Archive | September, 2011

Peeps I Want You to Know

29 Sep

I know peeps… and I want you to know them too. So lets me shed some light on some hidden talent you should be digging on. Miss Eighties ngwana is a German national who is actually of Eastern European extraction…Slovakia. She is busy immortalising Gabs peeps one portrait at a time, and typical of Botswana’s slow-to-get-it ways the lot of yous are only going to jump on it when she has moved on or is considered too expensive.

Petra Rolinec is a photographer with a very cautious eye and ethical approach to her photography, that is to say she likes to be fair with her craft. Fair in the sense that everything has to work right if she is going to take the picture, from the subjects in the frame to how they look and feel… in studio anyway. Out side of the studio a photographer just has to focus on the craft and things usually come correct. I am featuring Petra at this time as my first Peeps I Want You to Know because she occasionally does a photography session for personal portraits of people. The pictures come out looking as soft as a Tretchikoff portrait and just as sublime. The best part is these photo sessions, which take about two hours, will only cost you P300.00 for four portraits. First off Google Tretchikoff, especially his Balinese period, and consider that he did that beautiful with paint, which isn’t easy by a long shot. Now here is someone doing it with digital photography… which isn’t easy either, but is just as beautiful. Actually, that is all I need to say. The other thing you can do is look at the portraits pictures you already have, now be honest, you only like them because you had your best shoes on that day.

You ain’t getting a number from me here, this isn’t that sort of blog, but hit up my girl Petra here instead. I like Petra’s other fascinating trait which is that she is a fountain of communist information like this. So you see photography is vitally important… now go get hot photos of yourself, you never know what someone will do with them in future… at least you will look damn hot in them no matter what happens.

Billionaires and Aspirations – Forbes Africa

28 Sep

Well, it’s here now a fancy mag for the rich and powerful… OK, OK, Forbes Africa isn’t all that fancy really, it’s just practical. A functioning mix of economics and finance articles given a human touch since they talk about the (rich) people rather than just the fiscal forces that birthed their wealth. So not entirely boring then, especially as Forbes also informs you on how the rich get there through their expert analysis of the money jungle. It’s not high brow language so the info inspires you somewhat rather than intimidates so that you too could get there as well… someday.

Anyway Botswana’s athletics golden girl, Amantle Montsho, made the issue, sans picture, but it’s enough that she is being recognised in the First Africa Issue of Forbes Magazine. Now if they could just follow up with a story about successful African sporting talent management in the next issue since Amantle really needs a dedicated agent on that angle.

The 20 most powerful women in Africa is surprisingly dominated by South Africa, 11 out of the 20 are women from South Africa… though Graca Machel is… well whatever, guess she is a powerful African woman first, where she lays her head isn’t so important in the grander scheme of things. The heavy South African presence is a surprise because it is a stereotypical view; that Joburg makes the most money on the continent so it follows that powerful women are a dime a dozen in those fields of gold. Hell the Malawian Vice president, Joyce Banda (no relation to former Zambian president Rupiha Banda, ) is pitted against Gill Marcus who’s concern is only the financial affairs of South Africa’s Reserve Bank is so unbalanced in so many ways. Me thinks it would be just fine to say the most powerful women in business, politics, social climbing etc… would have been more useful.

And oh, Lena Mohohlo made the grade at number ten. Lena is only the Governor of the Bank of Botswana, and this bank is only the bank that will soon be processing unheard off billions as Debeers moves its heart and soul to Botswana in the next two years. A move that’s kind of an overnight move wouldn’t you say… considering what Debeers deals in and the sway they have in that most mercurial of industries, the diamond business.

Botswana journo Reginald Richardson also penned a piece about a rich-and-evasive-about-it gentleman called Base Sebonego… err Who? So moving right along I thought the story was a bit chatty, but you know its OK, it was more a skim the surface interview about a man whom Botswana’s army of interns should look to in terms of his-made-it-despite-the-odds story. Base owns Mosele Legal Services, a company which gives you legal cover for a small fee a month. Base is about to lauch Home Assist, a company which, for a small fee every month, will provide maintenance services for your home. It’s a sad fact that Batswana love debt even more then they love alcohol so a solution that steers them away from debt is bound to be attractive. No wonder Base is about to be Oprah rich… nah, that doesn’t compute, lets say Base is about to be Nchindo rich instead… we get that picture.

So welcome Forbes, Africa its gona be good checking you out… especially since you got Patrice to wear a half way decent shirt on your first cover for a change.

Artspicious Goings on in the Main Mall

27 Sep

There is something artspicious going on in the Main Mall, it is quite simply an art gallery. But what makes is so artspicious you wanna know… well this gallery is in the Debswana building commandeering a healthy chunk of the ground floor. It is a prime space in a prime location for a prime purpose and it is all F-R-E-E of charge for the curator Karabo Radipudi. I know… I was also green with every emotion associated with the colour.

Karabo was smart enough to merge her art intentions with Debswana’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme. Its was a master stroke of note and I will tell you why. In Botswana art tends to get the cold shoulder from many local corporates because art doesn’t rank when held up against a press picture of, lets say, “AIDS Orphans” receiving branded t-shirts and a newly painted playground.

Karabo is sitting on ground zero for a huge opportunity for credible artists that need their work noticed, even if its only because the art is mounted on a heavy weight corporation’s walls. The other benefit is that for the time being, because it costs her nothing to look after the space, it will cost artists nothing to show there and sell their work from the space.

Incidentally the gallery is called Healing Art Gallery. Karabo says that is the ultimate aim of the gallery, to heal. I can relate, I felt healed over there… mainly that Debswana allowed it and also because Karabo also said she wants crazy people to come do their art thing there… Excuse me while I round up the posse.

Pic – (Athi Patra Ruga in action)

PS – Artspicious. Noun. Made up word for good fortune in an arty sort of way.

Not For Players Only

26 Sep

There is a guy called Vikter Duplaix, and he isn’t from Russia with a first name spelt that way, nor is he from some sweaty French underground club with a second name spelt that way. Either way it isn’t as important as the fact that this mofo is about to turn Soweto on its head this Sunday… *Silent Moment of prayer. Had I known… Had I bloody known! Y’all would be on a big ol’ bus with me this Sunday to go nurse your post independence weekend hangovers ka daa. Bona enough talk just, take a hit of THIS once or twice and tell me who’s your daddy.

About the Thesis item… I first came across them while doing a search for something totally unrelated. They hit because I guess they were repping their hood, Soweto, internationally in a way that got the internationals talking and inviting Thesis over to theirs, but most importantly they got the internationals coming over to see Soweto for themselves.

I was over there myself and had a damn ball. Starting with a complete bunch of helpful strangers shipping me half way across Mofolo and back to look for a functioning ATM. Can’t beat that sort of welcome by a long shot. I also got to hear all about what the Thesis thing was all about from the owners and total strangers, and cool peeps, it was all positive. Heck I could go on about that dope thing… but that’s not the point.

Now don’t go feeling like you are left out just because you live in Botswana (read that as Gabs) and have an irrational fear of the original Kasi. In Gabs you could go to the Main Mall and get you some of the same sort of love at The BW Store. These young Bucks are rolling on a multi mission tip. Yes they got that fresh swagger thing on lock, they also want to uplift the unsigned hype profiles of artists in Gabs (and Bots), they also want to give back even if it is a little at a time. That is like where the Thesis concept also sort of started, young bucks with ideas and the energy, not necessarily the money. Look at Thesis now.

Photo – Sean Armenta

Random Acts of Brilliance

22 Sep

Sometimes you really do have to look at the West with envy… and for the wrong reasons, as usual. I came up on this interesting bunch of activists that try to get their country (U.K.) to stop selling guns and ammo to the bad guys… or maybe be a bit more responsible with who they sell death to.

Why do I envy them for the wrong reasons….? Because their latest stunt involved attending an arms fair in their country (U.K.) posing as an initiative that replaces lives lost in Third World conflicts with new life in their home country (U.K.) I wont bore you, read all about it. But you have got to envy these peeps that have time to go after big corporations or governments mainly to bring public awareness of the wrong that may be going on. I mean, in Botswana we are too damn busy chasing the Pula to give a rats ass about such things. Sure, we might go on strike but look at the personal and general economic cost… all of  that and I doubt the goals for striking were conclusively achieved. You got to envy the West though for having time to pursue such ideas. Why…?

Twelve Poets, One CD. Immortality Deserved

21 Sep

It’s going to be hard to keep to the topic on this one, but let’s give it a whirl. That artprenure I once mentioned in passing, TJ Dema, is at it again. The ‘at it’ in this case is giving 12 individuals a crack at immortality… what? Weren’t you aware that you could live forever? O tla ipona.

The CD ‘Dreaming is a Gift for Me’ is billed as a poetry anthology and that’s all the labelling we can allow because really you will find it hard to compare the CD to anything else you have ever let your ear sip for any reason. First off, it is a spoken word collaboration which also features some musical elements. Lets start with the rather dramatic ‘Angelinah’ by the equally dramatic Malcolm. (Ever just met Malcolm on the street and exchanged pleasantries…? Storm clouds literally gather he is so intense) For a language loving non-poet like me the cultural specific references are always a high point, and in ‘Angelinah’ the no less then four name checks of that cult beer, Ohlssons Lager, threw me into raptures of delight mid rape… err the poem was about a young girl being raped by an Ohlssons drunk uncle. See… immortality! Just try and forget I said that about Malcolm’s poem.

Barolong Seboni, easily as old as 10 of the younger poets put together… I think, was actually sparkling as he metaphorically undressed the Village of  Molepolole (name of Barox’s poem) in English so reminiscent of the Hamlyn Africa Series books of the 80’s. A nice contrast to Barox’s delivery in that modern rocking-back-and-forth-but moving-forward stop/start poetic rhythm akin to a locomotive starting off with a heavy load. If Molepolole had a gender it would be highly aroused by the poetic accolade.

Who else…? There are 10 more collaborators in this legal gathering, TJ Dema, pulling a Celine Dion with her technically effortless rendition of ‘Less Faith Full’. TJ’s delivery is so polished and well oiled, damn near perfect in pitch and poise, but don’t ask me about the content I am sure TJ can make the Budget Speech sound graceful and sexy all at the same time. Boipelo Seleke is present on the CD with ‘Tengnyanateng’ a first rate example that Setswana is a filthy little language when it wants to be but with such playfulness that you would be surprised to find yourself getting aroused instead of offended. It was a pleasant surprise when I first saw her perform the poem many years ago at the Village Cinema, with my then deformed Setswana, but the men whistling and women giggling through out that performance made me to listen a little harder, I was glad I did. This recording however lacks that live magic because I suspect the microphone isn’t phallic enough to inspire Boipleo to incite a riot of emotions in a studio environment, pity.

Mr Ntirelang Berman… I must use the title of Moroka Moreri’s poem (also on the same CD) ‘O a Ntena’, to describe Berman’s blatant talent. This guy o a ntena because wa re itima, as unintentional as it is. I was fortunate enough to hear Berman messing up people with his talent on radio earlier in the day, I felt no different hearing this musical contribution ‘Mmamoleane’, nxa, o a ntena. What’s wrong with this country for not having a platform for Berman’s flavour to flow uninterrupted to all ears in Botswana and beyond regularly? Moreri’s ‘O a Ntena’ its self was like an articulation of love from a Motswana man’s point of view. The narrator in the poem takes the love of a good woman to be an irritation of note. The man reciting the poem is restless and can not articulate the restlessness, however he can identify what is making him restless, and who is responsible, and it irritates him so. But its all love really and so humorous, you could just imagine a cantankerous old man reminiscing about his wife, but not saying a single positive thing, yet you feel the love. Setswana, what a beautiful creature… ok, ok Poetry too.

Mandisa Mabuthoe, who literally put me in a corner after the listening session and poets were exchanging autographs (just in case one of them became world famous) and got me to admit the CD frustrated me because it was zeitlos; a German word meaning timeless, and so very appropriate. My frustration was that I didn’t have anything to benchmark the CD against, so whatever I have written here is a total leap of faith… but anyway Mandisa was just toying with me (in the corner) and on the CD. She knows she is good, that good and you can hear it. Again don’t ask me what she was on about in her poem that titled the project ‘Dreaming is a Gift for Me’… she just sounded so right, OK not perfect as she was very sibilant. Mandisa’s ‘S’ sounds were very ‘cutting’, making it a novel take on rough with the smooth… sort of smooth slices of poetry with razor sharp edges and I fought not to use the word edge… But again I think Mandisa is not a studio poet, yet… she is toying with us.

Ack! This has become a veritable anthology as well…So let me shout out my favourite poem on the CD, ‘My Poem is More Street’ by Tshireletso Motlogelwa. This guy just takes it to the streets, the haphazard sloppy sloping hill side streets of Peleng or the twisted warren of streets in Ditakaneg he has you metaphorically (and literally) watching your back. I love how in real life Tshireletso is living proof that the wrong side of the tracks is a self imposed state of mind more then a physical place… but he is still liable to show you dust like majeeta a ko kasi if you step on his toes, poet’s or otherwise.

There is so much more (CD artwork design by Alistair Hagger of; photography by Petra Rolinec of 8ties Baby; main production by Virgin Brew Studios) but I don’t want to sound like I was paid, TJ’s Sauti Arts can’t afford me yet. However if the response to this very relevant and heavy weight sampling of modern day Botswana poetry (and some music) is as it should be, any and all immortality is deserved.

The Better Way According to Bheki

19 Sep

I am kinda late with this one but it just refuses to get old… so haters the better way for you is you must go and shut up. Remember that other post? The Mzanzians are at it again this time its King Cop Bheki Cele laying down the law in no uncertain terms, and finishing us in the process.  Come on Botswana politicians and local artists get together on this and make us all laugh at ourselves a little, preferably a lot, but laugh all the same.

Yo! Actually you know what, there is one guy who consistently makes me wonder where his work has been all my life. We met when he was still a starving student in Cape Town, and unfortunately I was too caught up fending off the Cape Town storms-in-a-tea-cup to notice the brilliance back then. But anyway Mr Albert Lekgaba is not to be messed with in the political satire division. I mean he isn’t quite a Zapiro or a Yalo just yet… but watch this space.

Illustration – Albert Lekgaba