Back from Dallas, Texas in the United States where she was nominated for the African Muzik Magazine awards (AFRIMMA), Afro- Jazz sensation Nnunu Bolemo Ramogotsi reflects back on this highlight of her musical career, rubbing shoulders with African superstars and what it takes to bring home an AFRIMMA award, Writes DAVE BAAITSE.
When she dropped her 2012 marvellous and most decorated album ‘Mmasonoko,’ it surely catapulted her to stardom, making her one of the top voices of Jazz music in the country. Ramogotsi has sure strummed the right chords, eventually becoming a brand associate for the industry in the corporate world. She would later travel the world; Europe became her “second home” performing mostly in Sweden and Germany. Her 2016 AFRIMMA nomination came as no surprise to her, especially under the category Best Female Artist in Southern Africa-she instead saw it as yet another opportunity to conquer Africa and indeed the world through her music.
She just returned from the awards a few days ago, where she rubbed shoulders with the likes of Nigeria’s Davido, South Africa’s duo of Lira and Zonke to mention just a few. “These are the continent’s biggest awards which bring together African artists under one roof and I was very excited,” she said.
Ramogotsi is a versatile artist who has gone all out to explore her talent, she once featured Hip- Hop artist, Dramaboi in a song titled ‘A reyeng’. The song became an instant hit and featured in Dramaboi’s album which topped the charts. African Muzik Magazine Awards (AFRIMMA) is the sole award ceremony in the Diaspora that caters to all musical genres including but not limited to Afrobeats, Assiko, Bongo, Decale, Funana, Genge, Highlife, Kwaito, Lingala and Soukous.
The third edition of the AFRIMMAs which was held in October 15, 2016 was an explosive affair with preparations and consultations made early to make it a grand occasion. AFRIMMA is committed to writing the African music story on the world map. While Namibian, Chikune won the award for which she was also nominated, Ramogotsi in no way doubts her talent or her capability of bringing back such an award. In fact, she believes the reason Botswana has difficulty with winning at the awards which are on their third year running is because they lag behind in voting, and that this might be influenced by the small population.
Albeit returning without the award, Ramogotsi said she made a lot of contacts and she is looking forward to collaborating with many influential artists across Africa including the winner. Her nomination was guaranteed by her video of the song ‘Mmasonoko’ which was produced at a budget close to P 85, 000. She did not rule out the possibility of collaborating with big names more especially the Nigers who happen to dominate the African music industry.
According to Ramogotsi, to be nominated for the awards takes a lot of courage and hard work. A nominee’s music has to be taken under a vetting process, she said, adding that “one has to be influential and active in social media” and their music has to be of good quality. “The artist has to be consistent with her work and has to have done a lot of collaborations with other big names, ” she added and gave an example of Mafikizolo who have now taken a new approach to their music. Mafikizolo have now added a bit of Nigerian beats and tempo in their new songs.
While Ramogotsi said it is not easy breaking the ice as a jazz artist, she is happy that she has managed to break into the scene. Even though she did not disclose more, she is currently working with one of the big groups from Uganda on her upcoming album which might be released sometime next year. They met at the AFRIMMAs and the group is more interested in her music and they agreed to work together on collaborations. This was after they performed together in Galveston in Texas after the awards and her upcoming album looks to be nothing other than a magnum opus featuring some of Africa’s crème de la crème.
Ramogotsi is a member of The Women of Jazz, a trio band that consists of her, Kearoma Rantao and Punah Gabasiane- Molale. She is also a member of the Re Batswana Ensemble and has contributed a lot in the local music industry. She said the founders of AFRIMMA who once visited Botswana believe the country has a lot of talent and that there is a lot yet to be done. On their second edition, the awards honoured the country’s President, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama with a Transformational Leadership Award for his contribution in the arts industry.
“Personally as an artist, I think Botswana should affiliate to the AFRIMMA, those people like our music, more especially the traditional music. Other artists such as Vee who was nominated last year and again this year had the opportunity to perform at the AFRIMMA stage and they were impressed,” she said. She asserted that this, to her was an eye opener and called on local artists to come together and unite and work as a team to bring an AFRIMMA award home next year.
She also alluded to the fact that as artists, they have a lot of challenges and government should come to their rescue. Earlier this year when they met with Minister of Youth Sports and Culture, now Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng, he advised them to work together and form an arts council that will be the voice of artists. Olopeng warned them of forming a lot of associations that end up clashing and not serving their intended purpose.
Ramogotsi even suggested that the trouble with getting finances sorted when it comes to making trips across the world for awards like the AFRIMMAs would be easier dealt with, should there be a council formed as minister Olopeng advised. For her trip to the US, she managed to get sponsorship from Sprint Couriers for a return air ticket, but for meals and travelling within the US, she had to make ends meet.
After its initial outbreak with a cluster of pneumonia cases at a seafood, poultry and live wildlife market in Wuhan City, China, Covid-19 has spread rapidly across the globe. The virus has hammered economies worldwide and brought devastation to many.
On 16 September Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a church with thousands of members in various countries, held a global online prayer service to pray for the victims of the coronavirus and their families, healthcare workers, government officials and for the complete eradication of and cure for Covid-19.
The virtual prayer service was live-streamed to the entire congregation with more than 200,000 members in countries all over the world participating, including the USA, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
In keeping with social distancing, health protocols and protecting its members from possible exposure to the coronavirus, Shincheonji arranged the virtual gathering for members to pray together in safety and set an example for others.
Prayers were mainly for the healing of those infected with the virus, for overworked healthcare workers who are struggling to fight Covid-19, and for people in economic distress in the wake of the pandemic. The overwhelming online participation from its members worldwide showed the desire and urgency to end this virus and for healing and restoration in communities.
The Chairman of Shincheonji Church Mr Manhee Lee suggested this online virtual gathering and said that all believers will continue to pray at the church’s worship services until the complete eradication of the coronavirus.
At least 1,700 of the church’s South Korean-based congregation have donated their blood plasma for research around an effective treatment. Convalescent plasma has also showed promise as therapy for Covid-19 and is believed to have reduced the severity of symptoms in critical patients.
“In order to defeat Covid-19, we need to embrace, love, and unite,” as global citizens, the church said. “We wanted to do all we can as believers by praying for the people working to prevent the spread of the virus and healthcare workers who are working at the frontlines of this battle against Covid-19 and we believe that God will answer our earnest prayers.”
The annual prestigious music awards, African Muzik Magazine Awards and Music Festival (AFRIMMA), has resumed this year. But this time around with a virtual version of it.
The awards that celebrate the originality of African music has unveiled their seventh edition. The awards seek to promote the African talent by bringing together on the same stage African legendary artists to celebrate African culture.
The event was established by the International Committee of AFRIMMA, in collaboration with African Union to reward and celebrate musical works, talents and creativity around the African continent while promoting the African cultural heritage amongst African countries.
However after the Covid-19 global pandemic, the event will not be hosted on a live global stage, but it will be hosted virtually and nominees are expected to deliver their performances virtually. The AFRIMMA Virtual Awards 2020 is set to be the first of its kind in the African music world with performances coming from different artists around the world and audience catching the performances, speeches and award presentations on multiple streaming devices.
Amongst the many who are nominated by the AFRIMMAs is local sensation Vee Mampeezy who has been nominated in the category for Best Male Southern African alongside music giants, Black Coffee- South Africa, Slap Dee – Zambia, Cassper Nyovest- South Africa, Master KG- South Africa, Jah Prayzah – Zimbabwe, Vee Mampeezy – Botswana, Shyn – Madagascar, Tshego- South Africa, Tha Dogg – Namibia and Yanga Chief – South Africa.
Mampeezy has established with WeekendLife that prior to that, he had received an email from AFRIMMA confirming his nomination. They wished for him to perform which he said he will confirm the performance first with his manager, but as for now he is not sure if he will be performing.
“We have accepted the nomination. It is such an honour to be nominated alongside music giants like Black Coffee. I am very excited, others I am not as excited to be nominated alongside them because I have been nominated before with them. I do not mean to say they are not great, they are great in their respective right,” he said.
“We should be excited as a country that Botswana has been nominated as well. Before anything else, the fact that we are there as nominees makes us winners. It is such an honour to be recognised more so that Botswana is a small country with a very small population.”
Famous and most decorated artists the likes of Diamond Platnumz, Mr Flavour, Harmonize, Davido and Jah Prayzah are also amongst the nominees. However, South African based artist affectionately known as Master KG has been nominated six times for Video of the year, Best Male Southern Africa, Artist of the year, Best Collaboration as well as song of the year.
Master KG’s song ‘Jerusalem’ has been making waves internationally, and it was used mostly during the pandemic to shake off the Covid-19 anxiety. The song was nominated after South African Music Awards (SAMA) failed to nominate the young talented artist.
The Queen does this through school tours, tree planting activities, street campaigns, coastal clean ups, speaking engagements, shopping mall tours, media guesting, environmental fairs, storytelling programs to children, eco-fashion shows, and other environmental activities.
Even though this auspicious year has been faulted by the COVID-19 crisis, Miss Earth Botswana 2020 Seneo Perry has seen this as a chance to fix her crown, and get dirty in conserving the environment. This is highly impressive as it expresses how dedicated she is not only in wearing the crown, but putting in some work to create a better greener world.
Perry is a Botswana based environmentalist, equipped with a degree in Entrepreneurial Business Leadership from Sheffield Hallam University (BAC) and a top 5 finalist in Miss Earth Botswana 2019. As an eco-warrior at heart, she has dedicated her time and energy towards educating and empowering the next generation on the importance of preservation and careful management of the environment and natural resources (a clean and safe environment.)
Miss Earth Botswana will be hosting SOS Children for a film documentary dubbed “Into the Okavango” on Saturday 19th September, in Tlokweng. This initiative is influenced by National Vision 2036 Pillar of National Values which is our identity, our unique natural and cultural resources, tolerance of diversity as well as national values constitute a value preposition that makes Botswana a place to live, work and do business.
In an exclusive interview with WeekendLife, Perry’s Manager, Shimah Keakopa, said the purpose of this event is to encourage the children to open up their minds a bit more to think outside the box as they are about to choose their career paths and what more they can offer to their country as upcoming young leaders.
“This event is held under the theme ‘‘Botswana will have healthy ecosystems that support the economy, livelihoods and our cultural heritage as well as enhance resilience to climate change’’. We strive to help young children grow up knowing their purpose in life and what they actually do in achieving their ambitions.”
For her part, the queen said since 2013, conservation topics have always attracted her interests towards achieving a clean and safe environment for the benefit of humanity. She said “Botswana relies heavily on the tourism industry as it contributes 7 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Our tourism industry has been characterized as more of a fauna and flora type, which is the great attraction to local and international tourists.”
“Therefore it is imperative that we conserve and continuously engage in environmental issues, to preserve our untouchable pristine wilderness. Furthermore people who live closest to natural resources generally absorb the greatest cost associated with conservation,” she said.
Perry told WeekendLife that a lot still needs to be done to ensure everybody is of one mind in an effort dedicated towards environmental conservation, which not only benefits the flora and fauna but the economy as well through activities such as agriculture and tourism.
“In Botswana, there still not enough policies (some outdated) and public awareness towards environmental conservation, especially the collective effort that should exist between government, private sector and Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
Whereas members of the general public do not have adequate access to the information on the importance of environmental conservation and this results in them being unaware of the best practices and standards in environmental conservation,” she said.
When she is not impressing at beauty pageants, Perry is a Managing Director of “Restoring the Prime Colour of the Earth” a charitable organization established in 2019 with the objective to educate both young and old people the importance of keeping a clean and safe environment and to restore the breath-taking landmarks in Botswana.