In yet another captivating performance, local theatre group, Mophato Dance Theatre put up a convincingly emotional and thought provoking performance of Borwa when they took to the stage on Wednesday evening to close the year at Mantlwaneng theatre at Westwood.
It has been quite a rare year for art lovers, theatre particularly. Watching the play, my mind was relayed to a couple of months back when I watched yet another scintillating performance by Limkokwing students in the play, Moratiwa. Both productions drive messages of relevance and adhere to the highest levels of theatre production with music as the core.
Moratiwa which was coordinated by legendary Jazz artist and saxophonist, Socca Moruakgomo, is an African Tragedy, a musical play which narrates the story of a young girl called Gaone Matlapeng, who went missing and was believed to have been sacrificed.
The story featured an electrifying vocal performance of Fisher Siblings; Shugie, Bonny and Lifi who take to the stage in a celebratory mood while the band seamlessly links the first song to the second song called Celebration. The song speaks of the journey that Botswana has gone through since its independence in 1966. The narration of the story and the music blended along well until the last act where the group presented different types of traditional dances in Botswana.
As for Mophato, they did present almost the same choreography; music is the basis of the production that lasted for almost one hour and a half. The award winning group is well known for their excellence in choreography and have performed in almost every corporate event locally. Borwa which translates to ‘South’ won the Makgadikgadi Theatre challenge.
Choreographed and directed by Andrew Letso Kola and Kalima Mipata, Borwa is a chilling yet captivating untold story of the people of the south, back in the 1960s when our grandfathers left for the labour migrations in South Africa, a move which was perceived as a new rite of passage for men from the traditional initiatives of bogwera.
It challenges societies of Bakwena, Bangwaketse, Bakgatla, Batlokwa, Balete and sheds light on why the men of the south stopped going to initiations to work in the mines while their wives stayed to nurture their families. At that time societies were angered because of the rite of passage that killed many and gave opportunities to some in South Africa, leaving wives and children in desperate need. Borwa interrogates the impact on the societies before and after the labour migrates as families across the south still mourn their loved ones.
The group displayed exquisite choreography that they are usually known for, owning even the Zulu traditional dance that is associated with miners as well as the gumboot dance which is now associated with the Bakwena and some Bangwaketse locally and is known as phathisi. Setapa was also among the performances of the night which had many in the audience emotional.
The director, Kola said Mophato Dance Theatre has grown to become an unexpected powerhouse in the industry since its inception in 2009. The dance group has become the highest paid dance organisation that has created 23 occupations and more opportunities for the at- risk youth through capacity building projects that have been sponsored by the Ministry of Youth as well as American public affairs office.
Kola said building the arts industry will inevitably increase tourist visitation and spend in our country which will traffic Southern Africa to Botswana, diversifying skills and economy to contribute positively to the GDP of the country. According to arts.gov, in 2013, arts and cultural production contributed $704. 2 billion to the US economy, or 4. 23 percent of the GDP. The Arts and cultural sector employed 4. 7 million with wage and salary workers, earning $339 billion.
There is a growing unpleasant of artists who do not pitch for events they have been booked for; or simultaneously, there could be another development – false advertising – where artists’ names are used to draw large crowds.
Musicians and promoters in their mission to put bread on the table seem to have resorted to obscene means of securing their means. To many, this is tantamount to fraud and deception to gain an unfair advantage over their unsuspecting fans who swoon at the mention of their name, their presence and entire existence.
The month of May has just begun and bottomless grievances are pouring in of no show musicians at gigs they have been booked and paid for. Instead of leaving the crowd stunned by a spectacular show they are leaving revellers disappointed.
Exhibit A; This past weekend Eswatini’s DJ Uncle Waffles was scheduled to perform in Botswana. She never pitched up for the shows and continues to be silent on her lack of presence at the show. Exhibit B; Maphorisa, Kabza De Small and Sha Sha were all set to perform on 29 April at the Victoria Falls Carnival 10th Anniversary but did not arrive in Zambia for the gig.
In a statement released on Sunday 1 May, Victoria Falls Carnival organisers confirmed that flights and accommodation were organised for DJ Maphorisa, Kabza De Small and Sha Sha. The statement continued; “Confirmations were sent to them as agreed and emails were sent to them several times before, for some reason they did not show up at the airport on the day of travel…
Above and beyond we tried to communicate with the artists to change the date of performance but still we could not get hold of them despite all the effort and all means of communication from our side,” Organisers have demanded that the artists refund them the full booking fee and the payments made for flights and accommodation
“All three artists were paid in full and contractually bound to perform at the Carnival, and accommodated at every corner with their numerous flight and accommodation change requests.” Adds the statement. Exhibit C; South African artist Prince Benza’s passport was confiscated by the Deputy Sheriffs pending payment for damages on breach of contract.
He was scheduled to perform at Mogobane on the 31st of December at the Reflector Music Festival but did not appear as well. He nabbed when he came into the country for a separate event. The President of Botswana Entertainment Promoters Association (BEPA), Gilbert Seagile this week had his company; Gilbert Promotions registered in South Africa.
This puts him in an ideal spot to become an intermediary and help solve the feud between Botswana and South African artists and their no show at events. Seagile emphasized that it’s not only international artists that miss events but even the local artists have the same tendencies. He elaborated that reasons for artists not pitching up are many amongst them ; breach of contracts , promoters not paying deposits and some can be natural like artist testing positive for Covid-19.
The BEPA president also indicated that fly-by-night promoters are also a concern as they do not follow the BEPA Code of conduct, “BEPA members are well coordinated, they have the code of conduct which guides them to do things accordingly. The government is pushing for promoters to join BEPA they have already started refusing with permits when one is not a member of BEPA.” he emphasized
Seagile said that the association is in talks with the South African Music Promoters Association (SAMPA) to provide protection of Botswana Promoters that when artists miss shows they can be able to rope in their lawyers in South Africa through SAMPA and Botswana through BEPA to compensate for losses incurred as a result of this exploitation.
He said another way of dealing with this matter is for Promoters to issue a contract to the artist as currently the norm is that the artist produces the contract to the promoter so this solution can help the promoters to protect themselves.
In an interview with Weekendlife, Superintendent Tumediso of Urban Police Station enunciated that matters of no show artists are normally reported by the promoter who normally comes as the complainant. The matter is then taken forward taking into consideration the evidence, this will in turn assist in determining on whether the case is theft, obtaining by false pretence or fraud. When it is all said and done, revellers love musicians to hate them and hate them to love them. It is an unending toxic relationship which no one wants to pull away from.
As the creative industry is trying to resurface from the COVID-19 dust, the board chairperson of Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS), Bakalanga Mahoko, says the society is considering giving out relief funds to their members who have been hit hard by the COVID -19 induced restrictions. She noted that this will however depend on government’s response to their request for funds.
She told WeekendLife that the society has already written to government requesting funds. Once the request is approved, she says some of the funds will enable the society to embark on road shows across the country to sensitise the general public about COSBOTS. The road shows are designed to run for several weeks before the annual general meeting which is scheduled for May, 28th this year. Among other things, she says part of the money will be used as a relief fund for their members.
“As we are all aware, the industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 restrictions and some of our members were unable to raise money for their survival and that alone affected the industry. We anticipate that government will consider and approve our request and once it’s approved our members will smile all the way to the bank as their bank accounts will be credited by the COSBOTS,” she says.
She added that if things go according to plan, this will be the second time that their members would have been assisted through such an initiative. She said at the moment they have registered about 2800 members across the country and the board anticipates that the membership number will increase sharply.
“I am not yet in a better position to divulge the amount which each artist will be given because government has not yet responded to our request, but once that has been approved the society will announce,“ she says.
Mahoko was elected as the board chairperson sometime last year and has also been the first woman to lead such society which she described as “privileged”. “As many will recall, the society was in a mess and there were squabbles among members. There was also mismanagement of funds that resulted in the members, government as well as the public losing trust on the society and that dented badly the image of the society,” she says.
Mahoko further stated since she has been in office for more than a year, things now look much better and promising. The government gave the society a grant and that alone was a sign of trust from government. Recently COSBOTS distributed over P7 million as royalties.
With over 20 years in the business of publishing school books for both primary and high school schools as well as fuelling the imagination and guiding the soul of the youth. Collegium Education Publishers are continuing with their trailblazing mission by launching EBooks.
During the launch of the Ebooks platform recently, Naledi Ratsoma, Author and Founding Director of Collegium Botswana took the audience on a trip down memory lane. She disclosed that after falling out with a local publishing company, she established new ties with a publishing company in South Africa. “The adage don’t get mad, get even worked for us.
We decided we are going to get them, we are curriculum specialists we know what the curriculum is all about and what books should be to support the type of curriculum.” She said deep in thought. “The start-up was not easy, I was the general, manager, tea lady working from 6 am to 10pm. It was sheer determination and hard work that got the company going.
Today I feel honoured and excited, Collegium grew by leaps and bounds. Here we are today. Dare I call Collegium a success story? Yes I do, it is a resounding success story.” She uttered excitedly Looking into the future, Terrence Showa, Collegium CEO was tasked with only one job to do.
That job? Moving Collegium to digitization and joining the rest of the publishing world in transition towards the Fourth industrial revolution and a knowledge based economy. “Today I stay to you quite proud to be the first publisher in the country to launch the prescribed eBooks.” He said.
Showa mentioned; “I was told to come with a cheaper solution for government, after three years with meeting several Information Technology think tanks we came to the conclusion that Snapplify, gurus in providing eBooks and eLearning were in alignment with what we are looking for. Ebooks provide a simple solution for teachers, parents, students to use at their homes.
It will also be 30% cheaper for government to procure the books. An added benefit was the ability to give free content by Snapplify on the side of library service. ” He says the Ebook Platform has been fast tacked by the rural electrification program by government prioritizing the need to digitise books.
When speaking to the WeekendPost on the side after the event, Showa when questioned on matters of piracy which comes with the digital age, he enunciated that “as Collegium the failure of us to regulate the printing and photocopying of our books frustrates us daily. There are institutions who have committed to procuring photocopying machines to make copies of our books.
We are excited about eBooks because the licence procured when buying the book will run for only a year and will limit users to being able to photocopy and take screenshots of the books. One of the reasons Snapplify made sense to us is they know exactly what the challenges that come with digital platforms are. The content will only be downloadable into devices through a profile set up and limit the number of users on the site.”
For their presentation, Stephen Bestbier and Mark Seabrook from the Snapplify Team; the application is accessible everywhere with an offline feature to encourage data saving and reading offline, it is compatible with existing devices be it mobile, tablet and desktop. The simple library management functionality makes it easy to check out books and return them automatically to curb the ancient penalty of paying late return fees as well as avoiding d issues of lost book since it will be on an online platform.
The academic features include; a designated dyslexic friendly font, text to speech functionality, journal, bookmarks. The Elibrary provides for convenience as 24/7 access to learning, materials since the online library does not close like the traditional library. The support platform ‘teacha!’ also reliefs’ teachers in their work by building skills with accredited professional development courses and platform training.
Snapplify are leaders in Pan African educational technology with thousands of institutions across Africa with students and academic staff within the Snapplify ecosystem from primary schools to tertiary institutions.
Snapplify is the best eLearning solution with a comprehensive content catalogue with constant delivery and a proven track record of rolling out large government eLearning projects. Collegium’s vision has indeed come to pass to become market leaders in the provision of high quality teaching and learning materials for institutions in Botswana.