This past weekend I had the pleasure of accompanying award winning Iyasa for a function in Gaborone. I have to be honest after seeing the flier I actually visualised some tribal event done in a foreign land.
The event was brought to the community by an organisation called Sibanye. Getting there the main attraction was how everyone seemed dressed for the event.
There was colour in traditional Ndebele regalia from Children to adults. There was even an Ndiweni chief to officiate dressed in full ibhetshu.
The event is according to the organisers a celebration of Ubuntu. It was a mixture of speech, poetry, dance, fashion and music. What was amazing though were the numbers at the gig. The entry fee for adults was 50 Pula and children 30 Pula.
Where is the business sense? Here is a paying audience in a 500-seater theatre. Better yet a paying appreciative audience.
Who is playing? The organisers have imported local poet Dumi, South Africa-based Maskandi artiste Zinjaziyamluma, Iyasa and a Zimbabwean boy now turned Motswana darling called Cassper. Iyasa are the usual darlings when it comes to dance.
But the icing on the cake was when they played their anthem Sjaiva Sibancane. I saw the whole theatre standing up to sing along and dance. Matched Iyasa word for word and move for move.
Zinjaziyamluma is also gaining reasonable fan ground like he has in South Africa. He is popular again in Botswana with the Zimbabwean community.
Dumi was his usual energetic poet. He mesmerised the Ndebele community with his tongue twister Ndebele language.
The fourth act was Cassper. This boy grew up in Plumtree and was introduced to the industry by Thabo J Nkomo.
He knows how to handle his audience, his music is traditional music laced with modern instrumentation. He still fuses it with amabhiza, setape and isitshikitsha sounds. He had the whole theatre eating out of his palm.
When I posted that I was in Botswana for a show with Iyasa, one critic quickly jumped to ask if it was a commercial gig? Yes, it was, people paid to get in. The part that made it a gold mine was how all the performing artistes made quick bucks from selling CDs and DVDs. A week ago when Nkululeko Dube of Iyasa told me he was printing 300 DVDs of Iyasa show to take to Botswana I honestly thought he was being ambitious, that only happens in Europe.
But that day I watched people buy Iyasa DVDs like it was hot cakes. The DVDs were going for 50 Pula each and the people still wanted more.
So yes, speaking to the local community I realised that the people there need the entertainment.
They are a small local community but there is also the possibility of tapping into the Batswana market.
There is actually a cry by other communities in bigger cities like Francistown and Maun that such events should spread wings.
Botswana enjoys not having stifling laws as far as arts are concerned. DJs go there as they please with no hassle. Maybe ita��s about time we spread our wings and enjoy the Pula.
Congratulations to Nkululeko Dube and Iyasa for winning two awards at the Sibanye Event for their contribution to Zimbabwean Arts.
I loved how the community encouraged a national dress for the Ndebele community. Batswana and Namibians have those. Until next week, be safe . . . @nkuenkala 0772214373