Botswana: Country's Music Export
Botswana's music export to Norway, Banjo Mosele is back in the country for a series of shows ahead of the festive season.
Mosele said in Gaborone yesterday that he would be here until next year, collaborating with local musicians.
Mosele, who hopes to form a band, said he is interested in the development of traditional and folk music. "That is my dream. I want to take this type of music to another level."
In the past, Mosele worked with folk musicians like George Swabi and the Molepolole-based Stampore.
He plans to conduct international tours with the new band before returning to Norway next year.
He says one of the musicians he would be collaborating with is drummer Enock Mbewe. The two veterans started working together in 2000 and last year, Mosele invited him to Norway for a brief visit.
Mosele said Mbewe was in fact one of the members of his original band, which recorded his debut album.
He is working on his third album and wants to involve Mbewe on this project as well. "We want to work on material for the album by performing live together. We are doing rehearsals together," he said.
However, Mosele would also like to establish some rapport with other musicians. "We are looking at other people to work with because we have a big dream for artistes in Botswana."
Mosele left Botswana in the early 90s to settle in Europe. He says because the local market is small, they would be looking at exporting their music. Not only is the market limited, Mosele says in Botswana they also play to small audiences.
But he is thankful for the support he has received from local music lovers. In fact, he says, his first album sold very well in the country. "I also have feel so excited when I perform for my people. They have been so supportive. They kept us going for a long time.
"But when it comes to the market, how many venues do we have that can cater for us? We need sponsorship," he said about the challenges facing the local music scene.
Mosele said local musicians have no choice but to target the international market. The best thing, according to him, is to look at improving folk and traditional music so that it can be accepted worldwide.
Having been in the business for 30 years, Mosele has realised that the country has good traditional music that lacks exposure.
Mosele also spoke about the struggles of local musicians. He said old musicians live a hard life, adding that artistes have always been neglected and many have died as paupers.
"Home is always home, I don't like to live in another country but it is tough here. We have been fending for ourselves," he said.
"Our music is played on radio and television but we have never been paid. I don't like to sound like an angry man but the reality is that it has been very tough."
He said it is hightime politicians took the musicians' plight into consideration. Noting that arts has been neglected for the past 41 years, Mosele said Botswana is the only country, which is not included in the encyclopedia of African music. "We are not crying but it has come to a point where it has gone too far. We don't even have a national theatre.
Politicians should do something. I have to call a spade a spade. Enough is enough," he charged.
"We don't want to be given money for charity but we want to be paid for our work. It is a miracle that musicians are still surviving."
Mosele said there is massive talent in the country but the artists are discouraged because of lack of incentives.
However, Mosele hopes that organisations like the Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) would come to artistes' rescue. "We need to speak with one voice. I give BOMU my thumbs-up. We are willing to support the union."
Mosele, who studied music in the United Kingdom (UK), said the course opened new venues for him. He said after studying music, it became easier for him to work with international artistes. "If I didn't go to a music school, I could not have survived in a foreign country."
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He is wishing that the next generation of musicians would also study music. He said in other countries, students are offered music lessons after formal classes.
Mosele would like to see the same thing done in Botswana since children would be exposed to music at a tender age.
Meanwhile, Mosele will be performing at Satchmos' Jazz Cafe with Stampore this weekend. Their shows start tomorrow (Friday) and ends on Saturday.