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.
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.