Asked & Answered: Leungo Donald Molosi

20 Nov

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Here is a fun fact… Donald prefers Leungo as his name – but you know how it is once you ascend those heights of stardom… You sometimes have to make a small sacrifice and give your adoring audiences a more memorable name to remember you by. Fortunately for Leungo, he had Donald as a back up. What about this guy, born Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg now called by his brand name Van Damme. How about everyone’s (actually funny) favourite mess, Charlie Sheen who along with being formerly likeable and HIV negative also used to be Carlos Irwin Estévez. Those little sacrifices we have to make to get (and stay) ahead.

So Leungo… the Monsieur completely ignored him when he first landed on the greater public scene (jn Botswana) as an award winning stage actor. Hype and the Monsieur take different buses to the same destination. What a fascinating curiosity, someone who is portraying an important Motswana in far off lands and to great acclaim… so they said. Thankfully a pair of bright young things, yes you Tshepo and Michael, helped arrange for the one man show to come home for a quick spell. Unfortunately hype got there before the Monsieur who has still never seen Leungo on any stage for any reason to this day.

Anyway, the Monsieur is now here while hype is not, and Leungo was definitely worth taking the second bus for. With a book packing a double punch of Blue Black and White (BBW) – as well as Motswana, the country’s stage royalty is using literature as the, ehem, book-end to that production in his career. With the publishing of We Are All Blue, BBW may become a play performed by other actors (and for special occasions only) as Leungo moves into other long ago planned projects. His swagger…? He has kick started a process which now sees a historically relevant Motswana elevated to international film production material. So as we enter the age of the Donald, Act One:Scene One

What is your ritual before you go on stage?
Vocal and physical exercises. Lots of rest and focus. Cellphone off! No distractions.

Which play almost made you want to quit acting?

Not the play itself but the cast and director I had. It was called ‘You Can’t Take It With You.’ I was 18, the white director and cast were constantly weirded out by having a black person in the cast. Horrible memories. Funny that my character was also called Donald. Gosh. Didn’t think of quitting acting but thought of quitting the production. Gahhhh. Next question!
Who were you with when you first felt like a star?
I was with Batsho Nthoi and he was interviewing me for The Voice newspaper. And I was the youngest person on the airwaves. I was 16! One of the older people at the radio station was upset that I was given the interview. The fact that I could upset heavyweights by doing a simple interview made me feel like a star at that age. I understand power play extremely well, you see.
What advice can you give about managing an ego in danger of being inflated by success outside Botswana?
If you are really good you won’t have an ego crisis. So, get good!
How important is it to know 3 or more languages fluently for creativity?
It is crucial. It is like having three or more brains to process information in, to find a character in.
Which fellow thespian did you have a crush on the most in your career?
Whoa! Let us just say I am lucky to be working with a couple of my crushes on film lately.
Here is an unlimited budget; what is the best feature of the performance art centre you get to build with it?
Best feature is the actor’s gym. Actors would go there to practice lines with fellow actors they have not met. Just an hour in the actor’s gym, exercising the acting muscle whether you are working on a production or not.
What sort of babies do actors tend to make?
Babies who grow up to be who they are instead of who they are ‘supposed’ to be.
If you may have to do something else when you are well advanced in age, what will it be?
One of those people who write earth-shaking tell-all books from afar.
Who is your money on for a Motswana who will go far in acting?
Myself. I know how smart and hard I work and what I am still yet achieve. I cannot bet on somebody else that I know less than I know myself. Now, get that money ready.
Which book rights have you considering buying for a stage/screen adaptation?
The Magic of Perseverance‘ by David Magang. It is the most thorough autobiography I have ever read from Botswana. It begs to be acted out!
As you take your seat to watch a play you discover that you are sitting next to the President, which production are you watching?
We are watching my sister Lupita in ‘Eclipsed‘.

 

Image: Botswana Unplugged

Fresh Thoughts Again

20 Nov

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The Monsieur can and does get into fanatic spaces as a mater of course. Earlier this week it was with a discrete inquiry (launched with charm and grace) that a seat at the second outing of The Fresh Thinking Series was secured. – Lets #FTS this thing right away, it is already a mouthful as it is – Please understand that a healthy dose of over-sell-and-under-deliver is the norm on the streets of Gaborone, so you know… its always useful to suck it and see *wink* for free, first. Next time we pay if it was everything it said it was on the packaging.  So what is it…? This #FTS – rummage around here a bit and you will get what they say it is.

The Monsieur has another view… #FTS is a great way to spend the day outside of the office actually, more importantly it is what you make it. Yes, you will have an excellent array of folks articulating things you have probably been too lazy… OK, too busy to google, or knew all along but needed someone to make it make sense. I say this because the people in the room listening to the podium were mainly high fliers themselves, so really the IQ in the room,  and university qualifications as well as the collective experience could turn the tide in Botswana in a shorter time than it takes to say B.C.L.

Sadly Monsieur’s #FTS was a victim of premature you-know-what as he had to leave the room to attend to matters of life and death. Upon returning it turned out that the best had been had and that was that… but this exposed a possible missed opportunity. #FTS pretty much just… ends. You have been placed on a super high by some super thinking and then you have to turn to your super friends and pretty much… well, super leave. The short breaks during the day long affair are an opportunity to circulate while the fresh ideas peculate. However nothing drives those ideas further home than a little liquid lubrication, a good sipping session where tongues can be unlocked further.

Frankly, as with many speaking/panel discussion situations the interaction can feel a bit two dimensional. It goes a long way to have actually inspiring content and a chance at spirited debate – however, because of our always on and always connected nature, attention spans are likely to need stronger stimuli every year. Without changing it, because it ain’t broke, perhaps a resolution session could be an excellent idea to help people internalise the inspiration. A call to action that helps bring everyone present one step closer to actualising the Fresh Thinking in high flying lives. Perhaps they can then report their progress to the #TFS website for all to see and be inspired further.

Best part… The Monsieur made new and rather diverse friends – A risk manager who seemed the type to go out and eye-ball the risk rather than rely solely on computer projections. A pâtissier who collected the Tswana jams littering the tables to go experiment with in her confections. An industrial designer responsible for the coherence behind an urban lifestyle brand from Botswana. Guess what… we are all going to do fresh things, together.

Next year…? The Monsieur is paying… voluntarily. Then perhaps you will hear a lot more about the Monsieur’s experience then.

Pic: The Pressphoto

The inscrutable power of Eish

7 Oct

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The Monsieur recently had much cause to sigh with that local answer to the French shrug, the all mighty Eish. How did it get here…?  The Monsieur had just realised how long it’s been since the last time we bumped into each other right here. Sorry for you. He was outchea living. But sorry for me, I wasn’t on here sharing. Now you have to enjoy things like its 1999, again. So really… Eish. It is not an answer, an excuse or remotely adequate… but that’s all you are getting. You are used to so much better anyway, so let’s get back to that French shrug… I didn’t just put it there.

You may not see it but the Motswana on the street has quite a bit in common with the Frenchman on the street – or any other person on the street anywhere for that matter. However, if you have never experienced the French shrug in full cringe with all the facial accoutrements you are not living. First of all that someone can say so much with one gesture, admittedly one with much put into it, can’t be explained adequately here – but go with me a moment, we like things so let’s see where we end up.

After landing in Paris one time and presenting credentials to the officials was where the shrug first made its appearance. The scene was a bit tense, perhaps it was an unwarranted bit of stereotyping that the Monsieur did not quite appreciate coming from an immigration official. Point is there were forces at play much greater than he… but it wasn’t the Monsieur’s concern at that moment. Here The Monsieur was anticipating Paris and instead there was gruff resistance brought on by an African passport. The immigration official must have been struggling with the fact that when the Schengen visa says yes, no amount of prejudice formed against that passport shall prosper.

Of course the green light was granted, and in a spirit of bygones the Monsieur asked a friendly enough question… something like, ‘where should I start taking in Paris this morning?’ the response…? It must have started under the desk where the man was sitting, because all there was to see was a crumpling of the body… or something akin to a deep inhale of breath countered by a contraction of the shoulders inwards. The motion appeared to swallow the neck and the incline of the head to the left suggested it was a motion to arrest this development. That was not all, the facial features also had their transformation. The corners of the mouth turning down into a resolute downwards facing bracket, while the eyes elevated upwards with a vacant look many a drug addict might recognise.

A metaphorical cold wind blew that hot summer morning. It didn’t help that as Monsieur progressed from Immigration, to Baggage claim, to Customs and finally to Arrivals the #GTFOH was trending heavily. It seemed many more French officials seemed intent on making Monsieur’s arrival to Paris as unpleasant as possible. The message was received loud and clear and since the Monsieur doesn’t like to impose, he left the airport to get to the travel agent, to then get the next flight out of Paris – It was back in the day when you couldn’t reroute your escape via smart phone. The one thing that stuck was the emotional sledge hammer of that French shrug – the utter wall of indifference it threw up was arresting, it takes the wind right out of your sails. You couldn’t even disrespect that.

So anyway back to the motherland, the here and now… you know that defeat you feel at that little window of a government office, or any other office actually, when you are trying to get a little help, instead you meet the word Eish… before the sentence even starts… That is what I am talking about. Just be happy the Monsieur is back. Eish.

Generation H

19 Sep

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Health is a fickle thing. Whether you have it or not… You will still miss it badly once its gone. But that is the future… What about now?

Let the Monsieur tell you about now.

Regardless of where you pay your tax, there is a whole squad ready to assist you in some way to become healthy or maintain a good standard of health. Gyms, health clubs, nutritionists, social media, alcohol levy, photos of you when you were younger and sexier, health food shops, health freak friends and so on. That is now. So what is your excuse for not being a little bit healthier?

Though the Monsieur knows many things, that answer he can not help you with.

What could help you though is this… A sneakily sexy little enterprise called Health Generation. The two year old purveyors of healthy nibbles and sips is staffed by a young and motivated team, like a kat called Epe who gives the most amazing customer service; or Uyapo who handles marketing and all that… Anyway Health Generation is the now, a tasty way to get at least one part of the health thing right.

Enough plugging…lets get to the fun bit shall we…?

Over the weekend the Monsieur insinuated himself quite casually into a little urban rooftop pool side situation. The freshly completed second I-Towers block in  Gab’s New CBD completed a three sided cosy feel to the training pool. Perhaps Jack of the gyms could have been better advised here… cafe by day, cocktail bar by night – no sign of sweaty and toning bodies anywhere past the first floor. Hey, money talks, you got to pay to play – that’s what Jack did so for now the training pool remains a training pool.

Anyway… Monsieur was just grateful not to be ejected from Health Generation’s launch of their new website. The up-in-the-sky pool side picnic featured a welcome amuse bouche of fresh fruit skewers and ice lollies. #Fresh. The stars of the afternoon were the range of juices and smoothies that were made in front of our eyes. #Fresh. Featuring firm favourites like Citrus Quench to more acquired taste variations like Nutty Professor, the healthy drinks kept on coming.  The highlight of the day was actually the salads that each guest got to order as part of their RSVP… yep #Fresh. Using up to 8 different ingredients everyone got a jam jar crammed with healthy self made yumminition.

Hey – like blogging, social media and today’s life, we all want it our way – and for an afternoon everyone could have it just how they wanted it from Health Generation. #OnMyOwn was the Hash Tag de Jour, meaning you got to have it your own way, the salads the smoothies and a damn good time.

Spotted poolside were the social media Princelings and Princessas of Gaborone, with a healthy sprinkling of soon to be’s. Roll calling would be so analogue – if you don’t know who they are, they probably don’t know who you are.

*Sips that oh so dope Citrus Quench – ehem… with a secret dash of Tanqueray.

Yes a hundred times Yes

11 Feb

Andre Kertesz

Yeah man, I was like what? Nah! Come on son! And please… don’t be alarmed, some things do bring out the gansta in the Monsieur. This reaction was because of a film that happened to have a part where some woman was reading the dying throes of Ulysses, the book by James Joyce. The author was allegedly experimenting with long sentences; minimal punctuation; or just plain fucking with us. I wouldn’t know I never read the entire book. I just hunted for that particular paragraph. Apparently there is a particular part in the narrative where a girl is professing love for a dude. It has a gang of Yeses marching along the page one after the other, strewn like confetti, punctuation, exclamations, verbs, adjectives and other kinds of amazing like that.

The way I heard it read in the film was all in a rush, like the emotion couldn’t wait to get the hell out there into the young man’s ears and thus his heart.  Really! I mean really, wouldn’t a passionate kiss have done a better job…? #imjustsayin yo. No, so anyway it is what it is, and the Monsieur being who he is the question was, what is it exactly this author was trying to pull here? I set out to confirm to myself that there was something shady going on here, a discrete yet indecent fondling at least. Remember, the book wasn’t written in a time when PDA was kosher. There was all this ceremony that was a prelude to getting your freak on, or showing a decent young lady that she was causing a major jones in your bones. So having convinced myself that there was some sly sex going on I hunted the damn book down, found it… the library is good in that way. I soon discovered that reading the book was not feasible for me. Through some random skimming I quickly lucked out and found the magic lines near the end of the book.

Boss! That damn line blew me away. I don’t know why the couple is there, it just not the Monsieur’s way to give a rat’s ass. It was like wow, forget a discrete indecent fondling, that would have been too easy. Just the girl talking made it so much more sexier. I mean if there is a man out there that doesn’t like hearing Yes, yes, yes and even more yes, he has got something wrong with him. Reading the paragraph, I saw myself there, just lying there, getting the dream answer to my unasked love question and just soaking it all in. Quite possibly the  flow of three little letter emotion with no punctuation made it non-threatening to lay back and receive. It did set off fireworks  of all kinds in my noggin, thinking about all those little secret signs that I encountered before in my life that sent me to cloud 9 ( and several times to cloud 69… naturally, this is the Monsieur) how grand yet stupid professions of love can be… actually, are. I mean it’s just the safety valve for an overflow of emotion most of the time. It’s not unusual to hear “I love you” in the throes of passion, and in my book that is usually the best time to avoid saying such incriminating things… even when you have been at the watermelon  and the drank takes over your tongue.

Back to the Yes, yes, yes’ I mentally lay there and imagined a woman saying that to me.  It was a special feeling, taken out of context, and in a very public place, the library, remember? Wonderful! Typical, these damn writers, they play with your emotions so easily… but we let them don’t we…? A real stop-it-I-like-it situation. It was nice – but the Monsieur don’t play… so there might be a different story to tell one day about all that Yes.

 

Image: “Carnival, Paris (woman reading behind stage),” (1926), by Andr Kertsz

The Fox without a tail

26 Jan

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Catchy title no…? Briefly it was going to be Random Acts of Idiocy…  Anyway this is quite the wrong chord to strike as the Monsieur gets back into chiming with the WaWaWa, however strong emotional reactions are the Monsieur’s stock in trade. It goes without saying that a flesh and bone being is behind these musings. They are posted with the hope that they bring as much pleasure to reader as they do to the writer. It’s never with a malicious twinkle in the eye that anything happens with the Monsieur’s touch. However most of us know that serious imperfection of after all being man… it runs deep and sometimes gets the better of us despite our purest intentions.

 

Whole movie story lines are based on this condition, from Fantastic Mr Fox in Wes Anderson’s beautiful rendition of a Roald Dahl book, to Brown Sugar an ‘urban love story’ (love this description), schmaltz like Casanova (Rip Heath Ledger) these films tend to point out how human it is to err, even if that isn’t their focus. For an hour and change we can walk in someone else’s shoes all the while possibly missing the reflection of our selves… perhaps because it is a stop motion fox that goes too far trying to do good for family. The beauty and the sadness in the reality is that we have all been there whether we realised it or not.

 

On multiple occasions the Monsieur meandered into monumentally impossible corners. Who knows you might have been introduced to a girl your best friend fancied and in trying to create a good impression (for his sake) she ends up gravitating to you and not your best friend. What began as a well-intention random act of something ended up being a random act of idiocy, sometimes with very real repercussions indeed. However this isn’t why you come here, to read about the ever unfolding human drama of being human.  If there is a lesson to be learnt in this rather cryptic kick-off of another spate of weird and wonderful blogging…  let’s try this – it’s never really about us, as we find out in the long run. However, never forgo an opportunity to make the necessary amends for your part in being human.

 

Maybe what the Monsieur needs to do is more of this and less random acts of idiocy. After all we are adults and we should know… and do better.

 

Here is a motivation to help you aim for your own personal happiness… www.100happydays.com (Thank you @iamchelle)

And another motivation to help you be more comfortable with being human, slightly www.waitbutwhy.com (Thank you @missmillieB)

One more motivation to help you share how you could possibly avoid random acts of idiocy – www.somewhere.com  (Thank you @kojobaffoe)

 

Image – Kevin Wagner Design

Asked and Answered: Malibongwe Tyilo

18 May

The Monsieur knows all the right sorts, file that under fact not brag. I did promise that I would bring you some super to go with the duper that this space is. Don’t cringe, embrace, Super Duper – it’s not like its coming back. That turn of phrase encapsulates what most of us try to say about fashion, and can’t put into words. But we love how fashion makes us look – Super; and we love how it makes other people look at us – Duper. Cause and some sort of effect. Malibongwe Tyilo is only one out of many people that makes their nights about bringing us great moments that we would ordinarily miss, even if we were there. However as Skattie What Are You Wearing, name of his Blog not his Super Hero moniker, Mali sets the pace. It’s all gold everything in terms of being genuinely from South Africa, except when he goes to Hyères photography and fashion festival in the South of France. I am not selling, and you ain’t buying, I give you Skattie.

mali - max

Skattie, what are you doing these days?

Last time you were here I think I was still in the retail game as a fashion buyer. Well, since then, last year (2012) Feb to be exact, I left retail to pursue freelance writing. Eventually I was offered a very cool position as Editor at Large for Visi magazine, which in my opinion is the best design, décor and architecture magazine in SA. They were also very understanding of my situation with Skattie, the evening events and the freelance work, so I pop into work around noon, leaving the morning open to explore freelance projects.

Back in the day you landed in Cape Town at fashion buyer school – what prompted that decision?

An empty stomach. When I first arrived in CT in 1999 after graduating from fashion college in Johannesburg I was all about design and I considered fashion buying to be some form of selling out to the corporations. Then after four years of dealing with the harsh realities of trying to make it into the SA fashion industry and doing a whole lot of waiting tables on Cape Town’s restaurant scene, I was like fuck that, I need a salary and some damn medical aid so I joined the Truworths buyer training program. I must say I actually ended up enjoying buying so much and it taught me a lot about how the marketplace really works, you know, instead of some of the fantasies that I’d learnt in fashion school.

What were your most amazing buys when travelling the world bringing hot things for Mzanzians?

To be honest I really don’t have particular favourites. The strange thing about fashion buying, that specific part of fashion buying, that one week when you travel, is that it really isn’t as fabulous as it sounds, this idea of shopping as work, it is so exhausting, walking up and down foreign streets, bags weighing you down, shopping sometimes for twelve hours straight, and things just start to look the same. In the interest of full disclosure I should also mention that I absolutely hate shopping, especially for clothes, strange but true.

And then you left that side of the fashion world, was it a good move?

Definitely, I am now focusing on work I am passionate about, chasing projects that are personally meaningful to me, and I am able to direct my creativity where I want it to go. There are things I miss I won’t lie. The thing about this semi-freelance life is that you have to do all your own personal admin. The medical aid, the policies, the provident funds, etc. Whereas when you are a full time employee as a buyer for a retailer, you walk into a situation that is sorted for you, you just sign on the dotted line and voila; medical aid, shares, retirement plans and all of that falls into place.

Mali - ward

From fresh eyed buying apprentice to buyer to stylish blogger come tastemaker to photographer/videographer, Skattie what can’t you do?

Hehehe… there’s still a lot to learn. Having dabbled in a few things and looking to dabble in a few more, I’m recognising the value of spending enough time in each of my interests in order to get better at them. My writing and photography have improved because I work on those the most. However, there is still so much more room for improvement. The video work if I am to be honest is actually quite shit, interesting content yes, but technically way inferior to the video work that kids are producing right now. I always think of Nollywood as my main inspiration, some of those movies are made in 2 weeks and the lighting is cringetastic, but you know what, they are pushing on and learning as they go, and they’ve managed to create an economy around themselves and their work because the audience loves the content and aren’t terribly stressed about the lighting, or the acting for that matter. Of course in an ideal world everything should be of a certain standard, but we can’t spend too much time thinking about our obstacles, sometimes we must just start and we’ll learn along the way.

Skattie What Are You Wearing, no really right now, what are you wearing?

A David West deconstructed blazer, a drapey vest from the ladies wear section, a drapey black cotton scarf. Black jeans from some random Chinese import shop, and grey Zara men’s shoes.

Let’s do personal stuff, the Artist currently known as Athi, when did the fairy tale start?

Hehehehe @ fairytale. We met in 2007 when we both moved into a commune in a dodgy neighbourhood on the outskirts of innercity Johannesburg .

Two creatives and some cats, one home – this is your daily reality show, how do you keep it real at home with Athi?

What really helps with Athi and I is that we have a very similar set of insecurities and dreams. So home kind of has to be a safe space, a sanctuary if you will, a place where we can heal, a retreat and refuge from all the judgement and expectations out there. We have this phrase we live by, “I come home to kindness”. Not to say it’s all airy fairy and wonderful, we have our challenges, but because we are both fucked up in similar ways we also get how we need each other and we appreciate the lessons we are teaching each other.

Back to the killer pictures and what you say through them… what do you generally say through your photography?

I love the idea of documenting the space I exist in the way I see it, of course there is the obvious fashion slant, a lot of my pics are about documenting the fashion set. I also have very pop sensibilities and that affects how my work looks. I’m sure you’ve seen Kelis’s old-ish video, Bossy. I love the way that video is shot. So much fashion, superficial society vibes, excess. That video and the work of Jessica Craig Martin (if you haven’t you really must google her) are both huge inspirations for me. I suppose I don’t think I have one great message that I’m trying to put forth with my photography, other than inviting people to look at this world and have an opinion about it. I know it’s a world I love.

mali FB

The rich, the famous, the talented, the stylish, the gifted, idiots and other mofos have all crossed in front of your lens, which peeps were your highlights?

I must say generally my highlights are always my friends, the ones I photograph again and again, like Bee Diamondhead and Fumi May. I love their style, maybe it’s because we’re friends and somehow on the same wavelength, but I really love their style. Another highlight are the people who attend the Hyères photography and fashion festival in the south of France. I’ve been attending now for two years and each year I am blown away by the style. Understandably it’s a gathering of people who are very passionate about fashion so great style is to be expected, but still it amazes me

The Mayanas appear to have lied to us, or we misunderstood them, but since we will live longer, what have you got up your sleeve for 2013?

Currently I am working on a print project for Skattie, I first dabbled in that back in 2010, I’m revisiting it on a much larger scale. I am also working on an online market that links back to Skattie. I’m very excited about that project.

You find yourself sitting next to Botswana’s President at a dinner… how do you break the ice?

So..uhmmm…about the cheetah…

Photos: Max Mogale, Diary of Ward