Caught between modernity and 20, 000 years as hunter-gatherers, the San people or Basarwa as they are mostly called, sit at a crossroads. An indigenous people in Southern Africa, they are our oldest human ancestors; DNA testing proving the San are direct descendants of the first Homo sapiens.
But today their culture, traditions and heritage are at risk of being lost forever. The San live across South Africa, Botswana, Angola and Namibia. In Botswana, we call them Basarwa, where they live a largely nomadic lifestyle that has remained undisturbed for millennia. Culture is something that can die and it is dynamic. Basarwa lived in Central Kalahari Game Reserve, or CKGR if you may, and it is the second largest of its kind in the world, and survived by hunting which was passed on to the young generation as years passed by. But in 1997 the government began removing the Basarwa from the reserve, ostensibly to protect the area and integrate the community into mainstream society.
Now based in resettlement village, passing on age-old traditions has become harder and harder for the Basarwa. Some of the kids, Basarwa kids, are taken to schools and they tend to lose their culture because they are taught other ways of living. Also, the famous trance dance, a stalwart of Basarwa culture, could one day suffer at the hands of modern music, played on radios and mobile phones by youths.
From all these challenges, it is proof that indeed culture is dynamic, malleable and susceptible to change- for better or for worse. But with will and determination, some believe the Basarwa have what it takes. This has been made evident by a movie dubbed ‘Jewel in the Sand’ shot in the Ghanzi District in a remote village called Kole, a hub where most of the Basarwa are found even today! The movie is a Lenswood production product in association with AK Films and Visual Brew as its casting agency.
When speaking in an exclusive interview with Weekend Life, co-producer Abednico Rankwe said ‘’the movie strives to tell a tale of Batswana from a rural area perspective, where we tackled the real challenges they face. We also wanted to show the rest of the world how Basarwa have evolved, so we can change the perspective of those who still perceive them to be living in the wild wearing only animal skins. Our movie depicts positivity as we address educational challenges, women empowerment, social inclusion and truancy as it is escalating at higher rates within the Basarwa students’’
The movie has a teacher who goes all out to make sure he attains education for all and in the whole process solving these challenges. These dares are authentic challenges that do exist in the rural areas, Rankwe told Weekend Life reporter Tlhabo Kgosiemang. Telling a story that is so indigenous and legitimate is crucial. It is vital for its own people can say it better. Rankwe believes that it is time Africans, or Batswana in particular tell their stories.
‘’We as Africans should tell our stories to the world than wait for people to come outside and start telling our African stories because they do not tell them exactly as they are. Who is better suited to tell a story about Batswana than us Batswana? It is also starting to prove that developed countries have ran out of stories to tell and have thus turned focus to Africa, and they are telling the world stories we could be telling them, and doing so better!’’
He also indicated that Batswana have a vast wealth of talent that is just waiting for one to mine and export to the world. ‘’Batswana’s talent is more like Jewels in the Sand that need to be unearthed. We have so much talent hidden in the villages far from the city. That is one reason why we shot this movie at a very small unknown village in the Ghanzi District called Kole. We wanted to extract this hidden talent and expose it to the world as we have worked with some actors from the village as well,’’ said Rankwe.
However, the movie will be premiering at New Capitol Cinema late this month. ‘’We are shutting down the Riverwalk Cinema at eight in the evening for this launch; no other movie will be playing but Jewel in the Sand. It will be a red carpet themed ‘’elegant traditional or traditional glamour’’, where we want to infuse traditional attire with modern fashion and still look red carpet friendly,’’ said Rankwe.
The launch comes at the right time to cultivating cinema film culture in Botswana, to making it a custom to have local movies playing in cinemas: not only locally but even in international platforms, Rankwe indicated. ‘’We are as well trying to have another launch outside the country. The group saw it fit to ready the market for the rising stars and producers, subsequently opening the long forbidden doors for them. For the premier night our target market is the corporate and senior government officials, as they are the ones we want on board in spearheading the local film industry. We want to make them aware of the existence and relevance of this industry in the country’s economic development and in job creation’’.
It was also underlined that the intention was to fill up all the four cines at New Capitol Cinema, something that has never been done before. This is made possible by hash tag #FillupNewCapitolRiverwalk, which was created to send a positive message to the government, various stakeholders and film industry enthusiasts that Batswana still stand a chance to make it in this industry, therefore they are called to rally behind the local film industry and to give it more support.’’
The film industry, according to Rankwe, is one dormant industry that if well utilized and fully exploited can help diversify the economy of the country, and it’s basically the point they are trying to emphasize. ‘’We want to raise awareness and even demonstrate that this can be a rich industry so that potential investors can come forth and support it. It is time we get recognition, we get endorsements, funding, support, sponsorship and time we revolutionize this industry.
Shutting down the entire cinema and reserving if for a local production might cause enough waves across all sectors to develop interest in this industry. Of recent it has been difficult for companies and organizations to commit their resources into developing the film industry because they knew less about films and their value, and it is through our initiative to change this perception.
Rankwe stressed that they have extended an invitation to an International Multi Award Winning Film Director Dr Abraham Kabwe from neighbouring Zambia, as well as a surprise appearance from the most internationally celebrated movie star. He however said, they still awaiting confirmation from President Masisi and his wife Neo Masisi. The Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture has since confirmed his attendance.
William Last KRM was offended after he failed to go home with a single award from the Yarona FM Music Awards (YAMAs), to the extent that he put all his frustrations into his new song. The new song, dubbed Heavenly Sent, features songbird Mpho Sebina, and it is already making rotations on social media and radio stations.
On YouTube, Motsetserepa uploaded the song on his channel that has precisely 217 000 subscribers. Heavenly Sent, the new melody, has over 170 thousand views already. The young comedian-turned musician, Motsetserepa dominated the 7th YAMAs but failed to snatch a single award. He was nominated for People’s Choice Artist of the Year, Best Male Single, Best Hip-Hop, Best Social Media and Song of the year. He was the most nominated with Han C. The cover of the new single shows that William Last has won a Grammy Award. Grammy Awards are the United States’ biggest music awards, held annually, to recognize achievement in the music industry.
Perhaps William Last is trying to communicate that he is bigger than the YAMAs. The cover says, “William Last won a Grammy. Congratulations.” The introduction of the video starts with Trevor Noah, a South African comedian and television host who lives in the US, introducing the last award category of the night at the Grammy Awards. The category was Best Rap Song, and William Last’s Tinto was nominated alongside Drake, Roddy Ricch, Lil Baby and Da Baby. The winner was Motsetserepa with his hit Tinto.
After standing ovation from American entertainment industry leaders in his acceptance speech, William Last said, “Thank you so much. It is indeed an honour to be here with you guys. I want to celebrate this award with you, but I want to communicate something really important.” However, the crowd laughed instead, and William Last shouted “stop”. His mood changed and became blue, and Mpho Sebina’s melodic voice appeared in the background.
“I have been telling God that everything is going to be all right. Please don’t get so hopeless long as you make sure I survive. Yeah…yeah, been through hell and back, I’m talking stress to a point ke tima phone when people call don’t wanna answer I hear voices inside of my head, ke bona mewa e mabitleng A batla go raba mathata dingaka e kgarakgatshega ekare malwetse (go siame gale) All these people they ain’t scared when they see me mad I might just snap though I ain’t sending threats Kgale ke bua kopa le ntheetse.”
In this chorus line, William Last talks about how he has been suffering to a point where he avoided contact with people at all costs. He says he has been trying to converse. Therefore people should pin their ears back. He also expresses how he has been taken for granted by a circle of folks who perceive him as a mental case. Some people, he writes in the song, don’t have time for him as if he is impractical to them.
“Buisa phuthego oe tsena botoro Baba lopela ka dipono Nna ke bua ba mpona boroko eish…Ba mpona setomo Bare Motsetserepa gare batle o’ dlala we ain’t got time for you dawg I’m just hoping I don’t flop, like a flip flop Know they hoping that I fall, what for?” Motsetserepa has strong faith that he is heaven-sent and an inspiration to the children of many of the people who bring him down. He considers that his haters are influenced by ego.
“Some of your kids they look up to me, they look up to me. They calling me names, they calling me G, bare ke podi. Some of you guys get killed by ego. Why the hell can’t you just be humble? That’s why your life is too stressful. When you see me in the streets, call me Tinto Once said I’m a do it again, did it again I am a man amongst all man. I’m heavenly sent.”
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.”