Archive | October, 2011

The Juice is Loose

25 Oct

Go tsamaya ke go bonwa – To travel is to be seen.

So I perverted a Setswana saying a little but it is highly appropriate as I just caught a glimpse of a face familiar to Botswana’s currently meagre catwalks. Juice Tsile is an above average height mami from Banadleng, she was originally discovered by Mpho Laing. Anyone recall those models dressed in black holding Orange internet ready devices…? Actually that idea is still being used by Orange every now and again. That was probably the first time Juice was seen by the main stream. Well time has marched on and Juice is obviously squeezing everything she can out of the slim pickings that currently pass for catwalk shows in Botswana. On that note lets watch this space and lets see who comes back for more next year between Gabs Fashion Night 2, Colour in the Desert Fashion Week 2, Botswana Fashion Week 1,5 and who knows what else will rise fashionably from the chaos. Anyway Juice was a staple at all of those shows so that sets our girl apart from the chaff… as it were.

A weekend on the Africa Fashion Week catwalks is just what any model needs to get really going… how else are you going to be seen in the biggest media pool in our region? What about the Internet you say…? I say this is Africa my friendo, and nothing beats getting you out there than word of mouth. Juice has certainly got my mouth (well fingers in this case) working about her strut at AFW working out the Tanzanian designer Mustafa Hassanali’s garments. Mustafa was doing AFW Beeg with his Uhuru Collection… Tanzania is 50 years old don’t cha ya know. This high profile strut should give our girl that push to really get  her out there, can you say Swahili Fashion Week anyone? Though it isn’t confirmed to my ears yet, I wouldn’t be surprised to find Juice making beautiful for Mustafa all the way in Zanzibar later this year.

So lets see… we will have Kaone… Juice… and err who else again strutting the flag high?

Pics – Simon Deiner/SDR Photo

Asked & Answered: Athi-Patra Ruga

19 Oct

I posted a one pic wonder of an artist I have been hoping to experience live.  Yesterday I ran into him on twitter and couldn’t resist wrangling an A&A for our reading pleasure.

I now hand you  Athi-Patra Ruga talking about Himself, where he has been, Art and the low down on Ilulwane, his soon to be performed show in New York this November.

What is the most memorable thing that you have ever heard about Botswana? Two things : a…The country was built on Beef and diamonds.

What is your first thought when someone says the word “Africa”? Black Sexx

What is it you love about being an artist? The fact that I can communicate graphically and use all media available to me to prove myself wrong.

Apparently you make, “ work that exposes and subverts the body in relation to structure, ideology, and politics.” So what does that mean to art virgins? Art Virgins …please explain.

South Africa is considered a young nation, when counting from after apartheid, as an artist living and working in a “fresh” country does that same “freshness” colour your work, or do you also delve into the apartheid years for some of your inspiration? When I think of South Africa , I make it a point to consider it’s entire history. So the advent of “democracy ” in the wake apartheid’s demise , is the proverbial cherry on top of the many achievements this country has made. Period. This adds colour more for me than wiping out many memories that have created an aesthetic. Anything contrary would be equivalent to propagating a fascism of sorts…ne?

What does an opportunity to perform in New York represent for a younger then Jesus artist from South Africa? I won’t lie : it has been a dream of mine to Perform in the United States…especially in a platform like PERFORMA. The opportunity that has been put in front of me can mean…that I have a chance to a…share in my experience with other cultures and b…to plain out flex my fabulosity hehe.

What sort of impact do you hope taking part in Performa 11 will have on your career? Already the studio participation in Performa has had an effect on the scale of the work I am now producing. It is a major step up in that regard. Also it will open up my practise to a dialogue with a wider spectra of other artists, future collaborators etc.

How did the collaboration between you and Spoek come about for Performa 11? I had been constructing the Ilulwane saga since 2008. And a big part of the performative works is that of the interrogation of western theatre history in relation to the visual displacement according to gender, race and collective histories basically. Music is the first thing that would come to mind when engaging with this above theme.

I first met Spoek in the Netherlands, we were doing a show there in 2010 and later in Buenos Aires. I believe from viewing his performances and listening to his musical trajectory that we would be perfect for a collaboration.

Spoek Mathambo is a semi Swede in that he has divided his life between Sweden and South Africa… which physical places have you divided your life between? I’ve lived in many places in my likkle life. I was born in Umtata, raised in Butterworth only to move to East London then a Jo’burg 8 year exile at which point I started travelling extensively while planning a move to cape town. There!

Which of your exhibitions are you most famous for? It’s still coming. Patience.

Which is your favourite exhibition and why? In 2008 I was commissioned to do a performative body work by the HEBBEL AM UFER theatres. The scale I was thrust into working in was unprecedented then, I had to prove my mettle, you know, and from that show came a body of work that has gotten the studio a lot of attention and has put me in a course that cannot entertain regression in my practise. I also got to meet one of my Art heroes Vaginal Davis, whose work is of great influence to me.

Which African countries would you most like to exhibit in and why? I believe I have had this dream come true already. I have shown in Niger, Dakar and my first exhibited art work Miss Congo was born in Kinshasa, my spiritual home.

Have you ever exhibited or held artistic interactions in the townships, what was the difference in reception to your work in contrast to say China or Stuttgart? I grew up eziPhunzane in East London , and I am a bit of an exhibitionist from long time. So Ya I have. A big part of my visual language comes from my growing up in the townships. More opportunities are always welcome as that will bring me closer to a full circle. Do lectures count?

Do artists always have to do or say relevant things with their art? Relevant to whom would be my top-of the-head response. However I do feel that in everything anyone does they must manifest the zeitgeist and be some conduit for relevant conversation. That is my opinion of course.

What is the importance of a viewing public for an artist? I believe it is of high importance. I hate art that separates people. Or artists who feel that they are beyond “wasting “their time with “the public”.  This is a sure-fire way of making yourself irrelevant.

Which artists do you recommend that we should know about? Jamal Nxedlana , Kalup Linzy , Terence Koh. And that’s that.

Who is the more stylish, @Skattie_What or @AthiPatraRuga? I do not engage much with @Skattie_What in that manner. It’s a persona I believe.

How was your life affected by the recent breakdown of the Blackberry services? My facebook news feed has been littered with the jokes…I find that was not relevant to me. I would like my facebook friends to stop tagging me in those jokes.

On reflection what did the reaction of Blackberry users say to you about our always connected society? Huh ???

What sort of an exhibition would like to put on in Botswana if you had no limitations?

Diamonds and Hanging Gallows. Another opera.

Last shot, what is Ilulwane about? Ilulwane is a  noun for a bat, it also is the word used [more often than not in a derogatory manner] to describe a young man who has forsaken the traditional rite of passage to manhood : called Ukwaluka [“to be herded”] he usually is given this name when he has opted for a hospital surgery instead.

With the abusive practices and botched circumcisions, that make their way to many a news bulletin around June and December [the season for the initiation school], that lead to the traumatized “abakhwetha” [initiates] seeking help in hospitals comes the backlash of being labeled “Ilulwane- neither bird nor mouse.”

Ilulwane is an overgrown castrati, he carries and shares the history of castratism in sub-Saharan Africa, the Vatican and that of the practise in the precolonial Arab slave trade.

So maybe I will just have to get Athi-Patra Ruga come on down and give the local art massive a much needed kick in the family jewels.

Photos – George Mahashe, @Skattie_what, Nadine Hutton

The Legendary Lira

14 Oct

In Botswana we take fun to be our God given right, re breaka fun just nje whatever the weather. Shems, Lira… ya neh. It was a dope night out, I mean Botswancraft and Mascom just seem to be trying to become a weekend special every other weekend. Spoiling Botswana bound fun lovers rotten, next thing you know the concerts are going to stop (Budgets) and then the snipeing will start for real.

When Mascom Live Sessions began, the rumours were that it was going to be for a set number of shows only, anything between 10 and 15… you can’t trust those rumours you know because the rumours said nothing about Salif Keita, they also said nothing about Thomas Mapfumo, I mean at this juncture I half way expect Shabba Ranks to rise out of the ashes of 40% alcohol levy inferno that decimated many a fun option in GC… O-Zone anyone?

Anyway its now Lira’s turn (again) at the now legendary Botswanacraft stage… I am trying not to talk about the last time I didn’t see Lira perform. Macufe 2010… at simply one of the most amazing performance venues I have ever been to, PACOFS in Manaung  or Bloemfontein to the die hards. So there we were mid delay, caused by negotiations between Lira’s people and the concert organisers, tweeting about the random things going on in a swanky venue. Mangaung peeps are a total riot, they are black and there ain’t a damn thing they are thinking of doing about it. With hosts like that you always have a great time nine-9 because you too can be yourself. Ya no, so the delay stretches out until many of us remembered that there were drinks outside in the foyer. I did say it is a beautiful venue, so no drinks allowed inside the auditorium. Since we were visiting our Southern neighbours, we phuza’d for a bit… then phuza’d a little more and promptly forgot about Lira.

Mooooole, someone came out of the auditorium (not hall, PACOFS is a fine place, need I remind you?) with a stormy look, talking about , “journalists were asked to leave the room.” Them was fighting words to the well oiled on liquid hospitality scribes… in Botswana we have a term “go reka kgang” Which means you “bought” the issue, or took up the cause. And so it was now all about Lira this, Lira that. Bottom line we missed the show, not even on the little TVs conveniently sprinkled in the foyer to show uncouth types like tipsy journalists with an imaginary axe to grind what was unfolding on stage. Later after cooling down a lot, indeed we had left to pursue other Macufe pleasures on offer, we got the real story. Yes, Lira had read out a statement from her record company requesting that journos not record her performance. It turns out that a fine point hadn’t been covered by the contract, and the artist was just caught in the middle. The journos that had worked through their frustration and stayed for the show had a blast, as was to be expected, you can’t get on the stage at PACOFS and disappoint.

Lira is also a notorious perfectionist so there isn’t a chance in hell that anyone dropping in on the Friday 4th November at Botswanacraft will have anything to say other than sigh their heads off in abject pleasure.

Asked & Answered: Mpho Kuaho

13 Oct

First in a series of QnA’s called Asked & Answered. It is not edited it is “live”.

Mpho Kuaho On Colour in the Desert Fashion Week and Fashion in Botswana

What was identified in the Botswana market that prompted the need for a Fashion Week initiative? Lots of talent that was hidden under a rock and a lot of investment and economic growth potential through clothing and textile.

In your opinion what took so long for there to be such an initiative in the local market? The right minds who could put it into action. I’m pretty sure many fashion loving Batswana have had this idea fly by but never had the courage to put it into action.

When people say “fashion Industry” in Botswana what are they referring to exactly? People??? What people… as a fashion designer and business woman, when I talk about the fashion industry I mean your marginalised seamstress to the retailer through your consumers as well as everybody else who makes it possible for one person to be a shirt that you are wearing right.

What are some of the aspects of this industry that have already been put into practice in the country? It would have to be retailing. This is where most of the stakeholders in fashion are involved.

Are there any facts and figures available you are able to quote that can give an indication of the contribution of the fashion milieu to trade and industry in Botswana? It’s been 10 years and the government has been sending students to study fashion and related course and now there are hundreds of these graduates who are loitering around and CDFW (Colour in The Desert Fashion Week) is that one platform to encourage and empower them to use their skills and give back to the community and of course the government. Fashion is not all about stilettos and micro mini skirts; it is a business. We talk about fashion, clothing and textile and manufacturing all wrapped up in one.

What are some of the structures in Botswana that support the local fashion businesses? Off the top of my head. It would have to be your CEDA, BEMA, BEDIA, Ministry of Trade Industry, Arts and Culture, Youth Department.

Is there a fashion regulating authority and if not is there a need for one in the country? There isn’t but it’s a work in progress that’s why we are working with the masters of the fashion industry like Jan Malan.

What was the purpose of staging the Colour in the Desert Fashion Week? Education, empowerment, economic contribution, mainly to create awareness about the existence of the fashion industry Botswana through my vast experience and a better understanding of what the industry is all about. And my international relationships and networks that I’ve built over the years of being in this industry have helped CDFW to be what it is and what it was about. And through my understanding, a fashion week is all about the designers and those involved in the creative industry to celebrate their talents, exchange skills and network with the big fish of the sea. And the crowd is just the cherry on top.

What tangible benefits can the designers that showed at the fashion week look forward to as a direct result of participating? Without going any further, from the 6 that showcased at the fashion week, 3 have been invited to Angola for Fashion Business Angola taking place next week.

Was there a general theme or trend for the event at this year’s showing? It was advocacy for the development of the fashion, clothing and textile industry.

How will the buying public be able to acquire some of the designs from the show? The colour In the Desert Fashion Week Facebook group has all the designers’ contacts.

What were some of the challenges of staging the event, and how will these be remedied in future? FUNDING and support from private organizations.

There were a set of workshops that occurred in tandem with the fashion week, what was the content of the workshops and why was it relevant to the local fashion climate? As I had mentioned before, we were all about education and empowering…These workshops included amongst other entrepreneurship and developmental skills to help designers and fashion aspirants build and grow their businesses. Fashion is business and it is broad with so many carriers that young fashion designers in the industry would like to explore.

Which retailers or fashion buyers made an appearance at the event and what were their impressions of the fashion? This is a new concept that was launched for the first time and yet to be marketed through the right channels and those who matter. Rome was not built in a day and even big ones that you maybe comparing Colour in the Desert to started somewhere. When New York Fashion Week started it was not what it is today.

What similarities does the Botswana fashion milieu have with the countries which featured at Colour in the Desert Fashion week, eg Egypt, South Africa, Mozambique and Kenya? We all have a passion for fashion and a dream. We all have similar challenges and we are all involved in this movement of growing the fashion industry in Africa. We [are] all African fashion designers with different experiences, remember talent is not based on any particular geographical location.

What is next for Colour in the Desert? This is just the beginning for Colour in the Desert, what is in our calendar now is that we are taking [the] best designers to participate in Angola Fashion Business invited and recognised by the biggest fashion producer Jan Malan who was shocked by the talent that he experienced in Botswana, not only the designers, he is also interested [in] working with some models he scouted during his working period with Colour in the Desert.

The next fashion week after Angola Fashion Business is Swahili Fashion Week taking place in November where Colour in the Desert has been invited to showcase and will be taking some models and designers to exhibit the talent that Batswana have. It is amazing how we caught the relevant eyes of the right people in this industry.

Pics – Mikey S

Double the Trouble

12 Oct

Sorry to disappoint, but I am going to talk about something I can’t share with you yet… Move on.

Zeus is a bizzy little beaver, with the hair cut to match. He has been leveraging like a fulcrum of off anything and everything to get his music and love out there. The last powerful image I have of Zeus was him tearing up in the arms of a Naija manimal, yes Karen. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t hate on a TV character so don’t get hung up on that, it’s the image I want you to think about. Zeus/Karen. Zeus in Tears, Karen moved. Loads of support and hugging. For me that is Zeus, a real human being. He looked passed the grotesque (olde English for “unclassifiable”… trust me) and found the woman Karen probably was before she took the fame route. That is the Zeus I think is the foundation of the super star persona.

Back to the music, the new track “Double Wowza” is about to drop… umm, soon. The Botswana/Malawi collabo is an extension of that Big Brother Amplified (BBA) family of gifts. Tendai “Lomwe” Namate (Malawi’s poster boy of Heart) tag teams an epic sounding little bit of production with Zeus. I wish they threw down a remix as well where they did a Setswana/Chichewa Motswako thang… but what do I know about marketing music? Anyway a mixed tape is apparently lurking in the DIY (literally, Do it Yourself) music making machine. Its a mixed tape so anything can happen, such as Hanni (Ethiopian entrant on BBA) appearing on that jaunt.

For the Zeus hungry, there is an album and a music video on the horizon. About the album title, also called Double Wowza, the term Wowza is allegedly something Zeus and Lomwe used to say on Big Brother Amplified… I thought it was #I’mGoinIn… but I stand corrected, it also doesn’t make a catchy album title, “Double I’m Goin In”… see?

One last thing… a snippet from the press release and it is priceless…”After the exchange of battle-rhymes [On BBA], the question on the minds of the 40-45 million people watching the show around the continent was, “Will the artists do any work together after the show ends?” Double Wowza is the answer to that question!”

I guess 40-45 million African can rest easy now that their question is answered… or they can just put on their Dancing Shoes.

Pics – Lapologa Magazine

Fashionably Busy in Angola

11 Oct

“Thank You very much for the questions and I have to rush preparing for Angola.” Was the next to last line in Mpho Kuaho’s reply to some questions I had sent her about Fashion in Botswana (Check it in next post)… so what is this “Angola” she is rushing to then? Well… do you have a cushion? Place the cushion under your jaw now. What I am about to tell you, if you can imagine the future fearlessly, will simply blow your mind, or just drop your jaw.

Angola Fashion Business is huge, and when I say huge I mean beeg. This is a fashion industry event backed by beeg guns, Angola’s equivalent to Botswana’s Ministry of Minerals Energy & Water Resources…more or less. However, just to be precise the originator of the fashion industry event is Angola’s Ministry of Geology, Mining and Industry. Forget diamonds, dodgy copper & nickel reserves and barely scratched coal reserves, that ministry is responsible for oil reserves… just for starters. The other huge sponsor is Sonangol the oil company… like I said Beeg. So anyway no one there will be tramping about in gum boots and hard hats, its all going to be about strappy heels, chic fabrics and every conceivable aspect of beauty. Since Angola can be a bit pricey, especially to us who don’t earn in US Dollars, there is something else to get into… knowledge. At Angola Fashion Business there will be workshops ranging across all the various spheres that make up the fashion galaxy.

Come to think of it… this idea is languishing locally due to a general misunderstanding of the particular industry both at consumer and corporate level. And I kid you not, it could actually fly, especially if the ugly bits are trimmed out and only the beautiful core is kept on the table. The owners of the idea will make money casue y’all will attend in your thousands; the event itself will make beautiful because generally it is rather well though out; and the people blowing their hard earned Pulas there will be for once happy with the variety of the local consumer climate. Unfortunately I signed a piece of paper that says I can’t talk about what I know on that particular event or the owners will get upset… the modern day price of knowledge; silence. One day I will say I told you so… this will be what I was talking about.

Anyway, who will be representing in Angola? Why Mpho Kuaho of course, backed by the ever Divarish at some catwalk but impossible to find in stores Black Trash; and someone called Thato Mokgadi… don’t worry Monsieur Polk is on the case to find out more as well. Africa Fashion Week favourite Ethiopia’s Anna Getaneh of African Mosaique will be in the house; as will the usual vanguard of South Africa’s fashion, Mzanzi fashion flamingos David Tlale,  Kluk CGDT and new Flamingo on the fashion lake Gert-Johan Coetzee (Claim to shame – once dressed a Kardashian… but he is a lot more talented than that, just ask the Bedazzler herself Bonang Matheba). Thanks firstly to the first Africa Fashion Week (and more recently Colour in The Desert) we now know Soucha personally, even if many of us first realised Egypt was literally part of Africa when that country joined the Oust-a-Kleptocrat/Dictator Movement. The home team will feature Dina Simao, Carla Silva, Avelino Nascimento, Elisabete Santos, Lucrecia Moreira… I should stop your eyes are crossing just trying to figure out where you might have heard of them all… Dont worry I’ll ask for you.

Anyway more than 40 designers from over 20 African countries will help fill 6000 square meters with fashionability at the second annual Angola Fashion Business 2011, 14 -16 October. If you have friends in Angola tell them to send you a Revista Chocolate when it’s out, Joana the editor of Chocolate spent a part of September in the Okavango and she had a ball… so maybe the Colour in the Desert ambassadors will make the cut. 😉

Livin’ Lavida Like Riva

7 Oct

I guarantee you there is little you can go spend BWP40.00 on this weekend that will give you something genuinely new to talk about long after the weekend. Take in the Congolese film Viva Riva and you will jabber on like an excited kid at Riverwalk on a Saturday afternoon to all your friends and tweeps. Will you be talking about the sex…? Yes! Will you be talking about the abundant ass kicking…? That too! What about the gangster shizzle…? Wa tseba mos! There is also a killer story about owning your life’s choices…? Damn right you will!

Viva Riva is like this film that should exist but you didn’t know where to find it… right now we can honestly say it has found us. Comparisons of director Djo Tunda wa Munga to Tarantino were not snide remarks about a copy cat director, more an affirmation that the graphic side of life can work brilliantly if handled correctly. Innez, the German Counsellor’s partner in crime, may have felt that the violence was a bit much, and quite rightly so particularly when a woman was being beaten to the sound of a giggling Botswana audience. However the point is that the laughter, at seemingly the wrong times, may have just been an audience reacting to something they have seen before from Hollywood… it’s just that it was never with African actors speaking a raft of languages that included Lingala, Portuguese and French.

The 2011 MTV Movie Awards loved the film enough to give Viva Riva the inaugural Best African Film, which says the hip and with it young viewers could dig it. Yes Viva Riva is new in that it is a rebirth of Democratic Republic of Congo films, where film making was repressed initially by Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga then wars and so on for a quarter of a century. However Viva Riva’s  story and film style are tried and tested modern film making standards. Forget Nollywood’s chop-chop film making style where the key thing is abject simplicity, Viva Riva is where film making is right now, globally. A kick ass story, hot characters, an “exotic” location and a vigorous breaking of all the ten commandments in one sitting. Nice! The film’s anti-hero Riva (Patsha Bay Mukuna) is one dope kat who becomes a message about living life to the fullest, and accepting the responsibilities that come with that choice. The film takes place over a weekend, but Gabs city weekend thuggin’ is action packed and leaves us breathless and contentedly unfit for work on Monday, so we can relate.

It sucks a lot that Nora (Manie Malone) is like the one seriously hot woman it the whole film, especially when Monsieur Polk knows just how devastating Congolese beauties can be. Our boy Riva makes up for that oversight by going down on Nora… through the burglar bars of her boyfriend’s crib… No, seriously… that was just stone cold gangster, not to mention Riva having to jump the stop-nonsonso… twice, before and after. I said Gangster! Because the film is fast paced you don’t get to dwell on things too long; say like how a simmering racism between Africans can taint the conduct of public officials; and then how swiftly cash money can clean up their act; or how a concierge from a ramshackle hotel is able to pull miracles on par with his 5 star counterparts in better equipped cities; and the absolute grace of an Angolan gangster who pimp steps into another thug’s lair. It is all one exhilarating ride to an ending you least expect, but is very satisfying in its powerful gentleness.

I suspect the dialogue was filled with witticisms that the subtitling fought valiantly to bring forth with varying levels of success. Thankfully with actors like the Angolan gangster, Cesar (Hoji Fortuna) the job was easier; for instance in the church when the gangster asks each of his hostages who was useful to him…  the useless ones got a bullet, it was a very Tarantino moment… err Eish, after saying Tarantino twice in one long gush about the film Tsotsi could have been (Oscar or no Oscar) its time to reign in Monsieur Polk’s love for foreign films, especially ones Made in Africa. Viva Riva is at New Capitol Cinemas Game City from today, Friday 7th October.