Cross Okavango Delta Expedition: Africaís best adventure trail
By Dave Baaitse
Crossing the Delta on Mokoro (dugout canoes) has been dubbed “Botswana’s ultimate travel experience,” the expedition offers the traveller the chance to see the Okavango up close and personal. A Mokoro drive tells the story of the Okavango Delta to Batswana and the rest of the world through the naked eye, capturing the best photographic scenes and moments with delta animals through the camera lens.
The second edition which will set off end of next month is even more thrilling, bringing on board various local artists in order to inspire them to create artworks based on their delta crossing experience.
The Cross Okavango Delta Expedition is led by Thalefang Charles, a renowned Photojournalist and backpacker who has a great passion of travelling and photographing Africa over the years. He is supported by Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) and the second expedition across the Okavango Delta will start from Seronga to Maun from July 23 to August 8, 2016.
It has been confirmed that this year, the expedition will travel with various local artists (musicians, poet, painters, and photographers) in order to inspire them to create artworks based on their Delta crossing experience. The artworks would form part of the celebratory artworks by Batswana on the country’s 50th independence Celebrations and presented at an Okavango Delta Art Exhibition event that will be organised by the BTO in September this year.
“The aim of this project is to promote conservation, share the Okavango Delta with Batswana, promote tourism and the arts, as well as to celebrate Botswana’s golden jubilee,” said expedition leader Charles. This trail has a great potential to be among Africa’s best adventure trails. The expedition will be a trailblazer for more daring adventurers from around the world and locally.
Expedition Team includes the following local artists; Monaga ‘Stiger Sola’ Molefi- a legendary and well celebrated guitarist from Maun where he is also based, Rapper HT- born Kealeboga Mabua HT or Tautona is hip-hop artist from Maun but is based in Gaborone, Lesego Nchunga known as LeshieLovesong a renowned poet and singer, based in Gaborone but originally from the Chobe area as well as Abel Makondo- a painter born and bred in Maun. He is a painter and currently teaching Art on part-time basis in Maun. It would be his first time into the heart of the Okavango Delta.
Photographer Pako Lesejane was part of the trailblazing team that crossed the delta in 2015 and will also form part of the team this year with Charles leading the expedition team. A film crew would also be following the expedition to produce a television documentary for the project.
The team will also partner with The Conservation Music Project, which is a brainchild of Alex Paullin from US who has been following traditional music from around the Delta to promote conservation. Paullin will work with musicians to produce music inspired by the Delta for the Delta.
The team will travel with expert Bayei polers from Seronga and Jao Flats who would be leading them through the ancient routes of their great grandfathers across the Okavango Delta.
“Batswana do not know the Okavango Delta and this is my little effort to teach Batswana about the Okavango Delta. With this trip I hope to inspire artists to describe this amazing place or describe themselves with this place. I hope they too would share the Okavango Delta with Batswana and the world. I believe after 50 years of independence it is about time we tell our own stories about our places. The Okavango Delta has inspired many foreign artists, photographers and this expedition aims to use the Okavango Delta to inspire Botswana talent while spreading the conservation message and celebrating Botswana,” said Charles.
Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) alluded to the fact that the expedition will certainly provide an opportunity for the world to appreciate it even more with the envisaged song and art productions that are part of the expedition. This is part of the continuation of BTO’s ‘Explore Your Campaign’ which they believe resonates with the golden jubilee celebrations’.
This is our call to adventure. As George Mallory once said when asked what’s the use of Climbing Mount Everest, “What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.
Without adventure man would not have stepped on Everest peak, or on the moon, he would have been scared to cross oceans and deserts, so this is our call to the adventure”. Mallory died on Everest.
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Dr Lame Pusetso comes to writer‚Äôs rescue
Multi award winning author of fifteen (15) books, Dr Lame Pusetso has put together a platform to empower local writers. Dr Pusetso is a President and Chairperson of the Executive Board of Kasapa Society.
She is also the Managing Director of Poeticblood Publishers and an owner of an online bookstore dubbed Mind and Soul Bookstores. Dr Pusetso has reiterated her commitment to helping upcoming authors, writers and poets in establishing their crafts and capitalizing on them.
In an exclusive interview this week, she said that she has put together a platform dubbed Botswana Literature Awards, which have fourteen categories.
When quizzed on what the awards stand for, Dr Pusetso said ‚Äúwriting as a form of art in Botswana is a skill that many have and have always been exploring. As a publisher, I have met different writers from all walks of life and some indicating that there isn‚Äôt enough motivation to keep going.‚ÄĚ
In Botswana and according to the writer, there has been a limited representation of appreciation of authors. This is despite their efforts year in year out.
The whole intention of these awards really is to honor and recognize the hard work that local authors put in, when doing what they know best (writing).
‚ÄúThis is a way of appreciating their creativity and we will be doing this across all genres. The awards also act as a motivational tool to young writers who still have dreams of becoming best selling authors. Quite frankly, their works are of great importance and we cannot afford to let that slide like that.‚ÄĚ
Dr Pusetso emphasized that all the winners will walk away with an award, a certificate and complimentary gifts to take home. ‚ÄúThe two winners of Best Overall Author and Best Young Author will in addition receive book publication deals which includes book distribution and marketing for a year.
She gave a clearer picture of how authors can be a part of the literature awards.
‚ÄúThe awards are open to every author from the age of 7, must be a Motswana, and their book should have been published before or by 2022. For authors with more than one book, they are allowed to compete with only one book for one category, and different books for different categories.‚ÄĚ
The young writer pinned hope on institutional collaborations, in order to stage the second edition of the awards next year, saying ‚ÄúWe believe with these awards, the different institutions and stakeholders will show interest in helping nurture the literature scenario in Botswana.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIt will also give authors hope and light to keep writing and penning down their stories for the benefit of all. We anticipate to host the next edition in 2024 with assistance from all interested parties.‚ÄĚ
THE LITERATURE AWARDS CATEGORIES
Dr Pusetso stressed that there are fourteen (14) categories, and they are: Religious or Faith Based Book, Poetry Book, Children‚Äôs Book, Multi-lingual Writer, Best Collaboration, Setswana Novel, English Novel, Motivational Book, Best Young Author (7-13), Overall Best Author, Best Theory, Best Online Writer, Best Media Writer (Honor Award) and Honor Award (Long Serving Best Author).
EXPLAINING SPECIAL AWARDS
Best Media and Honor Award, Dr Pusetso said are not based on submissions but nomination by the committee. ‚ÄúFor Honor Award, we want to appreciate the individual who has inspired the Botswana writing scenario over the years and even assisted numerous authors as both a writer and a community leader.‚ÄĚ
The Best Media Writer award is meant to appreciate a journalist who is actively taking part in appreciating and helping authors in marketing, advertising and affording them a platform to showcase their works through their writing skills.
Meanwhile, the Botswana Literature Awards will be held on the 29th April and they are partially sponsored through the literacy grant. This is a grant under the Botswana National Library Services which falls under the Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sports and Culture.
Women‚Äôs Awards hit the ground running
The second edition of the much-anticipated Women‚Äôs Awards Botswana will be going down on the 27th May 2023 in Gaborone at Travel Lodge. The organizers of the prestigious awards have announced finalists, with three nominees per category.
Women‚Äôs Awards Botswana is established to empower women and celebrate them from all walks of life and across sectors. The awards raise awareness for women to be granted equal participation, particularly in decision-making positions, as one way of breaking the gender bias.
They also seek to celebrate the outstanding achievements of women from diverse industries in Botswana. Taking a closer look at the categories, He for She award celebrates and shines a light on men who stand and support women.
These are men who advocate for inclusion of women, men who stand against GBV and men who promote any service that can better women life. Her Abilities award looks into women who have shown determination to keep moving and achieve any goal they have set for themselves, regardless of their disability.
Other awards are self-explanatory. They celebrate women in arts, culture and entertainment, agriculture, creativity, innovation and technology, tourism and hospitality, community impact as well as organization supporting women.
ORGANIZER SPEAKS ON CRITERIA USED
When speaking in an interview, Founder and Director of Women‚Äôs Awards Botswana, Bofelo Zebe, said in their first edition, they had fifteen categories, which was enough for a piloting project.
‚ÄúBut we left out many industries or lines of work. After the event, we received reviews and suggestions, and there was an intensive evaluation that led to us increasing the categories to eighteen for this second edition.‚ÄĚ
He said the nominees were voted in by the public, adding that the finalists were judged by a panel with the support of votes from their supporters.
When shedding light on what winners take home, Zebe indicated that there is an award trophy, certificate and goodie bags for all categories but ‚Äúwe are working to have financial sponsors jump on board so that winners and nominees can receive monetary incentives. We are also busy at work trying to retain our previous sponsors.‚ÄĚ
THE 2023 WOMEN‚ÄôS AWARDS BOTSWANA NOMINEES
HE FOR SHE AWARD
Desmond Lunga, Tlhabo Kgosiemang and Christopher Seagateng
BEST WOMAN IN ARTS, CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT
Ditshupo Mosoboloko, Thanolo Keutlwile and Seneo Mabengano
HER ABILITIES AWARD
Koketso Seleke, Goabo Kgasa and Mumsie Odirile
SPORTS WOMAN OF THE YEAR
Naledi Marape, Ouname Mhotsha and Keamogetse Kenosi
WOMAN FASHION DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
Montle Rantatana, Lesedi Matlapeng and Trudy Bakwena
BEST WOMAN IN AGRICULTURE
Nomathemba Masuku, Basadi Molelekeng and Keolebogile Keabetswe
BEST WOMAN IN CREATIVITY, INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY
Marang Mbaakanyi, Didintle Moreki and Thandeka Palai
BEST WOMAN IN TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY
Masego Keleadile, Wapula Matshambane and Tshepo Phokoje
YOUNG WOMAN OF THE YEAR
Bridget Gothaang, Waone Makobo and Kimberly Matheakgomo
WOMAN OWNED SME BUSINESS OF THE YEAR
Suits Africa, Nomlu Nail Bar and Sunflower Desserts
BEST WOMAN OWNED BUSINESS
Prezlin Clothing and Dawn Bell Academy
FEMALE MUSIC ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Mpho Sebina, Dato Seiko and Priscilla K
BEST ORGANIZATION SUPPORTING WOMEN
Sekao Foundation, The Fighters Support Group and Single Mothers Living with HIV
BEST WOMAN WITH COMMUNITY IMPACT
Lebopo Bulayani, Nanzelela Chaitezvi and Kebadile Wasenda
MEDIA WOMAN OF THE YEAR
Poppy Sello, Keikantse Shumba and Kedi Lezozo
FAVOURITE PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR
Marang Selolwane, Palesa Molefe and Masi Sithole
BEST WOMAN IN LEADERSHIP
Naseem Lahri, Neo Bogatsu and Lily Rakorong
AMANDA BLACK RETURNS TO SELF WITH NEW SINGLE ‚ÄúNGUWE‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúNGUWE‚ÄĚ SETS THE TONE TO HER FORTH STUDIO ALBUM
Johannesburg, Friday, 17th March 2022-¬†‚ÄĚ Amanda Black returns with her signature mix of Afro Pop, hip hop, R&B, and deeply-rooted Xhosa influences to deliver an inspirational message of returning to self and self-love ¬†with her new single ‚ÄúNguwe‚ÄĚ .
Available all digital platforms.
The single comes as Amanda ¬†Black gears up to release her forth studio album, featuring new songs with her signature sound infusing R&B Soul and tribal African melodies. As she grows and discovers herself as an individual, a spiritual being and a musician, Amanda is on a journey of self-discovery. The music reflects on the better and more hopeful space she has come to in this journey, the single ‚ÄúNguwe‚ÄĚ ¬†sets the tone and follows the theme of the upcoming album. The music is about falling in love with self¬†, honoring yourself by self-acceptance. The overall theme and message is spiritual reconnection and trusting herself with her music.
Surfacing in 2016, that album was certified platinum a scant three weeks after its release and went on to earn Black numerous nominations and awards – including three South Africa Music Awards, two Metro Awards and a BET International Artist Of The Year nomination.
Most importantly, Amazulu‚Äôs mix of Afro Pop, hip hop, R&B, and deeply-rooted Xhosa influences secured Black a devoted fanbase that stretched right across the country. These music lovers quickly embraced her gift for telling authentic coming-of-age African stories through songs that touched on the universal experiences of love and heartbreak, of finding and losing yourself, of having hopes and dealing with fears.
But, in the background, Black was discovering that the road to becoming a fulltime artist wasn‚Äôt easy ‚Äď even one marked by commercial and critical success straight out of the gate.
Of course, when she began singing in church as a child growing up in the Eastern Cape, and even when she studied Music Education at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Black never imagined it would all be plain sailing. She knew there was no guarantee that, when she boarded a Greyhound bus headed for Johannesburg, she would return home with a story of success to tell. Too many talented musicians from her home town had made that same journey but had never returned – an experience captured with poignant insight on ‚ÄúBayile‚ÄĚ, one of Power‚Äôs standout tracks.
Still, Black never expected she‚Äôd have to expend so much energy standing up for her artistic rights after she‚Äôd become one of South Africa‚Äôs most popular and awarded artists. There was even a moment when she thought, ‚Äúwhat am I doing this for?‚ÄĚ.¬† ‚ÄúThe music industry is not what it looks like from the outside,‚ÄĚ the 25-year-old says, with just a flash of emotion. ‚ÄúBecoming a singer is not what you imagine. It‚Äôs a lot harder and a lot deeper. At that time, I asked myself, ‚Äėdo you even still love music‚Äô. I truly didn‚Äôt know if I could continue to keep fighting to be treated with respect and fairness. There was a part of me that thought maybe music should just be a hobby ‚Äď that I should just return to that happy place where I play my music and sing, for myself, my family and my community and it feels good.‚ÄĚ
But, in spite of feeling helpless and hopeless at times, deep down Black knew that she still adored this thing called music; that the dream she‚Äôs always had, of doing something that can change the world and heal people, remained intact. And so she went to the one place where she knew she could move through the dark and into the light and start writing music again: home.
‚ÄúMy family is like my compass,‚ÄĚ Black says, her words laced with gratitude and love. ‚ÄúThey are always there to support me, especially my mom. Whenever I go home, it‚Äôs to recharge. I can honestly say that being there is like getting my superpower back.‚ÄĚ
Alongside allowing her to feel the energetic power of her roots and the love of her family, being home enabled Black to make sense of the journey she‚Äôd travelled so far. She‚Äôd learnt to play and write on the guitar at 16 and, as part of reclaiming the purity of her love for making music, she returned to the instrument within the safety of home. ‚ÄúThe sound of the guitar soothes me, and it reminds of when I would write and play music with no conditions, with no expectations,‚ÄĚ she says. Black also began working with the beats and melodies that she has on her phone, freestyling lyrics with no judgement or editing, letting her spirit feel its way forward through singing and playing and imagining.
With a renewed sense of her creative being propelling her, Black returned to Johannesburg. There she embarked on process of making Power and establishing her new label Afro Rockstar, in partnership with Sony Music. Power is a mix of autobiographical songs ‚Äď a highlight is the light-hearted ‚ÄúEgoli‚ÄĚ – and others, like first single ‚ÄúThandwa Ndim‚ÄĚ, that see Black giving impactful voice to the experiences of women in the current socio-political moment.¬† The album features several love songs including ‚ÄúLemme Go‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúLove Again‚ÄĚ, and includes the stunning ‚ÄúHamba‚ÄĚ, a song about being thirsty for life, love, hope and happiness that features a chorus sampled from Margaret Singana‚Äôs ‚ÄúHamba Bhekile‚ÄĚ off ‚ÄúShaka Zulu‚ÄĚ.
Power sees Black once more working with producer Christer Kobedi and the album also has a special collaboration with keyboardist and producer, Kenneth Crouch. In the end, it‚Äôs an album of inspiration, of motivation and of integrity. As the next musical calling card of a South African global artist in-the-making, it‚Äôs breath-taking and is poised to bring Black back to where she belongs: performing¬† beautiful music for music lovers everywhere