopter crash on March 5th 2021, near Sojwe. She was an all-around musician mostly known for her hip-hop culture.
Producer of the year was snatched by MB on the Beat, while Boipelo Seleke scooped the YAMAs 2021 Icon award. Seleke went home with P25 000 while MB on the Beat only earned himself P10 000. The new Mokaragana hostess Girly left the YAMAs as the new awardee of Best Female Single for her song ‘BMW’. Best Amapiano went to Deejay Bino’s ‘Touch’ featuring the late Sasa Klaas, Rasun and Da QuTness.
Further, Lloyd BW and Priscilla K’s ‘Have You Ever’ won Best Dance Single, while Best Collaboration was won by FlyBoi Que featuring Jordan MoOzy and FME Luther October on their hit ‘Ndeya’. Ozi F Teddy also made a debut appearance of the YAMAs nominations and snatched Best Hip Hop for his song ‘Negotiate’, where he features Murda.
Almost every year, Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) attracts hullabaloo over its annual music awards. This time around, it was not only that. There has been much noise around compliance, Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development involvement in the affairs of this organisation, as well as the contentious sponsorship from the Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS).
Following a four-year hiatus, BOMU awards found themselves being the talk of the town due to unfair practices some artists claim clouded the non-complying organisation. These are serious accusations that BOMU has since rubbished as deliberate actions intended to tarnish its reputation.
Some disgruntled artists recently took to the streets to protest against these practices. However, these are not subscribing members of BOMU. Before being cut short by the Police, these artists demanded that the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development Tumiso Rakgare step down immediately. They claim that Rakgare has failed his mandate.
On the other hand, they demanded that the Youth Ministry reverse the P500 000 it has splashed on the BOMU awards, and the money be split among artists. A lead protester in these activities, Rhumba artist General Tuco, told Weekendlife that BOMU management should halt the awards and instead clean the organisation’s dirty laundry.
He further indicated that they would be dropping a petition at the DBS offices, urging the group to revoke the P1.5 million sponsorship it has awarded BOMU. Because these discontented artists claim that BOMU is non-compliant, they will also be marching to the Registrar of Societies to express their grievances.
In an interview this week, General Tuco said they are still engaging their attorney to formalise their protest and give them a way forward. The Police deny them a permit to hold their rally. According to information gathered last week, the artists were arrested and released the same day and asked to apply for a protest permit.
BOMU PRESIDENT SPEAKS
BOMU President Phemelo Lesokwane told a media member on Wednesday that “We have seen people on social media dragging our name on the mud as BOMU. They say we are non-compliant, corrupt and unfair. When we get to see who these people are, they are not our members. They call themselves artists, but as legalised agents of artists in Botswana, we do not know them, neither do we know what they are talking about. We condemn these acts.”
Lesokwane rubbished allegations that BOMU is not compliant. “We see journalists giving these guys who masquerade as artists more prime time for them to tarnish our name. But they do not have the evidence. BOMU is compliant, and we have all the documents. We also have verified documents from the Registrar of Societies, who are our key stakeholders.”
Talking about being backbitten, Lesokwane claims that government officials from the Registrar of Societies are promoting what unregistered artists are making noise about in the corridors. Some of these officers fed the Youth Minister Rakgare wrong information about BOMU. BOMU has much work to do in-house.
Further, Lesokwane revealed that when they took over the office, BOMU was mugged some of its finances. Investigations are ongoing to retrieve such monies, he said. As if that is not enough cleaning, Lesokwane has a headache dealing with another faction dubbed BW Artists, which represents artists in the Northside of the country.
“If you could look into the management of this organisation, you would question their interests. Two of them are politicians. Once they fail primary elections, they come back into the music industry and cause chaos. I always say I am going to fight with everything I have together with my team to make sure that we protect artists in Botswana.”
JOURNALISTS FINGERED IN THE BOMU MESS
BOMU President Lesokwane has accused journalists of being biased and unfair to his organisation. He stressed that BOMU depends on members of the press to help rebuild the dying Botswana music industry. “Most articles about our artists speak negatively about them. Foreign artists are always given priority instead of our local artists, but we value journalists as our equally significant stakeholders. We can grow this industry together.”
These media reports, Lesokwane said, have forced stakeholders to withdraw their sponsorships towards the BOMU awards, slated for October 2021. At times they are required to answer for hearsays that are not accurate. He reiterated that BOMU has nothing to hide as it is compliant.
BOMU MUSIC AWARDS CONSULTANT SPEAKS
BOMU Music Awards Consultant Seabelo Modibe has been topping the charts for a long good time. His appointment as a consultant was notorious as critics felt his company was relatively premature at the time of appointment.
He joined the BOMU get-together at the time the awards were still distressed by the hubbub. Many asked if he would manage the heat, but clearly, Modibe is having a hard time. He, however, stressed that BOMU is open to criticism.
“Lot of people say BOMU has been given money to waste. That is not precise. It has sold its product, its broadcasting rights. They were sold for P1.5 million to the DBS. Our contract is for a year, and we will be going back to them in December. MYSC has acquired what we call commercial rights. These are rights that someone buys to promote their mandate. MYSC seeks to promote local music using BOMU awards.”