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Andre Brink: His ink wont dry


News of the death this past week of South African Afrikaner writer and novelist, Andre Brink, while traveling home from receiving an honorary degree in Amsterdam, Europe, caught me completely by surprise – leaving me, like so many of his readers, in a state of utter shock and sadness.


Best known for his large anti-apartheid canon, including such acclaimed works as An Instant in the Wind, Looking on Darkness, A Dry White Season, Rumours of Rain and A Chain of Voices, Brink’s work stretched from the years of life under apartheid through to the post-1994 era of a new, democratic dispensation in South Africa.


While, as a student at the University of Botswana (UB), in the late 1980s, I would occasionally write reviews of books that I happened to read for Mmegi’s then weekly ‘Arts and Culture’ column, I would nevertheless remain largely unaware of this great writer until one friend of ours – incidentally a long-term black, South African refugee residing in Botswana at the time – lent me some of his own copies of Brink’s work to read.


However, of all his works, the one book by this author that would leave an enduring and indelible impression on me was An Instant in the Wind, a book set in the 18th century colonial Cape society, published in 1976, in which, as could be expected only of Brink, and in complete reversal of the prevailing racial and social dynamics of South African society at the time, describes a rather unheard-of, interracial relationship between a white woman, Elisabeth Larson,  and her male, Hottentot slave lover, Adam.


Struck also by the book’s powerful and evocative descriptions of the Cape and the greater, semi-arid Karoo region’s landscape and vegetation, I would find myself getting re-immersed in its pages, again, aboard the Inter-cape coach during a trip to Cape Town, in the early nineties.  


Then, over time, I would also come across another one of Brink’s masterpieces, A Dry White Season, published in 1979, and written against the background of the turbulent era of the 1970s, following on the Soweto 1976 student uprising. In it, Brink chronicles the trials and tribulations of a white, Afrikaner schoolteacher – some Donald Woods or Braam Fischer type of character, as some might say – who finds himself increasingly drawn into the life of his black gardener, Gordon, who is searching for the truth about the fate of his son, Jonathan, who had been detained and died in police custody following his arrest at a student protest.


Now, reading A Dry White Season, you might also have thought, ‘Now, here is a white dude who is sacrificing all that his white skin entitles him to under apartheid, at great cost to himself and his family life, in order to help a black gardener look for his son who has disappeared while in police detention’


But, as Brink makes clear in this book, the struggle against apartheid was, at the end of the day, not only about ensuring that blacks enjoyed the civil and political liberties like other South African citizens, but for all of humanity to be, once and for all, rid of the shackles of a rabid apartheid ideology – one which the United Nations had long since denounced as a crime against humanity.  


As it is, then, the book showed in a very powerful and profound manner some of the daily and difficult choices faced by both black and white, alike, and at a more personal level, as they navigate their way through the maze of life under apartheid.


And though in his later books – The Other Side of Silence, Praying Mantis, The Rights of Desire, Philida, etc. – Brink had begun to turn his attention more pointedly at problems faced by the new, democratic society, his lasting impression in many readers’ minds will undoubtedly be one of an author who, quite early on, stood up to the apartheid rulers of the time to dare to envision a more just and equitable society in which black and white could live as equals and enjoy equal opportunities – this at a time when many of his contemporaries would have thought apartheid invincible and the so-called ‘white supremacy’ a given.


An accomplished and greatly celebrated author and academic, Brink had been a longtime Professor of Literature at Rhodes University in Grahamstown and, more lately, at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Perhaps inevitably for him, as one of the more prominent white public intellectuals with whom both the mainstream media and tabloid press at times get overly fascinated with – to the point of letting us know that at the time of his death Brink was in his sixth marriage – thus putting him in league with the likes of Elisabeth Taylor and Zsa Zsa Gabor, but who, as Brink commented in a later interview, were “not people I necessarily respect.”

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WeekendLife

‘Mindset’ unlocks positive mindset

2nd February 2023
At the age of 17, Boniface Lewanika is ready to take over the world. He has shown commitment to being the next big thing to ever emerge from Botswana. Mindset MusiQ, as he is affectionately known, is a self-taught music producer. The story of how Mindset started music production can be traced back to end-to-end lockdowns, which jaded him to the core.

At least, for Mindset MusiQ, these lockdowns were a blessing in disguise. He got to unlock the hidden potential in him, or maybe, the creativity that he never knew about. Being locked down meant that Mindset MusiQ has plenty of time to waste, but he was quick to switch his mindset to coming up with something positive.

He saw it much better to waste time on the internet. Well, for lot of people, the internet was the only saving grace then. But for Mindset MusiQ, it was the beginning of a journey that he intends to walk for the rest of his life.

“I became a music producer because I love music. I then asked myself why I should not make music, that’s when in 2020 during lockdowns I started watching YouTube tutorials on how to make music. I didn’t have any knowledge on how to produce a song. YouTube introduced me to Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) which is a software used for music production.”

The Letlhakane born then downloaded his first software which was Ableton Live, which was way too complex and distorted. “I felt it was too hard to learn and I switched to FI studio which was also complicated but fortunately, easy to use. Because I don’t have a good voice to sing, music production became too good to me and very flexible to embark on.”

Mindset MusiQ became part of the Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS) national roadshow, after being picked from the capacity building workshop. He was challenged to speak to the audience, fellow creatives (artists and music producers) and his presentation caught the eye of the adjudicator, DJ Fresh.

“I heard about the artist’s capacity building workshop from my mother, who saw it on Facebook. My father immediately reacted and dropped me off and even though I was late, the host then introduced me and the rest became history. As we speak, I am part of the Top 30, and we will be having the finale on the 11th of February in Gaborone.”

Being on the Top 30 for Mindset MusiQ is a dream come true. This is because he wasn’t even told that there will be a boot camp and grand prizes, and he has always wanted to advance his premature music career. He said this has shown that he is on the right track.

“Working with DJ Fresh is really cool. It’s not everyone who can be afforded that opportunity and the experience humbles me all the time. Already, I have rocked the Thando remix and I can’t wait to do more with his mentorship.”

Mindset MusiQ is currently in South Africa working on cooking more music with industry moguls. He was invited by producer Trey Bankz and some colleagues from Imperial City Music, a new record label in Johannesburg

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WeekendLife

All The Star She Is lands on BTV

2nd February 2023
With zero existence of TV programs empowering women in Botswana, a new show that strives to make that news of the past has just started airing on the tedious BTV. At least, after so many years, All The Star She Is will inspire viewers to see a new change in terms of supporting women in Botswana.

Each incredible series celebrates women but not from all walks of life, but those who are turning heads in the entertainment industry. The show will cast a bright light on women who have conquered tremendous obstacles and weathered the storms.

In an exclusive interview with WeekendLife on Monday, Director of Cosign267 Koone Boikaego said the show reveals the paths that these phenomenal women took to be where they are in the entertainment and media industry.

Cosign267 is a 100% youth owned film and TV Production Company led by Boikaego. It has worked with a number of organization, executing various projects such as filming, shooting, editing and one-on-one couch interviews.

The youthful company recently wrapped up the Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS) three months’ national roadshow and boot camp. It was assigned with capturing all moments of the roadshow, alongside Thato DJ Fresh Sikwane.

“Celebrating women is one thing that is often overlooked. We put together this project to take followers into the lives of creative and incredible women. They are determined to break walls and pave way for the next generation of women. In this show, these women serve viewers with factual stories of how they started and what it takes to be at the forefront, the bittersweet experiences that took them that far. It’s really a show that many young girls can draw inspiration from.”

Breaking down the show plan, Boikaego said airs every Saturday on BTV at 6PM, hosted by One Rabantheng. Rabantheng, famously known as Divine Diva is a media and marketing consultant, legendary radio personality who worked for Duma FM, e-TV and RB2, where she was shown the door for speaking foul of the then President without being aware that the microphone is on.

There are thirteen stars to be featured on the new show, therefore, this means that there will be thirteen episodes. Some of the familiar faces featured on the TV show are: Mpho Sebina, Olorato Ledique, Oratile Kebakile, Nnunu Ramogotsi, Tumi Ramsden, Kelly Ramputswa, Tshepie Olds, Winx Motcher, Mmaphala, Loretta and Nicole Martinez among others.

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WeekendLife

Lifestyle enthusiasts feel Big Brother vibes

27th January 2023

This past weekend MultiChoice Botswana hosted media and lifestyle enthusiasts in Oodi for an evening of fun, drama and everything in between. The treat dubbed Big Brother Titans Botswana media challenge basically recreated the Big Brother experience right here in Botswana.

Big Brother Titans is the joint South African and Nigerian edition of the Big Brother franchise. The series follows contestants as they live in an isolated house and compete for a cash prize at the end of the show by avoiding being evicted from the house by the viewers.

These viewers vote their favorite housemates to stay on the show. The show features housemates from South Africa and Nigeria. The first season of the show premiered on January 15 2023 on DStv.

DStv Botswana Corporate Affairs Manager, Thembile Legwaila told WeekendLife that they saw it critical to host media friends to experience how it feels by being in the Big Brother house.

“For the very first time in history of Big Brother, we’ve seen the merging of two superpowers, Mzansi and Naija, with the Big Brother Titans season and what a better way to celebrate the monumental season than hosting our media friends.”

THE LOVE

Participants were treated to top notch reception complimented by the Oodi sunset which just blew them away. A special shuttle was organized from Gaborone to Oodi, at a farm house that is just incredible in terms of design, aesthetics and ambience.

Of course they were welcomed by soft cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages for those who are not drinkers, and the next booth was an opportunity for housemates to introduce themselves to the man of the house, Biggie. RB2’s new baby Mdu the Party played the role of Biggie, and he nailed the character.

Some of the contestants were asked what they will do with the grand prize of P5000. With my ongoing voluntary movement, #Pad4HER, I needed the cash prize to push the campaign.  #Pad4HER is a campaign that I started last year with an aim of helping female students from disadvantaged backgrounds to have access to sanitary towels. Anyway, luck was not on my side but my colleague from The Botswana Gazette, Gosego Motsumi emerged as the winner.

We got done with the questions and made way into the house. The party began with more drinks and the first challenge kicked off. For this particular challenge, we were divided into pairs. I was matched with Motsumi and we won the first challenge.

WINNING STRATEGY

Other housemates asked how we managed but it was simple: we had a strategy before embarking on the challenge. We sat down and debated on what we need to do in order to emerge victorious.

DStv engaged a phenomenal local chef, Rachel Tlagae who served some enchanting, light meal. Its Big Brother Titans so we ought to mind what we eat and also take note of quantities. Chefs also brought some wine to go with the meal and everyone was contented.

THE WINNING CHALLENGE

Housemates were taken through the last challenge: mental ability. This particular challenge needed them to know who they are as well as knowing their fellow housemates. It was one of the simplest challenges yet difficult. This is where I lost lot of points even though I was at the top (after winning the first challenge).

These housemates were all unique in their own way. From the media side was myself, Sharon Mathala, Leungo Mokgwathi, Gosego Motsumi and Nancy Ramokhua. This is a team which did exceptionally well altogether. Motsumi emerged as the winner, followed by Mathala and me on fourth position.

The third position was won by Loungo Pitse from influencer’s side, and he tagged alongside DJ Gouveia, Dato Seiko, Kedi Molosiwa and Gape Makwati.

Legwaila said “We wanted to have a healthy mix of traditional media (print and radio) as well as social media personalities, artists and content creators in the house. We chose individuals who were characteristically different from each other because variety and diversity is important to us. We of course chose those with outgoing personalities as well as those who are a little more introverted as we wanted the interaction to be authentic and organic. We wanted a solid group of individuals who represented the many different people that make up this beautiful country.”

DSTV IS COOKING SOMETHING

When quizzed if there are plans to have a similar Big Brother Titans Botswana, Legwaila said “MultiChoice Africa is focused on entertaining audiences all over Africa with the current Big Brother franchises; BB Titans, Mzansi and Naija. Though we have no immediate plans to have a Big Brother Botswana in the future, we are continuously looking at ways to entertain our Botswana audience with local content and we are excited for what’s to come in the next few weeks from our country.”

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