Stiger Sola blames some of his producers for his poverty
It is almost close to three decades that legendary folklore musician, Monaga Molefi, has been in the industry. But sadly, the passionate Molefi only has a guitar and local fame to his name. He blames his destitution to some producers who he says used him to enrich themselves at his expense.
Molefi explains that producers robbed him of millions he made through his music. He claims that if it weren’t for the two producers, one locally-based and the other a South African, he would today be ranked among the richest musicians in Botswana.
In an interview with WeekendLife, Stiger Sola – as Molefi is affectionately known to his followers – narrated the road he has walked in his music career. He talks about it in a way a fallen hero would, painting a sad picture of unscrupulous producers he met along the way.
Born 55 years ago in Maun, Molefi’s love for music was bred by her late mother who he regards was a great singer. He says he got the passion and loyalty for music from her.
According to Molefi her mother was known in Maun for her vocals, so she always had gigs to perform at and she would always take young Molefi along to witness her mother on stage. This is where his love for music grew. He believes the spirits, through his mother, called him to music and feels that music is in his blood as part of him.
Molefi realized that he could not only sing but could also compose songs. In 1973, Molefi started to play a home-made, four-string guitar as he sang his folklore music. He continued to play and sing using his home-made guitar until 1980, when he finally managed to buy his first acoustic guitar.
It was at this stage that he realized and believed that his life-long dream of becoming a great singer was gradually becoming true.
The name of Stiger Sola started to grow big and circulate at a faster pace in Botswana. Even abroad, Molefi attracted big international music dealers who wanted to work with him.
His increasing popularity tickled and encouraged him to always surpass himself with each new song he wrote and performed.
Molefi says all he saw was success in his future and was not aware of the lurking predators among the smiling and willing producers who promised to take his career further.
In 1997, he was called in by prominent South African music producer who owned recording studios in Johannesburg, who produced his first ever album titled Khubama. In 1998 he released another album titled Mamelodi under the same studio.
Molefi says it is these two albums that have fuelled both his international fame and further demand of his music. He recalls that in South Africa he was labeled among the best folklore musicians. He found himself at various gigs sharing the stage with big international music legends, in the likes of the late Mahlatini, Lucky Dube, Brenda Fassie and today’s master guitarist, Ray Phiri.
It is through these two albums that Molefi broke new ground by becoming the first ever Motswana to scoop the South African Music Award (SAMA) in 1998. He succeeded against well-established music legends who were nominees for the award (Johnny Mokhali, Steve Kekana and Brenda Fassie). The same year he also won the first Botswana Music Award of 1998.
Molefi decries that even though the demand and selling of his albums were very high, all the money being made went to his producers’ accounts. He explains that he only got more and more fame while the money went to producers. He regrets his lack of legal knowledge and his ignorance of how the music industry works, saying this cost him greatly.
“I remember when I arrived in South Africa; a renowned SA producer gave me some papers to sign. But I never asked what they were for, so he also did not bother to tell me,” says Molefi. “So when I always tried to complain about him cheating me, he would produce these papers claiming to be proof that we agreed to share the money.”
Molefi claims that the two albums alone were reported to have made over 2 million Rand in a short period of time. But he says out of these millions, the Recording Studios only paid him 20 thousand Rand.
After realizing that his producer was robbing him of his money, Molefi broke ties with the Recording Studios in 2001. He came back home to Botswana with little money in his account.
In Botswana, he met another local music producer, a gospel singer, who owned a recording studio. The same year he released an album titled Galalela, followed by another two albums of Bana ba dikole and Sethukuthuku.
But Molefi says the local producer was no different from the South African producer, claiming that the local producer also robbed him of his earnings, leading to breaking up of their business ties.
“When it was time to get my earnings from him, he would tell me stories that the company sales representatives are stealing the money. So due to that, he would always give me peanuts out my own money. This was an everyday excuse when it was time to get my money,” he said.
In 2006 the South African producer again promised to work things out with Molefi. He called him back to the studio in South Africa.
In the same year, they released their third album together titled Khoi Khoi. But, according to Molefi, the producer was still the same untrustworthy business partner. He claimed that the producer continued to take much of his money into his personal accounts.
Molefi told Weekend Life that it was then that he said his final bye byes to the South African recording studio.
The legend came back home to Botswana with only a guitar in his possession. He reveals that his pockets were totally empty and feared the poverty looming to strike his household.
These financial circumstances, stalled and affected his music career, he says, since he did not have any money to carry on with his music career and, for lengthy periods, was unable to perform at any gigs.
Fortunately, Molefi met Emcee Keal of Keal Entertainment, a Maun-based producer.
Molefi says the producer sympathized with him and agreed to help resurrect his music career.
Under Keal Entertainment, he released an album titled Ko Morakeng in 2006. But now that the album was being released by a local studio, it did not perform well on the market as compared to the past ones. He explains that, because he was struggling with money, he failed to market the album nationwide and was only known to a few locals in Maun.
A dejected Molefi says even to today, he is finding it hard to survive in the music industry, adding that his music career continues to drown. Molefi sees himself as a fallen legend whose efforts can only be seen in Presidential Competitions and other local events surrounding Maun.
Though he labels himself as a man of God who eyes to be a pastor in the near future, Molefi laments that he will never forget nor forgive what Gospel Singer Mpho Nakedi and Richard Siluma did to his life.
“It is a pain that I will die with in my heart, it’s something that is hard to be forgotten and forgiven,” he says.
He explains to Weekend Life that what hurts him most is that even to the present day his past albums are reported to be still selling lots of copies and millions are getting into their accounts. He says that there are no royalties that he benefits from. Molefi explained that he recently tried to find legal assistance so that he can also claim his music royalties. But, unfortunately, he has been told that the case needs money, which he does not have.
Molefi has found solace in his new producer. He says he trusts in him and that he is totally different from the past two producers he met before.â€¨He is currently working on a new album which is expected to be released in April this year.
Once again, Hanceford Magapatona emerged the biggest winner with ease at the 7th Yarona FM Music Awards (YAMAs) this past weekend. Famously known as Han C in the music industry, the 27-year old self-taught singer and songwriter snatched the titles of YAMAs People’s Choice Artist of the Year and Best Male single for his all-time hit ‘Padi padi’.
Han C did not go home empty-handed as there were good monies for each category, courtesy of First National Bank Botswana, Mascom and Now TV. The two prestigious awards earned him P60 000 and P25 000 each, making him the biggest winner of the night. After being announced as the winner under the Best Male Single, Han C took to social media to express his serenity about the achievements. He said, “words cannot explain how I feel right now, but all I can say is thank you much to the people who have been showing us love and support.
Special shout out to Yarona FM for giving us this platform to showcase our talents and creativity. I also would love to give a special shout out to all the sponsors for making this happen. We appreciate all of you.” When getting his People’s Choice Artist of the Year award, Han C showed deference to artists nominated with him under this category. Even though they could not go home with the prize, Mahalapye-born acknowledged that they are equally artistic. “Getting a nomination for this award is quite an achievement on its own, mainly because you are nominated alongside brilliant, amazing good artists—a special shout out to my team. We put in the work; I think we should continue doing so.
PREVIOUS AWARDS NOMINATIONS
Han C’s hard work and dedication have garnered him recognition in the local scenes. And it would look suspicious if he didn’t get an accolade or two. In 2018, he was nominated YAMAs Artist of the Year, Best Male Artist, and Song of the Year (Mafurafura), Best Collabo (Mafurafura) and Best Dance Single (Mafurafura). In 2016, he was nominated for Song of the Year (SediLaaka) and Best Collaboration (SediLaaka). He won Best New Artist in 2016, Artist of the Year (2018) and Best Dance Single 2018.
MOTSETSEREPA LOSES ALL NOMINATIONS
Local comedian-turned musician Bofelo William Molebatsi, known as William KRM Last saw dust at the recently held 7th YAMAs. After being the most nominated artist, William Last did not go home with any of his nominated awards. He was nominated under: People’s Choice Award of the Year category, won by Han C, Song of the Year taken home by La Tonde and Names, Best Male Single (Han C), Best Hip-hop (snatched by Ozi F Teddy) as well as Best Social Media (Mjamaica).
He, however, took to social media to share the devastating news, which came as a slapping blow right on his face. “Wow! Whenever I think of the huge success of my Amara Willian album, I always cry happy tears. I celebrate and thank God for where he has brought me to with all this big brand success. This is especially through the greatest love from my supporters/fans all over. They are a million followers of my brand and the views that I always get on my daily posts all over my social media platforms. These big numbers scream love and appreciation to me so loud. I appreciate the love and support; God bless.”
OTHER YAMAS 2021 WINNERS
Peoples’ Choice Song of the year was awarded La Tonde and Names for their song ‘Dibulele’. YAMAs 2021 Inductee to the Yarona FM Hall Of Fame was the late Sasa Klaas. Sasa Klaas died in a helicopter crash on March 5th 2021, near Sojwe. She was an all-around musician mostly known for her hip-hop culture.
Producer of the year was snatched by MB on the Beat, while Boipelo Seleke scooped the YAMAs 2021 Icon award. Seleke went home with P25 000 while MB on the Beat only earned himself P10 000. The new Mokaragana hostess Girly left the YAMAs as the new awardee of Best Female Single for her song ‘BMW’. Best Amapiano went to Deejay Bino’s ‘Touch’ featuring the late Sasa Klaas, Rasun and Da QuTness.
Further, Lloyd BW and Priscilla K’s ‘Have You Ever’ won Best Dance Single, while Best Collaboration was won by FlyBoi Que featuring Jordan MoOzy and FME Luther October on their hit ‘Ndeya’. Ozi F Teddy also made a debut appearance of the YAMAs nominations and snatched Best Hip Hop for his song ‘Negotiate’, where he features Murda.
Almost every year, Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) attracts hullabaloo over its annual music awards. This time around, it was not only that. There has been much noise around compliance, Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development involvement in the affairs of this organisation, as well as the contentious sponsorship from the Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS).
Following a four-year hiatus, BOMU awards found themselves being the talk of the town due to unfair practices some artists claim clouded the non-complying organisation. These are serious accusations that BOMU has since rubbished as deliberate actions intended to tarnish its reputation.
Some disgruntled artists recently took to the streets to protest against these practices. However, these are not subscribing members of BOMU. Before being cut short by the Police, these artists demanded that the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development Tumiso Rakgare step down immediately. They claim that Rakgare has failed his mandate.
On the other hand, they demanded that the Youth Ministry reverse the P500 000 it has splashed on the BOMU awards, and the money be split among artists. A lead protester in these activities, Rhumba artist General Tuco, told Weekendlife that BOMU management should halt the awards and instead clean the organisation’s dirty laundry.
He further indicated that they would be dropping a petition at the DBS offices, urging the group to revoke the P1.5 million sponsorship it has awarded BOMU. Because these discontented artists claim that BOMU is non-compliant, they will also be marching to the Registrar of Societies to express their grievances.
In an interview this week, General Tuco said they are still engaging their attorney to formalise their protest and give them a way forward. The Police deny them a permit to hold their rally. According to information gathered last week, the artists were arrested and released the same day and asked to apply for a protest permit.
BOMU PRESIDENT SPEAKS
BOMU President Phemelo Lesokwane told a media member on Wednesday that “We have seen people on social media dragging our name on the mud as BOMU. They say we are non-compliant, corrupt and unfair. When we get to see who these people are, they are not our members. They call themselves artists, but as legalised agents of artists in Botswana, we do not know them, neither do we know what they are talking about. We condemn these acts.”
Lesokwane rubbished allegations that BOMU is not compliant. “We see journalists giving these guys who masquerade as artists more prime time for them to tarnish our name. But they do not have the evidence. BOMU is compliant, and we have all the documents. We also have verified documents from the Registrar of Societies, who are our key stakeholders.”
Talking about being backbitten, Lesokwane claims that government officials from the Registrar of Societies are promoting what unregistered artists are making noise about in the corridors. Some of these officers fed the Youth Minister Rakgare wrong information about BOMU. BOMU has much work to do in-house.
Further, Lesokwane revealed that when they took over the office, BOMU was mugged some of its finances. Investigations are ongoing to retrieve such monies, he said. As if that is not enough cleaning, Lesokwane has a headache dealing with another faction dubbed BW Artists, which represents artists in the Northside of the country.
“If you could look into the management of this organisation, you would question their interests. Two of them are politicians. Once they fail primary elections, they come back into the music industry and cause chaos. I always say I am going to fight with everything I have together with my team to make sure that we protect artists in Botswana.”
JOURNALISTS FINGERED IN THE BOMU MESS
BOMU President Lesokwane has accused journalists of being biased and unfair to his organisation. He stressed that BOMU depends on members of the press to help rebuild the dying Botswana music industry. “Most articles about our artists speak negatively about them. Foreign artists are always given priority instead of our local artists, but we value journalists as our equally significant stakeholders. We can grow this industry together.”
These media reports, Lesokwane said, have forced stakeholders to withdraw their sponsorships towards the BOMU awards, slated for October 2021. At times they are required to answer for hearsays that are not accurate. He reiterated that BOMU has nothing to hide as it is compliant.
BOMU MUSIC AWARDS CONSULTANT SPEAKS
BOMU Music Awards Consultant Seabelo Modibe has been topping the charts for a long good time. His appointment as a consultant was notorious as critics felt his company was relatively premature at the time of appointment.
He joined the BOMU get-together at the time the awards were still distressed by the hubbub. Many asked if he would manage the heat, but clearly, Modibe is having a hard time. He, however, stressed that BOMU is open to criticism.
“Lot of people say BOMU has been given money to waste. That is not precise. It has sold its product, its broadcasting rights. They were sold for P1.5 million to the DBS. Our contract is for a year, and we will be going back to them in December. MYSC has acquired what we call commercial rights. These are rights that someone buys to promote their mandate. MYSC seeks to promote local music using BOMU awards.”
Mpho Donald was undoubtedly the IT girl of the then tedious beauty industry. She loved looking pretty and smelling good. Of course, this is every girl’s dream, but making a living out of it doesn’t flash into many of these girls’ dreams.
Besides, it used to be a lot more common for the majority of entrepreneurs to be male in the past. However, in recent years the number of female entrepreneurs in the world has been on the rise. She is from a family of business-minded people. Both parents were entrepreneurs, but that is not why Donald is a powerful woman in this entrepreneurial space. At one point, life threw lemons at her, and she made lemonade.
At the age of 38, Donald has been to South Africa more than once. These frequent hazardous trips at the time were to acquire secret elements into being a real hustler. She would get robbed, risk being raped or hijacked, but she survived.
“At one point, life got too difficult to an extent where I found myself doing piece jobs for other people just so I earn something to buy toiletry, food and clothes even. I did laundry, and in the entire process, I got tired. I had to think about business, and it was easy because I come from a line of people who believe in trading. Somehow I got motivated, but I never wanted to work for anyone in life.”
Before embarking on shadowing missions in South Africa, Donald would go around the capital city, hunting for customers. Kgale Mews, Commerce Park are urban offices for various companies, but this did not restrict her from knocking, selling makeup, jewellery and accessories.
She was known for this particular hustle in all the offices. Some people will get exhausted because of her irritating products, but that did not stop her from acquiring a tiny spot in Main Mall. She pitched her gazibo, and her next items on display were plus size women’s outfits. These women are often overlooked, especially on beauty pageantry. The controversial Miss Plus Size Botswana pageant never saw the light of the day ever again.
“I guess that was after I saw the pains of plus-sized women when it came to shopping for something to wear. Being a plus-size woman made it easy for me to penetrate this space. I modelled all my clothes and advertised them on social media.”
Social media opened many doors for so many entrepreneurs. Donald can attest to that. She told Weekendlife that “People started coming in to buy both makeup and the clothes. Then, later on, I started selling second-hand clothes and while at it, I moved to my first shop. I think for me taking risks has never really been any scary because I convinced myself that in any case, I fall, I will rise again.”
“So I went boldly into everything that I could do at the time. I would travel to South Africa to places I never knew. I got my stock there, and even when I got robbed, I knew I would eventually reach my destination. It surely wasn’t an easy walk in a park, but I persevered,” she said.
From her mini boutique, Donald went full force into buying and supplying second-hand clothes. “As the COVID-19 lockdowns hit us, I was busy at work pushing the idea on mini bails and second-hand clothes. So it came down to my mind that I have to know what to sell in which season. It was a trial and error kind of hustle, but once you get a grip of it, you begin to sail smoothly.”
Donald currently supplies small businesses across the country. She gets to enjoy a good relationship with her customers, who are in other countries even. “It took me much effort, commitment and loyalty to be where I am today. I guess I could now boldly say that hard work is beginning to pay off. I have started knocking on bigger doors for partnerships, and I believe that if I can get them, beauty plus size clothing will be elevated to the next level.”
Mpho Donald is originally from Serowe. She studied her O and A-levels in Zimbabwe at the Specis College. Still, in Zimbabwe, she enrolled and qualified as a Travel and Tourism expert. She said in an interview that she will be venturing into other hustles too but couldn’t reveal which ones now. Donald is optimistic that everything will be ready and served in 2022.