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Monday, 04 December 2023

Badass guitarists clash


Guitar lovers and enthusiasts are in for a treat next weekend as Botswana Craft will host legendary guitar players at their Guitar Festival, notably, the headline act, Louis Mhlanga who will be performing at Botswana Craft for the second time since 2014.

Mhlanga will share the stage with two of Botswana’s most accomplished guitarists, John Selolwane and Banjo Mosele. The local duo, are both former key members of Kalahari Band, a local outfit that was roped in to back Hugh Masekela in the 1980s. All three artists’ sound has been influenced by sounds of mbaqanga and a hint of rock and roll, which they all have professed to have listened to while growing up.

All three legendary guitarists have all played on international stages and backed international artists, such as Andy Narell, Paul Simon, Miriam Makeba, and Hugh Masekela.

Norway based Mosele, perhaps Botswana’s most accomplished Jazz artist, has been in the industry for over two decades. Mosele moved to Oslo, Norway, in the 90's and performs frequently in Europe and the U.K. In 2003, he released his first solo album, Badisa and his second album, Movin' On, came out in 2005.

Mosele returns to Botswana at least three or four times a year, and that’s where he recorded his most recent album Nowa Days collaborating entirely with local talent.

Lately, Mosele has been working with the Botswana Musicians Union to better promote his country’s music.

Meanwhile John Selolwane spent a considerable time performing shows around the world with Paul Simon and living in New York. It was only in the mid 1990s that he would come back to Botswana to stay. He attributed his return to him missing home and being tired from living off his suitcase. He then would join Bra Hugh Masekela, spending years commuting between Botswana and Johannesburg for performances with the “Thanayi” hit maker. He parted ways with Masekela in 2009, though he never explicitly stated his reasons. Reports however later surfaced, that implied that Selolwane believed he was being ripped off. He has not released an album of his own yet, but continues to play some shows locally. 

As for Mhlanga, he has as an interesting background as his guitar. The lanky, soft-spoken player is a South African, but he was raised in Zimbabwe, listening to rock’n roll and Jimi Hendrix, Congolese music, and schooled in Botswana. Since his music career took off in the 1970’s, Mhlanga has established himself as a musician of note. 

Studies in London exposed Mhlanga to West African music, which he followed up with a residency at King Sunny Ade's Nigerian studio before returning to Zimbabwe and then settling in South Africa. He has been a sideman for artists like Thomas Mapfumo, Miriam Makeba and Andy Narell and has collaborated with others as diverse as Malian singer, Habib Koite and Dutch free jazzer, Paul van Kemenade.

A century and a half ago, it was the guitar that linked memories of home all across the continent. Migrants came from many places and their music borrowed freely from neighbours’ with different traditions and, later, from the radio to create innovative urban styles. Of course, it's this history that gives Mhlanga‘s music its diversity, from irrepressible Afro-rock through rhythmically complex echoes of Zimbabwean mbira music, to intricate modern jazz improvisation.

Joining the trio is Damien Kapenda Katuta, a Congolese national currently working and residing in Botswana. Kapenda has worked with many local and international artists such as Oliver Mtukudzi, Jeff Matheatau and Vee. Katuta has also shared the stage with; Jimmy Dludlu, Hugh Masekela, Tshepo Tshola, Mango Groove, Salif Keita, Earl Klugh, Kenny Latimore, Andy Narrel, Malaika and Hot Stix Mabuse.

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DJ Sway ‘saved’ the YAMAs

22nd November 2023

DJ Sway, the daring and ambitious on-air presenter of Yarona FM, played a crucial role in saving the radio station’s music awards, known as the YAMAs. The event was initially dry and disorganized, but DJ Sway, who co-hosted with Pearl Thusi, injected life into the show. However, things took a turn for the worse when Pearl Thusi abruptly left the stage, leaving DJ Sway to carry on alone. Despite the unexpected setback, DJ Sway rose to the occasion and captivated the audience, effectively putting an end to the drama caused by Pearl Thusi.

In an exclusive interview after the YAMAs, DJ Sway revealed the behind-the-scenes chaos that unfolded during the event. He acknowledged the script editors, Phalana and Hope, who worked tirelessly to reedit the script and adapt it to a one-host format. Despite the last-minute changes, DJ Sway remained composed and focused, thanks to the support of his colleagues, such as Owen Rampha, Katlego Rakola, Tshepang Motsisi (DJ Easy), and LB.

When asked about his initial reaction to the unexpected turn of events, DJ Sway admitted to feeling saddened by how things ended. However, he credited Pearl Thusi for giving him a much-needed confidence boost during his moment of doubt. She reminded him that he was destined for greatness and that he didn’t need big stars to succeed. With her words of encouragement, DJ Sway regained his composure and approached the rest of the show with the same professionalism and charisma he displays on the radio.

To overcome the challenges he faced, DJ Sway relied on his radio skills and calm personality. He engaged with the audience as if he were speaking to a single person, pointing out individuals in the crowd to create a more intimate connection. He also expressed gratitude for his backstage team, who provided support and ensured the smooth running of the show.

DJ Sway expressed satisfaction in being seen as the saving grace of the YAMAs. He believed that he fulfilled his role as a host and brought joy to the Yarona FM board, his family, and his fans. Despite his success, DJ Sway’s journey has not been without hardships. He has experienced the loss of his mother and sister, which has left a lasting impact on him. While he continues to grieve, he seeks solace in therapy sessions and relies on his father for emotional support.

DJ Sway’s dedication to his craft and ability to overcome adversity make him a remarkable figure in the radio industry. His vibrant personality and deep knowledge of music have made him a perfect fit for Yarona FM. Despite the challenges he has faced, DJ Sway remains determined to make a positive impact and bring joy to his listeners. With his talent and resilience, there is no doubt that DJ Sway will continue to thrive in his career and leave a lasting legacy in the world of radio.


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Chef Gustos walk of shame

22nd November 2023

Chef Gustos, the renowned hitmaker, recently experienced what can only be described as a walk of shame at the 8th edition of the Yarona FM Music Awards (YAMAs). Despite being nominated a whopping seven times, he failed to secure a single win. Ouch!

The night was filled with surprises, drama, and controversy, but the biggest winner of the evening was Han C, who walked away with three awards, including Best Pop and Best Male Single for his hit song, “Sebinki.” Han C graciously announced that he would be donating P10,000 from his winnings to his fellow nominees, promoting a spirit of togetherness among artists. What a noble gesture!

Meanwhile, Chef Gustos found himself on the losing end of several categories, including People’s Choice Artist of the Year, which he had won in the past. He seemed unfazed by the loss, stating, “People know that ‘Away’ was big, but they won’t stop me.” It’s clear that Chef Gustos is determined to continue making music, regardless of the awards he receives.

However, he did express his frustration with the outcome, suggesting that the awards may be corrupt. He declined to comment further, citing the need to protect his brand and maintain good relationships with corporate clients. It’s understandable that he wants to avoid any potential damage to his future prospects.

In fact, Chef Gustos went so far as to request that Yarona FM not nominate him for future YAMAs. It seems he wants to distance himself from the disappointment and focus on his music without the pressure of awards. Perhaps this decision will allow him to create freely and without the burden of expectations.

While Chef Gustos may have experienced a walk of shame at the YAMAs, it’s important to remember that awards do not define an artist’s talent or success. His fans still appreciate his music, and he continues to have gigs with corporate clients. So, despite the disappointment, Chef Gustos remains optimistic about his future in the industry.

In the end, the YAMAs may have been a letdown for Chef Gustos, but he’s determined to keep moving forward. He won’t let a lack of awards dampen his spirits or hinder his creativity. And who knows, maybe next time he’ll come back stronger and prove that he’s deserving of recognition. After all, the true measure of an artist’s success lies in the hearts of their fans, not in shiny trophies.


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Women in Science: Breaking Glass Ceilings

16th November 2023

Women scientists have made significant contributions to the field of science, yet they continue to face numerous challenges and barriers. Despite their remarkable achievements, women represent only a fraction of researchers globally, and their work often goes unrecognized. The need for scientific role models to inspire the younger generation is urgent. However, organizations like the Fondation L’Oréal and UNESCO are working tirelessly to empower women scientists and promote gender equality in the scientific community.

The Fondation L’Oréal and UNESCO have collaborated for over two years to support and recognize women scientists who have achieved scientific excellence. These organizations have awarded more than 100 laureates, with five of them going on to win Nobel Prizes. These women researchers, who have worked in various scientific fields across different continents, are not only changing the world through their discoveries but also serving as role models for aspiring women scientists.

The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science programs annually support over 250 talented young women researchers. Through regional and national programs, the Fondation L’Oréal and UNESCO provide crucial support to these researchers during their thesis or post-doctoral studies. While progress has been made, there is still much work to be done to achieve true gender equality in science. However, both organizations remain determined to make this vision a reality.

Recently, the Fondation L’Oréal and UNESCO hosted thirty winners of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science 14th Rising Talents Sub-Saharan Africa awards in Kasane. These awards recognize African women scientists for their outstanding research. During a press conference, Fondation L’Oréal CEO Alexandra Palt emphasized the importance of empowering women scientists in Sub-Saharan Africa, a continent that suffers greatly from climate disruption. Palt highlighted the challenges these women face, including overcoming prejudice, sexism, and harassment, to become accomplished scientists.

The finalists of the awards are scientists, PhD students, and post-doctoral researchers who are advancing various disciplines such as biology, agronomy, physics, mathematics, genetics, and engineering. Their goal is to improve the daily lives of Africa’s people, whether through advancements in health or the environment. These women, such as Dairou Hadidjatou, a pioneer in cardiovascular disease treatment in Cameroon, Esther Uwimaana, conducting research on potential tuberculosis vaccines, and Mwende Mbilo, innovating clean energy solutions in Kenya, are driven by their desire to advance science and society.

The need for scientific role models to inspire the younger generation is crucial. Palt emphasized that Africa currently represents only 2.5% of scientists globally, making it challenging for young girls in Africa to pursue scientific careers when women researchers in their countries are often invisible in the media, scientific publications, and international forums. To address this, the Fondation L’Oréal and UNESCO have increased the number of young talents awarded from 20 to 30. These researchers also receive leadership training to enhance their communication and negotiation skills, as well as their ability to address harassment and speak publicly or with the media.

By highlighting the achievements of these women scientists, the Fondation L’Oréal and UNESCO aim to break the glass ceiling and provide them with the recognition they deserve. It is essential to take urgent action on multiple levels to enable these talented women to emerge onto the public stage and be acknowledged for their excellent work. Only then can we truly achieve gender equality in the scientific community.

In conclusion, women scientists have made significant contributions to science, yet they continue to face numerous challenges and barriers. Organizations like the Fondation L’Oréal and UNESCO are working tirelessly to empower women scientists and promote gender equality in the scientific community. By recognizing and supporting these women, we can inspire the younger generation and create a world where women in science are celebrated and their work is valued.


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