Banjo Mosele, Botswana’s famous guitarist, singer and composer who is currently based in Norway, has hit the country shores with his newly released album “Across the Equator”.
Mosele, who is in the country promoting his album, is worried that the structures and policies in place in Botswana are a hindrance towards the development of music in Botswana.
The country’s foremost musician is concerned that the music that is supposed to be turned into cultural tourism has been discarded to the periphery of the tourism industry.
“We should use our music by playing live shows in hotels to show the tourists our culture. Currently, a tourist visiting Botswana has nothing to learn about our music and culture because hotels hire DJs who always carry laptops and play CDs. When tourists go back home they only talk about Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park and wildlife,” he said.
Mosele felt that a policy should be put in place to encourage hotels to hire bands and groups that will play and showcase Batswana culture. He feels that if there are such arrangements, most of the musicians will also benefit because it will create employment for them.
The musician further noted that if hotels are left to hire DJs who play CDs in hotels, it will tarnish and kill the music industry.
As a musician, he is not yet considering coming back home especially that the music industry in Botswana is not profitable.
What worries him is that facilities and conducive environment are not availed to those willing to turn music into a profession.
He says failure to put up infrastructure for artists is a hindrance towards empowering most of the youth who are willing to turn their music into a profession.
Mosele says they are no rehearsal places where musicians can practice before they go and perform on stage.
The legendary musician further noted that the studios are owned by quite a small number of people making it difficult for people to practice.
“It is very difficult to be a full time musician here in Botswana. You should be working and it really affects the development of artists. You will be surprised that people perform on stages without practicing. They are too many problems that need concerted effort to improve the music industry,” he added.
Mosele feels that most of the artists are just doing shortcuts in the music industry. He warned that musicians would not grow if they are not fully committed in music.
He added that currently youth are taught to make money in the music industry. The setup is not imparting knowledge to the youth but only encourages them to sing and make money.
He said that when they started their band in the 70s they were not thinking of money but they had passion to learn. He also noted that the money issue came later after they learnt how to sing and use instruments.
Dedication is what is needed, according to him, if someone needs to go places in the music industry. He encouraged musicians to believe in what they are doing because that is the only way in which they will succeed. He was concerned that most of the artists only think of success before they learn.
“We learnt a lot before we could record and play music. There was a culture of live music and, at this juncture, they actually taught the youth the wrong things. It’s very sad because you will see artists performing using CDs and it should be totally discouraged. This is the route to a short term career, he said, asking how they are going to learn instruments and how to sing when they perform while listening to a CD. “If you can’t learn to play instruments and sing how are you to learn the skills?”
He encouraged the upcoming young artist to use their language when they sing. He is convinced that when someone sings in his/her mother tongue they sing better. He explained that music empowers them to express themselves.
He further explained that they are bands from Africa that continue to dominate the music industry in Europe.
“Batswana could do better in that market even when they sing in their language. Artists will come from Zimbabwe and perform at a festival in Europe. We need to work hard in Botswana for our artists to be felt worldwide,” said.
During his stay here, Mosele stated that he will be marketing his album in Botswana and South Africa before he goes back to Norway.