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.
Organisers of the much anticipated As One Music Concert say preparation for the much awaited as one of the music concert are at the peak, with ticket and merchandise sales at a high just 13 days before the event.
In a statement Kesego Okie, Managing Director of Blue Skies PR Agency and event coordinator “The Concert is a celebration of ATI’s journey in music. It is also an incredible platform for all stakeholders, particularly businesses that operate in Francistown, to show their commitment to the resuscitation of the City’s economy following the impact of Covid.
We are grateful for the reception by the city leadership and look forward to cooperate Francistown heeding our call to support the arts, which would in turn, be supporting many livelihoods and small business in the area”.
She expressed gratitude to the public for their immense support evidenced by ticket sales and talk ability, saying this is testimony that indeed As One the nation can go fa in the true spirit of boipelego (self-reliance).
The concert is partnership between Batho Bame Investment and Blue Skies PR Agency. “A lot of work has gone in to prepare for the highlight, and I am thankful to everyone who believes in the dream and supports us. I promise nothing but the very best of me and would love to express my utmost gratitude to all creatives and businesses that are a part of this Journey” Atasaone ATI Molemogi.
The concert will be the first music show taking place within the main pitch of the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium, which was chosen to host because of its distinct state of art ambiance, coupling Francistown’s position as a gate way to many strategic places in Botswana.
Francistown is not only rich in history, but also an enabler for economic activity for unearthed tourist destination surrounding it. It is an honour to have been given the approval by the city leadership and the people of Francistown to host this Concert in their backyard’ ATI.
As part of activities for the 8th edition of Africa’s most prestigious award ceremony, the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCAs), Africa Magic in association with MultiChoice Nigeria will host celebrity movie stars and film directors from Hollywood ahead of the awards ceremony taking place on Saturday, 14 May in Lagos.
The visiting Hollywood stars will be led by Tasha Smith, actress, director and producer, known for her role in the acclaimed films, ‘Why Did I Get Married?’ and its sequel, ‘Why Did I Get Married, Too?’. She will be joined by Bayo Akinfemi, a cast member of the popular television series, ‘Bob Hearts Abishola’ as well as Brandon Micheal Hall of the ‘God Friended Me’ series fame
Also expected are Sidra Smith, award-winning Producer and Head of Essence’s Film and TV Studio and Grant Housley, Hollywood Producer, Writer and Director currently at Paramount Pictures, where he has worked on some of the biggest films and most critically acclaimed television series in the world.
While in Nigeria, the stars will meet with the #AMVCA8 nominees and other industry stakeholders. This historic visit is in line with MultiChoice and Africa Magic’s efforts in sustaining the Africa film making and storytelling momentum, through deliberate global collaboration.
The eighth edition of the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards is brought to viewers by Africa Magic in association with MultiChoice and is proudly sponsored by Amstel Malta. For more information, visit www.africamagic.tv/AMVCA and follow all official handles of Africa Magic on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #AMVCA8
There is a growing unpleasant of artists who do not pitch for events they have been booked for; or simultaneously, there could be another development – false advertising – where artists’ names are used to draw large crowds.
Musicians and promoters in their mission to put bread on the table seem to have resorted to obscene means of securing their means. To many, this is tantamount to fraud and deception to gain an unfair advantage over their unsuspecting fans who swoon at the mention of their name, their presence and entire existence.
The month of May has just begun and bottomless grievances are pouring in of no show musicians at gigs they have been booked and paid for. Instead of leaving the crowd stunned by a spectacular show they are leaving revellers disappointed.
Exhibit A; This past weekend Eswatini’s DJ Uncle Waffles was scheduled to perform in Botswana. She never pitched up for the shows and continues to be silent on her lack of presence at the show. Exhibit B; Maphorisa, Kabza De Small and Sha Sha were all set to perform on 29 April at the Victoria Falls Carnival 10th Anniversary but did not arrive in Zambia for the gig.
In a statement released on Sunday 1 May, Victoria Falls Carnival organisers confirmed that flights and accommodation were organised for DJ Maphorisa, Kabza De Small and Sha Sha. The statement continued; “Confirmations were sent to them as agreed and emails were sent to them several times before, for some reason they did not show up at the airport on the day of travel…
Above and beyond we tried to communicate with the artists to change the date of performance but still we could not get hold of them despite all the effort and all means of communication from our side,” Organisers have demanded that the artists refund them the full booking fee and the payments made for flights and accommodation
“All three artists were paid in full and contractually bound to perform at the Carnival, and accommodated at every corner with their numerous flight and accommodation change requests.” Adds the statement. Exhibit C; South African artist Prince Benza’s passport was confiscated by the Deputy Sheriffs pending payment for damages on breach of contract.
He was scheduled to perform at Mogobane on the 31st of December at the Reflector Music Festival but did not appear as well. He nabbed when he came into the country for a separate event. The President of Botswana Entertainment Promoters Association (BEPA), Gilbert Seagile this week had his company; Gilbert Promotions registered in South Africa.
This puts him in an ideal spot to become an intermediary and help solve the feud between Botswana and South African artists and their no show at events. Seagile emphasized that it’s not only international artists that miss events but even the local artists have the same tendencies. He elaborated that reasons for artists not pitching up are many amongst them ; breach of contracts , promoters not paying deposits and some can be natural like artist testing positive for Covid-19.
The BEPA president also indicated that fly-by-night promoters are also a concern as they do not follow the BEPA Code of conduct, “BEPA members are well coordinated, they have the code of conduct which guides them to do things accordingly. The government is pushing for promoters to join BEPA they have already started refusing with permits when one is not a member of BEPA.” he emphasized
Seagile said that the association is in talks with the South African Music Promoters Association (SAMPA) to provide protection of Botswana Promoters that when artists miss shows they can be able to rope in their lawyers in South Africa through SAMPA and Botswana through BEPA to compensate for losses incurred as a result of this exploitation.
He said another way of dealing with this matter is for Promoters to issue a contract to the artist as currently the norm is that the artist produces the contract to the promoter so this solution can help the promoters to protect themselves.
In an interview with Weekendlife, Superintendent Tumediso of Urban Police Station enunciated that matters of no show artists are normally reported by the promoter who normally comes as the complainant. The matter is then taken forward taking into consideration the evidence, this will in turn assist in determining on whether the case is theft, obtaining by false pretence or fraud. When it is all said and done, revellers love musicians to hate them and hate them to love them. It is an unending toxic relationship which no one wants to pull away from.