Festival Opening Night, A Review by Rethabile Mpatane
April 12, 2018: the start of the 2018 Maitisong Festival, the day that we’ve been waiting for. After months of preparation and many hours of rehearsal, the day arrived and it was beyond amazing.
Before doors opened, there was an all too familiar, nervous but excited buzz of energy emanating from most, if not all, who were present. Performers were getting ready to showcase their talent and hundreds of audience members came to experience the magic of the arts. It was packed house, which was quite encouraging because it showed how much Batswana enjoy and support the Arts. Several VIPs were in attendance, such as the Honorable First Lady Ms Neo Masisi, the Mayor of Gaborone Mr Kagiso Thutlwe, former Maitisong Directors, David Slater, Gao Lemmenyane and Ditsala tsa Maitisong to name a few.
For this year’s Festival, the theme is Lore Lo Ojwa Lo Sale Metsi, to show the importance of supporting young and local artists. With this in mind, the show combined cultural and modern elements, reflecting on them to show what they mean to Batswana and youth in Botswana.
Hosted by Dollar Mac and Ratie Kefitlhile, the evening began with beautiful music from the extremely talented Maru-a-Pula School Marimba Band. There were opening remarks by Mr Slater and the Mayor, who both touched on the History of Maitisong, the contribution it has made to the arts thus far and how we can continue to support local talent in Botswana. Their remarks helped to set the tone for what to expect during the Festival.
Songbirds Jordan Moozy and Katlego Ntirang, whose performances were breathtaking, sang the theme song alongside the choir and band. There were also amazing, multitalented dancers and an engaging poetry recital, which fit perfectly with the festival theme. The entire performance was electrifying. It invoked a lot of emotion. It was aesthetically pleasing and just simply magnetizing. You just had to be there to witness it.
The Opening Night was just amazing and worth getting a ticket for. It definitely set the tone for the Festival and showed the audience that supporting the Arts is a thoroughly entertaining and worthwhile experience.
Morongoa Basadi Mosetlhi, affectionately known as Moe, joined Maru-a-Pula School as Communications Co-Ordinator in January 2017. Her interest in the arts comes from her maternal grandmother, who was a radio presenter for RB1 in the 90s and made pottery as a hobby. From an early age, her first love was writing but, having parents who are bankers, she chose to study for the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) professional qualification at the Botswana Accountancy College. During that time, she co-founded Art of the Soul Organization, a non-profit organization aimed at engaging youth through the arts. She also gained extensive experience as a Financial Accountant, Tax & Management Consultant.
Morongoa’s artistic career began in 2009 when she was cast for the local TV drama Re Bina Mmogo. It has grown extensively to include Aldo Brincat’s Passion Play, the Maitisong Festival, Gaborone Music and Culture Week (GIMC), and Maun International Arts Festival. Behind the stage, she has assisted in the management, planning and production of shows for various artists. She is a featured poet with Badisha Poetry X-Change and on South African Jazz musician Thuto Motsemme’s My Dream.
Through her work with MaP and Maitisong, Morongoa has enjoyed widespread and invaluable exposure to the other side of the arts. She believes in living a life that is an inspiration to others. She hopes to, one day, use the collective experience gained over the years to make a real contribution to the local arts industry. In addition, she would like to visit a Tibetan Monastery and live to see Africa become a united and stable community.
Songstress Samantha Mogwe is a Motswana-Zambian who fuses the elements of Neo Soul and Rythm and Blues. She was exposed to music at an early age and encouraged to tell stories through music, writing and poetry. She is a multifaceted individual who places great value on education and re-invention. She holds a degree in Theology, from the Baptist Theological College in Randburg, and is currently studying music and singing with the Trinity College of London.
The starlet holds a number of accolades including being the only Motswana to make the Top 24 of African Idols, sharing the stage with international artists such The Soil, Lira, Hugh Masekela, Joe Thomas and Kenny Latimore, speaking at the 2017 Ted-X Gaborone Conference and winning a YAMA (Yarona FM Music Award) for Best Female Artist in 2014 and a BOMU (Botswana Music Award) for Best Packaged Album of 2015.
Since her childhood, Talenta has always wanted to be on television. The love for it was always there. She went to Seepapitso Senior Secondary School in Kanye, where she passed her BGCSE. From there, because of the love she had for film, she went to Limkokwing University in 2011, studying for an Associate Degree in Television and Film Production. In 2017, she performed in Season 3 of the local radio drama, Barclays Madi Majwana and worked on upcoming projects such as the movie Chief, and the series Colours.
Performance has always been a great passion of hers, and she excels at it. Her great communication skills and positive attitude makes her a breeze to work with. Not only does she love being in front of the camera, she also seeks to work behind it as well. As an Intern for Maitisong, she hopes to learn how to do theatrical productions from the ground up. She wants to learn about all the necessities are before, during and after live shows, with the hope that, one day, she will produce a show of her own.
After taking a break from school, she has enrolled back into the course to finish her last few modules before graduating, and is currently interning in Maitisong.
Boitumelo was the Maitisong Administration Officer for the past two and a half years. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and is passionate about the arts. As a musician, working in the arts has exposed her to how different artists command the stage with their presence and captivate their audiences.
Boitumelo now freelances as a Consultant and will continue work within Maitisong as a Festival Consultant. She believes passion, fuelled by ambition, sustains an individual.
Nonofo Moselekatsi is the Assistant Technician and has been working at Maitisong for the past six years. He studied Electronics and Electrical Engineering at ABM College. He works with light, sound and stage setups, alongside Johanne Gaorengwe.
He is motivated by working with various people within the arts community and hopes that he can help Maitisong grow into one of Africa’s most successful theatres. Nonofo enjoys seeing artists in their element and being in creative spaces that are new and challenging. He believes a challenge is an opportunity to grow and learn something new. Over the years at Maitisong, he has learned that patience goes a long way.
Johane Gaorengwe, affectionately known as Joe, has been working for Maitisong since 1998 as the Sound and Lighting Technician. His daily life involves rigging lights and sound and setting the stage for upcoming events. He studied Electrical Installation and Appliances at Lobatse Brigade Center, where he graduated in 1997 before beginning his career with Celetrix (as an electrician) and Firefox (as a lighting technician).
He works closely with MaP’s Drama and Music Departments, as well as clients who book the theatre (production director, stage manager and technical crew). As a technician, his work also involves plotting and assembling the lights, placing filters and burn doors accordingly, focusing lights during rehearsals, and operating and maintaining the sound desk and lighting console during performances. As a qualified electrician, Joe handles the electrical maintenance of Maitisong and the School in general. He also handles the procurement process for the theatre and provides technical support to all the Theatre’s clients.
Throughout his career, Joe has had the opportunity to work numerous local and international artists. He delights in interacting with diverse cultures and longs to see an advancement in the technological aspect of the arts in Botswana. Joe believes experience is gained from different people coming together and exchanging skills and knowledge.
Nikita Neo Mokgware’s love for drama began at a very young age and has not dimmed since. She is a professionally trained actress, holding a Bachelor’s of Arts Honours degree in Drama and Film Studies from the University of Pretoria. She majored in Performance studies, Screenwriting and Physical Theatre.
Nikita performed in numerous shows while studying in South Africa, such as Myer Taub’s Christine’s Room and Micia de Wet’s Go sa na le Leina, which was showcased at the State Theatre during the Vavasati International Women’s Festival in 2016. She performed during the annual Krekvars Festival held at the University of Pretoria, which also won awards during their run: Carla Classen’s She Cried and Forgot to Say Sorry – a physical theatre performance that won the US Woordfees Prize, 2016 – and Aneshree Paul’s Lucidity, where Nikita won the Kyknet Award for Best Actress, 2015.
Since moving to Gaborone mid-2017, Nikita has performed in shows for business conferences and children’s theatre. She also frequently volunteered to help with the backstage running of shows in the Maitisong Theatre, and in November, was appointed stage manager for Mascom’s President’s Concert 2017. Currently, Nikita is the assistant director and scriptwriter for the radio drama Matswaka Bae, in collaboration with Sky Girls BW. She is also the PA for Maitisong theatre under the supervision of Director Tefo Paya.
Tefo Omphile Paya is a BQA accredited, formally trained, Performance Specialist. He holds an MA (Master of Arts degree) in Dramatic Arts from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, where he majored in Performance Studies and Theatre as Activism, Education and Therapy. He received a distinction for his thesis, which focused on masculine identity, rituals and rites of passage in performance.
Tefo has over a decade of experience as an actor, teacher, facilitator and performance consultant. He has worked with internationally renowned directors such as Warren Nebe, Mandla Mabothwe, James Ncgobo, Warona Seane and Moabi Mogorosi. He is one of the founding members of the Company@Maitisong. The Company@Maitisong is the production arm of Maitisong Theatre which has produced powerful plays such as Sephiri Se Dule (Setswana phrase meaning ”the secret is out”), Brothers’ Bones and Born Around Here. They also produced the popular radio drama Madi Majwana, which is sponsored by Barclays Bank of Botswana to educate Batswana on issues of financial literacy.
Tefo has been extensively involved in all of these projects, including being an integral part of the Maitisong Festival over the past four years. Tefo has managed venues, helped create the programme, overseen the theatre section, and organized activations to market the Festival. Here, he gained valuable experience in curating and managing festivals.
Throughout his career, Tefo has won many awards, both academically and professionally. Most recently, he received the Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award at the Grahamstown Festival for the one-man play Morwa, which he wrote and performed. He is currently the Director of Maitisong, Botswana’s premier theatre located at Maru-a-Pula School.