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Khama’s Serowe ghost house now a heritage site

The house in which Botswana’s first democratically elected President, Sir Seretse Khama was born and raised has been listed under the one hundred (100) national monuments.

The house which is an inherited property of Khama’s royal family is situated in the capital village of Bangwato, Serowe where he was born in July 1st 1921. The house had been abandoned, and was in dilapidating state for years but has been remarkably revamped for tourism purposes.

Built by Khama the Great (Khama III), it belonged to his son Sekgoma II who was Paramount Chief of the BammaNgwato, having been given to him as a present after his wedding and reconciliation with his father.  When Sekgoma II, father to Seretse became Chief he insisted that as a result of their reconciliation, his father had altered his will verbally and allotted the bulk of his house and cattle to him.

The modern European style house was last year refurbished at a budget amounting to hundred thousand pula and will soon be used as a heritage site. Botswana has over 2,500 such sites, of which more than 100 have been gazetted. The National Monuments and Relics Act of 2001 ensures that the sites are adequately protected. The National Museum found it befitting to revamp it and it was launched on the 23rd December 2015.

According to a research carried out by the National Museum, the last person to have stayed at the house from the royal family was Tebogo Sekgoma, the wife to Sekgoma II.

This was before it was handed over to the council. Vasco Baitsiseng who is the Principal Curator at the National Museum says they will soon open an exhibition at the newly refurbished house showcasing the life of Sekgoma, his leadership style and the succession and the birth of controversial and vocal Tshekedi Khama.   

From his Biography titled Black Prince, Tshekedi Khama has documented well the relationship between him and Sekgoma and the call to the regency, his clashes on many occasions with both the Bangwato royal family and the British Administration, whose representatives he took to task right up to the level of Whitehall and Westminster.

Contrary to Sekgoma II’ s rule the significance of the house is in housing the first President Seretse Khama and father to the current President Ian Khama. However it will zoom significantly to the life of his uncle Tshekedi Khama who rose to fame while he was formally installed at the age of twenty as the Regent of the Bangwato.

This will form part of the history that will be exhibited in the house. In an interview with one of the papers Naledi Khama, the only sister to the founding president Seretse Khama also hailed her uncle Tshekedi for having raised them.

“Being young I cannot remember that much.  What I know is that our uncle (Tshekedi Khama) looked after us like one of his own.  He gave us unconditional love and sent us to schools both locally and abroad. I don’t know whether he was using his resources or the ones left by our parents,” she said.

Who is Tshekedi Khama?

The birth of Tshekedi Khama on 17 September 1905 when his father was in his late sixties added a new dimension to the intense rivalries that had torn the royal family apart over the past decade. Although Khama had married three times, only his first wife, his much loved Mma Bessie, had born him a son, whom he named Sekgoma after his own father.

But when Sekgoma attained his majority he proved as strong willed as his father and the two began to clash over issues affecting the administration of the state. In 1898 Sekgoma accused his father of grooming his son-in-law, Ratshosa Motsetle, the husband of his eldest daughter Bessie, to succeed him. Khama denied that he was contemplating such a flagrant violation of the Ngwato laws of succession which held that as his only son Sekgoma was his lawful heir.

But Sekgoma continued to see Ratshosa as a rival, especially as it seemed that his imperious sister, Bessie, was determined to exploit his estrangement from their father to seek the succession for herself and her children. Khama entertained such a possibility and even threatened Sekgoma with it, though there was no precedent either for the succession of a woman to the office of kgosi or of succession through the female line.

On that occasion Khama had declared “And to you Sekgoma I swear that you will never get the chieftaincy…I must warn you that I can deny you the chieftaincy and pass it to the Ratshosas if I like.” Sekgoma's apprehensions cannot have been diminished when Ratshosa replaced him as his father's Secretary. Eventually relations between father and son became so strained that Sekgoma went into exile taking a number of followers and their cattle with him. He set himself up as an independent ruler and was recognised as such by the British administration.

In 1916, Khama nearly died after falling from his horse and breaking his leg. When Sekgoma heard that his father was gravely ill, he came to visit him on his sickbed and the two effected a reconciliation that survived Khama's recovery, though Sekgoma continued to live in his place of exile.

While Khama did not formally announce to the British administration that he and his son had become reconciled, the Resident Magistrate at Serowe reported to the Resident Commissioner that the two had resumed friendly relations. Nor did Khama alter his will in his elder son's favour.

Tshekedi had been formally installed as Regent less than three months before the attempted assassination. And so began a turbulent career during which Tshekedi was to take on royal rivals and British overlords including the most senior of these, the Dominions Secretary himself.

In 1951, his protests against the exile into which he had been sent by the British Administration nearly brought down the Labour Government of the day. And when he died in a London hospital on 10 June 1959, one distinguished campaigner for colonial freedom remembered him as the 'most outstanding' of the many African leaders he had met.

Source: Black Prince: A Biography of Tshekedi Khama 1905-1959

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WeekendLife

The art of mastering instrumentals

12th April 2021
Kagiso "Fella" Kenosi

You will know a tree by its fruits, the same way you will know a music producer by their works.

Top music producers in the country have set themselves apart through the quality music they produce and reap the results of international recognition from as far as the United States of America.

These producers are behind every star performer, listening and analyzing each and every note. When artists perform a vocal swell, rising to an octave that sounds like it’s going to shatter voice box, it’s easy to forget that someone was on the other side of the glass asking questions like, “Can you hit that note every night, or will it hurt too badly? Maybe we should lower the octave to save your voice?”

Producers make hundreds of decisions in each song, not to mention the push and pull relationships they have with talented performers.These relationships can make or break careers. Some of your favorite bands and artists wouldn’t be so memorable without a great producer helping to guide their distinct voices.

Kagiso Kenosi, or better known as Fella in the entertainment industry, is only 31-years old but he has already left his imprint in the music industry. The young chap, originally from Palapye, is not in the industry to add numbers, but to do his magic working behind the scenes producing hit song after hit song.

When most producers went to school to produce the hits that we hear today, Fella’s foundation and passion for producing came from being active in church.

“I grew up in a catholic orientated family where music is the essence of our religion. The love for music in its entirety emerged from enjoying singing at church and blossomed over the years as I grew up, being exposed to the internet and software’s such as fruity loops.”

Fella says he then learnt how to make beats and proceeded with vocal processing so besides the love for music, he had an amazing group of people who helped him reach his life dream; being the best in music production. The sky was the limit for Fella.

Unfortunately for so many music producers locally, this kind of hustle is basically about being famous. Some of them bite off more than they can chew just for a quick buck that doesn’t even go a long away for them. At the end of it all, these fly by night prima-donnas end up cutting corners and producing subpar records which eventually leads to a premature death for their careers.

Fella’s advice is that fellow colleagues should be patient and continue learning the craft, even if it means taking online tutorials. “Even though I’m still learning too, for I believe music is a fast infinite universe where no one can never say they know it all, I think believing in what one does, the level of creativity and being able to stand alone can do magic.

We living in an era where people go through a lot, so it is imperative for a music producer to be able to relate to those kind of situations. This takes only the right instrumentals, which will compliment emotions of an artist.”

The most asked question outside the music industry is; who chooses the instruments for a song, is it the artist or the producer? Fella gave his take;

“I make instrumentals and keep them until an artist comes to work on a song. That’s when I advise on whether I think the concept they chose goes hand in hand with the instrumentals. We will then look for a more appropriate song.

In some cases, artists can come and we record vocals without an instrumental and then get to make a beat on top of the recorded vocal which in that case guides me to make a relevant instrumental,” he said in an exclusive interview with WeekendLife on Wednesday.

Digging more into finding the difference between a producer and an engineer, Fella clarified that there is not much difference. There is actually a thin line between the two even though an engineer does more than a producer when dishing out a song.

“We use the word production to credit people who only make beats. Engineers are people who record vocals, clean them, do the mixing and master the song preparing the record for radio. I must say an engineer, does the critical components of a song.”

As young as he is, Fella has been through thick and thin with young artists. It has been a roller-coaster of emotions, because, frankly some of these fledging artists are way too complicated to work with. Fella admits that he too has flaws but c’est la vie, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

“It’s always a blessing and quite exciting because these different people of different energies and mind-sets and creativity will humble you. It’s a chastening experience and also accords me with experience to manoeuvre and adjust to people with different characters.

So truly, it has helped me grow as a person, and a producer.”

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WeekendLife

BOMU spruce up dirty laundry

30th March 2021
BOMU awards

Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) is known for its bad reputation that has been getting worse over the years. There has been a lot of chinwag, squabbles and the organization literally lost touch. It has gotten so bad that stakeholders pulled out, and members were left with no choice but to face the music alone.

Just when you’d think the waters are calm, the new Executive Committee awarded a fledgling company, Total Music Group, to handle the 2021 music awards. This move was seen as a biased decision that got BOMU members bent out of shape.

However, BOMU Secretary General, Rasina Rasina told Weekendlife that the Executive Committee that it has many irons in the fire. He indeed admitted without reluctance that, BOMU has been clouded by hubbub.

“We pledged when the new administration took over that it would begin with cleaning our own house. We have built structures as we had promised and we are glad that they are fully functional. One of those is the disciplinary committee.”

“BOMU has for a long time appeared to be lacking discipline and proper laid down procedures. This has led to the organization losing out big in its endeavour to serve its members and the entire music fraternity. The National Executive Committee, chapter committees and sub-committees have committed to ensuring that non proper governance and accountability shall take centre stage and this is all that is happening,” Rasina told Weekendlife on Tuesday.

Rebuilding and rebranding a disintegrated intuition such as BOMU is not just a walk in the park, it needs concerted efforts and team work to actually reach that goal. A stitch in time saves nine, but as for BOMU, the entire union failed to address its dares a long time ago, but the union says everything is on track in recuperating public trust and fixing the mess created then.

BOMU Research and Policy Committee is hard finalizing a new code of conduct which will contribute significantly to how members and leadership conduct themselves and relate with each other for the furtherance of BOMU’s mandate, Weekendlife has been reliably informed.

“We are doing everything according to our constitution, logic and reason. We advise our members that they should point out where the constitution has been breached and that they are at liberty to follow due process and report any misconduct to the disciplinary committee,” said Rasina.

This is following the suspension of some executive committee members and BOMU subscribed members for questioning the integrity in awarding the music awards tender. Some members, told Weekendlife that they will seek legal advice on the matter.

“We do have members who have already appeared before the disciplinary committee on various charges and decisions are yet to be taken. We also have members who are yet to appear before the committee for various complaints levelled against them. Current suspensions are related to various complaints and offences.”

With regard to appointing Total Music Group, BOMU National Executive Committee says it used Article 9.3.19 of its constitution. The article says; “The National Executive Committee of BOMU shall have the authority to enter into legally binding contracts on behalf of the Union.’’

Rasina says the leadership needed a company to manage, host and sell the BOMU awards for five years consecutively so as to attain stability and refurbish the brand image of both the music awards and the organization. “Without any money at our disposal, we debated on the best model and agreed that we should engage a company that also has the capacity to mobilize resources. We used our discretion and decided on a direct appointment model which is perfectly legal and constitutional.”

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WeekendLife

SENEO PERRY: Beauty with a purpose

24th March 2021
Seneo Perry

To a stranger, Seneo Perry would describe herself as a young darling zealous about wildlife conservation, international travel and tourism enthusiast.

She is also a staunch believer in empowering young children through educational programs that could expose them to live improved livelihoods.

Perry is a former beauty queen (Miss Earth Botswana 2020). For her, a beauty queen should get down and put in some work, get dirt and make an impact. Of course a picture paints a thousand words, and judging from her successful projects, she lives the talk.

During her reign, Perry adopted the SOS Children’s Village. This is a home for 92 orphaned and less privileged children. She introduced few projects to aid the running of the children village, at the same time sourcing sponsors. She named one of her projects ‘Restoring the Prime Colors of the Earth.’

Restoring The Prime Colors of the Earth was founded on the basis of teaching children about the importance of conservation and environmental protection through tree planting and vegetable gardens.

The project, she told Weekendlife this week, gained local and international recognition, particularly from tourism magazines.

COVID-19 came over and messed up her strategies for the year. Perry however did not cry over spilt milk instead she was smart enough to divert into other streams of raising funds to execute her obligations.

Perry did not put all of her eggs in one basket by doing something that could make her get infected, but rather sold t-shirts that would double as a promotion strategy dubbed #PeopleWildlifeEnvironment. To this date, she raised over P7000.

“I love being out in the wild and promoting sustainable tourism. I would then pick the best 10 children that worked very hard at the project I have with them and introduce them to the wild with the money I raised,” she said in an exclusive interview.

“The idea is to stick to making the trip for the children educational especially on the aspect of conservation because realistically speaking tourism is the backbone of conservation.

I want them to have first-hand experience with the African elephant and visit the Elephant Havens Wildlife Foundation in Maun. Unfortunately due to floods in Moremi Game Reserve, the plan of a game drive has been aborted.”

Initially, Perry says she wanted the children to have been those from the SOS Children’s Village. She had to put them on ice due to insufficient funds to transport them to Maun. This however did not dishearten Perry, instead she located Bana Ba Letsatsi (in Maun) to embark on this journey.

She told Weekendlife that the trip will be undertaken today (Saturday 20th March 2021).“Tourism has always been the backbone of conservation and it needs to be protected. Therefore, it is imperative to introduce children to wild spaces so they get to appreciate the ecosystem in the wild.

These young children will be leaders and decision makers in the near future. Decisions made will either cause a catastrophe to the wild or help it recover to a point wherein both humans and animals co-exist.

Seneo Perry is an environmentalist equipped with a Bachelor’s Degree in Entrepreneurial Business Leadership from Sheffield Hallam University and Miss Earth Botswana 2019 finalist. She was crowned Queen in 2020.

She is also a member of Kalahari Conservation Society, a conservation society which is instrumental in environmental initiatives and activities that concern the environment.

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