When the year 2020 took off, there was great excitement and hope for a bright and exciting chapter for many people. Among those who glorified 2020 were performing artists – they scheduled a plethora of events and music shows that were eagerly awaited by fans.
All of these planned activities collapsed with the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent State of Emergency declared by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi. The extreme social distancing restriction has scattered and shattered dreams! Artists feel they got the sharp end of the deadly pandemic as their daily bread and butter comes from the creative industry. Most artists are currently at home clinging to the hope that government consider them as well as the many employed within the creative industry.
Things have gone from bad to worse for the music industry as the country gears up for a six months State of Emergency despite the fact that 28 days extreme social distancing concludes end of this month. There is a chance of an extension though. Artists say they face a possible bleak and hungry future as they do not know where their source of income would be as long as the extreme social distancing measures are in place.
WeekendLife took time to dialogue with some of the artists to hear how they are coping with the lockdown.“Pretty much like everyone else I am in lockdown and can’t work because people are not allowed to assemble. Festivals and conferences have been cancelled or postponed and at this rate even those postponed may not even happen later in the year. Indications are showing that things will come back to normal in 2021.
I was booked for a lot of festivals in Botswana and internationally as well as for some conferences. I also had my own events organised for Sereetsi & The Natives’ 5th year anniversary. I had recording sessions lined up. All these cannot happen because of this extreme social distancing. Right now I can’t earn a living because I am stuck at home,” local Jazz sensation Tomeletso Sereetsi of Sereetsi and the Natives shared with WeekendLife.
He further stated that, though this may seem hard for him, he has decided to use this time to do things that matter the most to him. “On the flipside, this is a chance for me to spend time with family, recharge my batteries and reflect on my work and my place in the world. It is also an opportunity to create new music and strategise for the new post COVID-19 environment. As they say “adapt or die”, it is time to prime myself not to be left behind in the ensuing new business normal.”
“I will be hosting online concerts for as long as the lockdown continues. People need music to take their spirits off the gloom and doom of Covid-19. I had my first Facebook Live concert on my artist page which was a resounding success. It went for well over, 1hour 30 minutes. The demand for another one was huge. As part of the concerts, I am sharing words of encouragement as well as messages from health officials.
I have also contributed to the Covid-19 campaign on BWGovernment. It is not rocket science that Covid-19 lockdown means that artists cannot earn a living. The online concert is part of an effort to raise a buck and hopefully, be able to also contribute to the national Covid-19 Relief Fund.”The next Facebook Live concert session is slated for Thursday 23 April 2020 at 7:30pm.
“The concert series is called Serubing Live Session 2. The first was Serubing Session 1. Music lovers can tune in to the live concert by liking and following my artist page so that they are alerted of the performances when they happen,” he said. Sereetsi urged government to include artists in the relief fund. “Government should help the creative sector as well because it employs a lot of people as well. It may be largely informal but it is feeding a lot of families. It also deserves a rescue package. The creative sector should be included in P2billion government rescue package,” he said.
Meanwhile songbird Amantle Brown, shared with WeekendLife that she was booked for three shows and they had to be cancelled. The songstress is home wondering where her bread will come from. “This lockdown has locked us down indeed, some of us have been on lockdown before lockdown even began. The financial side of things is showing us dust. For me it’s cool because I have a studio in my house, but coming to think of it, I do not have money and I do not know how I am going to make money.
I am just wondering if these people are thinking of us, are we even considered in anything. The lockdown is something I wish to never happen again,” she lamented.Brown has currently set up a mini studio at home where records her music, and spends most of her time. Rhumba veteran, Franco was one of the artists who was anticipating a successful and great turn up for his much talked about Soul Fill up event. Unfortunately, like many other events this one too had to take the back seat due to the pandemic. In an almost defeated like move, the Kwasa Kwasa star has also stopped his rehearsals.
“It is a sad reality we all have to face at this point in time, we are all disappointed and sad for not being able to host a show we planned really well for. Frank is a man who is not shy to show his emotions, he was noticeably sad at what unfolded, not just for the show but mostly because of people losing their lives all over the world.
Currently no rehearsals are going on, no recordings are going on and there is no income at all. He will continue to take care of his staff in the best way possible. We shall all come back better and stronger, we are still 100% optimistic that one day we shall deliver,” said Kabelo “K-lo” Oanthata, the Public Relations Officer for Soul fill up with Franco
“Khiring khorong” hitmaker, Atasaone Molemogi otherwise known as ATI said: “Batswana ba thomola Pelo, do you know hunger tota. I just want to say that there is karma and it’s well on its way for anybody who put their belly in exchange for the livelihood of the people. The people might pay the heavy price of naive decision making in who they so dearly trust to lead them.
But the great revelation will call for an occurrence never witnessed before in the eyes of the oppressed and the oppressor. This awkward paradigm will see the powerful become powerless and the powerless with divine protection. Mark my words. Something big is unfolding. Truth or dare is the nature of this kind of flair.”
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.