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.
A job, lucrative or not, is a job after all. Sometimes one has to compromise in order to make a living, few people get a job their dream jobs. But once in a while there is an emergence of people who listen to their inner calling to pursue their passion.
The founder and head designer of Butterfly Couture, Chawa July is one of those few people who left their job to pursue their passion. An inspiring fact about July is that she is a self-taught fashion designer, she used to copy patterns from her old clothes until she learnt how to draw them, and she also searched information from the internet to increase her knowledge and skills.
“It all started as a hobby from my love for beautiful dresses and I started adjusting and making clothes for myself. Gradually people around me started to take interest in my craft and the hobby slowly grew into a profitable business,” July said.
The 41 year fashion designer from Molepolole worked her way up in the Procurement space for over 10 years. She worked at Stanbic Bank, Kromberg & Schubert and Clover Dairy as a Procurement supervisor. Her last job before she entered the fashion industry was a Manager for Contacts & Sourcing at a Facilities Management Company.
She established her fashion house in October 2019 and it has become synonyms with elegant wedding gowns and exquisite evening wear. July said when designing she is inspired by various aspects such as the client’s personality, the mood of the event and the theme. She further mentioned that every opportunity is to show her craft so she always aims to please.
“Every Butterfly Couture piece must represent the elegance and the creativity the brand is about,” she said. Butterfly Couture has adorned beauty queens; Miss Botswana 2021/2022 Ambrociah Samboko at Miss Universe in South Korea and Miss Botswana 2019,Oweditse Fafah Phirinyane during her reign of which is the highlight of her career. They have also marked their presence in a few fashion events locally and in the neighbouring countries.”
They showcased at The Grand Palm Wedding Expo, Masa Fashion Show, Miss Botswana Fashion Show and Sacunda plus Size Fashion Show. The will also be showcasing at Gabs July Fashion Show on the 15th of July alongside the South African designer, popularly known as the King of glamour David Tlale.
July also identified that one of the challenges they face in the couture is that, it’s a seasonal business. “There are times in the year when the business is great and challenging. Winter in particular, is difficult time to stay afloat as there aren’t as many events that people are inspired to dress spectacularly for,” she said. She further said that her aim is to be a prime couturier of choice in Botswana.
“Craft like your life depends on it because every happy client is 10 more referrals” is what she said when asked to serve a word of wisdom to people hoping to make it in the fashion industry.
The Botswana Gospel Music Awards (BOGMA) and the Annual Gospel Awards (AGA) are said to be no longer in existence and a joint venture project has been put up that will carry out the awarding of gospel musicians.
The new entity has been established as Gospel Music Awards, which is a project at this moment is nearer to dishing out the first Gospel Awards under the leadership of the dissolved entities (BOGMA and AGA). “The difference is the same, it is just that the two projects were run by different minds which had differing objectives,” said the project coordinator, Letsweletse Moshabi when asked what the difference was between the two previous awards.
He added that at this junction their focus is on the future of the gospel musicians and they would like to direct their energies to the new project and forgo the past projects. “The Music market especially the gospel genre is too small and that basically means the very small market was experiencing the imbalance in the supply and demand forces. At that stage, supply was more than the demand so the reason for the joint forces is to allow the supply and demand forces to readjust and form equilibrium,” added Moshabi.
The mandate and objectives of the project are to recognize and award gospel music talent, to create awareness of the Botswana gospel music industry and to create a platform where fellow musicians may exchange ideas and network amongst themselves and approach international markets in cohesion.
The first of these joint awards will be held on the 27th August 2022 at Molapo Showcase under the theme ‘Cohesiveness to Build’ where about 18 categories will be up for grabs.
The Kumnandi Ekhaya musik festival will be held on the 30th September 2022 at Thamaga village. The event coincides with the release of famous host, Dj Ngwazi’s first album called ‘spring day’ on the 2nd of September 2022.
The Thamaga born and raised Lefika Lushen Kebatlege is a disc jockey and a music producer signed under WanitwaMos Entertainment in South Africa. Famously known as Dj Ngwazi and formally known as DJ superstar, he has really worked hard to become one of the finest export DJs the country has produced. Internationally, he is described as a DJ from South African because of his works with popular music artist Master KG.
Meanwhile, the music festival will feature South African artists, Makhazi, Master KG, Prince Benza and Mthunzi. They will also be joined by some of the big local artists, Franco, Vee Mampeezy, among others. “The tickets of the concert will be available at Spar stores, webticket and Kings bar. There will be three categories for VIP tickets, the one that goes for P1000, P1500 and P2200,” said the Kumnandi Ekhaya musik fest promoter Sadie Swartz of Saysay Entertainment.
“We have a new system to tackle the cry of promoters about security at the events. We will have a team of 100 security men, 10 horses and 15 dogs. We also agreed with the police to help with traffic control and no tickets will be sold at the gate to avoid circulation of money which can attract thieves,” said Kagiso Gaodumelwe from All Night Security.
“I started deejaying back in the days when I was still schooling at Kagiso Senior School and I never stopped working towards my career since then. I have a career in South Africa, since 2018 when Master KG took me in and his support as a brother has taken me to places,” said DJ Ngwazi describing his career journey.
“Kumnandi Ekhaya is Zulu language which means ‘go monate ko gae’ in Setswana. The name came about as a way of inviting my South African fans and supporters to my home village Thamaga to come experience the joy that comes with celebrating our freedom and independence. I used isiZulu because it’s the dominant language in South Africa,” explained Dj Ngwazi.
“The concert will be held in an open space which was used for agricultural purposes and we would like to call it ‘Ko Legoleng’. With this concert I want to redeem the dignity of our village because we once had the cases of youth who were terrorizing the community, beating up people in the streets and stealing and these was really a concern in our community because they were tarnishing the village name,” said Dj Ngwazi.
The purpose of this concert is to empower the community of Thamaga and local artist, more especially artist from Thamaga village like, Kgabo Sereto traditional group. There will be a litter picking campaign around the village before the launch of the concert .The sponsors which are already on board are Dladleng Entertainment and Kings bar and there are still more sponsors to be revealed.
”As the Kumnandi Ekhaya musik fest management, we are going to buy food combos and take them to Thamaga village Kgotla so they can be donated to the less privileged and orphans. Starting from October we will be donating pads to all Junior Schools in Thamaga,” said Dj Ngwazi. Dj Ngwazi’s motivational words to other artist and everyone else; work hard, be patient and be determined.