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Sereetsi; A Master of arts

Growing up in the dusty streets of Somerset Township in Francistown, music was the only thing that comforted people, when you had it you would flaunt it. To him music became part of his life. Having passed through the stage of being a newspaper Editor, he bears a strong character, he developed a thick skin and he is not easily shaken, he is the body of skills, and mastermind behind a unique album that a few months ago not only blew the entire industry but set the bar high in terms of local productions Writes DAVE BAAITSE.

From a tender age, music was the only art discipline that he fell in love with before theatre and writing. This was best influenced by the environment in which he grew up, a township where he was exposed to loud music playing from drinking spots or just neighbours who had bought a new cassette and wanted to show off. He recalls the beats of Disco, the melody of Reggae and thumps of Mosako, the popular township music of the late 80’s and early 90’s he was often exposed to.

Tomeletso Sereetsi could be best described as a force to reckon with. After graduating from the University of Botswana with a double major in English and Sociology, he was first recruited to Mmegi Newspaper as a reporter, where he did not stay long before moving to Echo Newspaper, rising through the ranks until he became the Chief Editor. Through his professional journalism career, he later found himself at the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) based in Palapye, a move he jokingly dispels and tells how he does not know how it came about. At the end of his contract, Sereetsi who had a burning desire to give full attention to his calling in music was more than determined to hit the ground running. He did not want to extend his contract.  

Eventually, this led to the birth of his first studio recording album Four Strings Confessions which was released in April 30, 2015. The album which made headlines, left many jaw dropped went abuzz on social media and has won many hearts. The album was well crafted and bore diverse elements of musical productions roped into a single creativity that endured a wide spectrum of creativity with a basis of Setswana culture dominating.

He reveals that Radio Botswana, being the only station that played when he was growing up played a major role in exploring his talent as a musician. He still recalls how he used to steal a radio as a small boy listening to great shows like hard rock, Country music which played the greatest artist of all times like Dolly Parton, Dobie Gray and others. His favourite show by then was called Come- Together which according to him played the greatest bands.

He was however introduced to his magical instrument, a four string guitar by a program called Dipina le Maboko which paled during weekends. It played some of the talented Batswana four string guitarists and his all time favourite player was a Lecheng born Toko who was known as ‘Phunyaselesele’. Others were Phika Ditsebe, Clever Sibanda, Sam Raditsebe just to mention a few.

The beauty of playing this magical instrument was later translated into a book because according to Sereetsi, people look down on it and take it for granted. He would also write a book, also entitled “Four String Confessions” to preserve the tradition of the four string guitar. It was the pressure that came with the book that finally had start working on the album; the book brought a lot of criticism with it, as after its publishing some people questioned how he could write on an instrument he himself could not play.

It is safe to say that through the album, Sereetsi has managed to silence all his doubters. His album has, for the better part of the year, and since its release been the talk of town, and its launch last weekend was just testament to that.  The launch was competing against two major events that coincided with his show, The BOPEU Live Concert featuring Tshepo Tshola at Stanbic Molapo Piazza and Mascom Live Sessions Featuring Lira and Samantha Mogwe at Botswana Craft. However Sereetsi who was performing for a sober audience at Maitisong Theatre had his show sold out at a venue which has a four hundred and fifty sitting capacity.

A special moment for the crisp voiced folklore artist, “This was special and I was feeling emotional, it gives hope in terms of our music industry considering that I did not get any support from the corporate world,” said Seeretsi in an interview with WeekendLife.  To him working at a big institution like BIUST was a great experience, he was exposed to people who made him aware of his potential. It made him realise the abnormity and capacity of understanding what he can do.  He currently seats home and makes music, which is now the main thing that puts bread on his table and pays his bills.             

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200,000 Members of International Church Hold Virtual Prayer Service for Covid-19

22nd September 2020

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.”

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AFRIMMA nominates Vee Mampeezy

22nd September 2020

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.

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Miss Earth Botswana catwalks to save the environment

22nd September 2020

Miss Earth Botswana is an annual local environmental-themed beauty pageant competition promoting environmental awarenessconservation and social responsibility. The reigning Queen dedicated her year to promoting specific projects and often addressing issues concerning the environment.

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.

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