When you think of Yarona Fm one name comes to the mind – former Station Manager and the mastermind behind the first private radio station in Botswana which went on air for the very first time on 22nd August 1999 at 1600 hrs.
This is none other than Percy Raditladi, the man who sacrificed his university education in Cape Town at the age of 24 to return home to set up Yarona Fm despite the mist and huddles that took a crack at his dream; he remained committed and focused even beyond frontiers.
Over the past weekend Percy Raditladi was awarded the 2015 Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) Icon of the Year Award at the Yarona FM Music Awards held at Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC). WeekendLife caught up with him to unearth the nerve stretching narrative of the story behind Yarona Fm, his future dreams of radio and what he is currently doing.
The 41 year old Raditladi is always a busy man; when this reporter arrived at his office adjust to Game City roundabout he was standing at his desk at Verimark with a Cellphone in his hand and an air- con remote control on the other hand looking all engaged. We sat and he started to tell of a story that finally crafted his dream. When he talks he expresses his emotions and speaks with great enthusiasm.
Believe it or not, he still has the copy of the newspaper which he described as having changed his life, The Midweek Sun dated 15th April 1998 carrying an advert calling for purchase of tender documents for FM commercial broadcasting services. Through his best friend Peter Kgosiemang he managed to buy the documents at the amount of P 500, 00 at the then Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA). At the time he was at university in Cape Town when he decided to quit school upon receiving the documents and took all his savings to start up the consortium.
One of the tender requirements was to have a technical partner in someone who is experienced and practising so Percy approached Arn Allingham, a radio expert, to help him with a proposal and paid R 1, 500. He then approached the only Motswana to have contracted to Y- Fm by then and willing to be the technical partner Thato Sikwane aka DJ Fresh. They talked and met up with DJ Fresh at Soweto in Yeoville who introduced him to Dirk Hartford another radio expert who started Y-Fm radio station in South Africa.
The tender documents required Motswana to be the major shareholder thus Dirk agreed to assemble a foreign stake in the consortium to a maximum of 49% shares; besides the newspaper again this is a letter that changed his life. He comes home but he does not have money nor place to stay in Gaborone, thus he opted to visit his mother who was a teacher by then in Palapye and she gave her P10, 000 to rent a house in Mogoditshane and start the consortium.
He was eventually shortlisted and later won the tender and proposed the name Yarona Fm which was then registered on his birthday. He says to him there are three critical months May, August and December. Anything bad or good has to happen during these months. One is his birthday, he got licensed in one of these months and registered again during these months. He got licensed on 17th May 1999. He tells of a story when the banks refused to finance him because he does not have a 3 million pula guarantee. At South Africa the Union Alliance Media Company which was listed in the South African Stock Exchange (SASE) bought Y- FM and Anthony Glass from the same company issued a guarantee to Nedbank who also issued a back-to-back guarantee to Barclays Bank. He was guaranteed and issued a licence.
On the 22nd August 1999 at 1600 hours they went live on air for the very first time becoming the first private radio station in Botswana. He ran the station without even a salary until he decided to quit in 2002 and handing over the ropes to Dumi Lopang to carry on as he persuaded other interests.
In the same year the station was awarded a national licence to broadcast countrywide. This to him was a major milestone and biggest achievement of all times.
He recalls that through Yarona FM he was able to buy himself a house and the Verimark franchise which he is currently managing. His biggest dream is to see the station grow to greater heights and transform to digital broadcasting. Early this year, January 15th 2015 Percy was interviewed on BBC Africa and shared the same sentiments of having started the first private national radio station in Botswana. He says the award itself does not belong to him or Yarona FM, it belongs to everyone who excels in their own space.
He says sooner or later broadcasting is going to change; the old or traditional way of radio is catching up with time.
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.