When traditional music groups broke out in early 2000 there was hope that our national culture will be preserved and not swallowed up by western music and culture. One of the country’s pioneering traditional dance groups, Machesa Traditional Group, later won international accolades and was even nominated for a Kora award. However, it was Culture Spears who elevated traditional music to greater heights. The group broke into the limelight with their hit song, Selonyana, and immediately enjoyed massive airplay in local and international radio stations, including Motsweding FM.
At the pinnacle of their career, Culture Spears performed for South African President, Thabo Mbeki, at a cultural festival in France. The group was formed by three high school friends who have remained humble and stuck together for the past nine years. They now boast of numerous top selling albums and the enviable title of the most successful music group in the country. In a country where music careers are shattered before they even start, Culture Spears have over the years remained intact and down to earth, never misled by celebrity status and super stardom. They recently released their latest offering Kulanche, amid rumours that cracks were beginning to emerge in their once solid group.
But the group leader, Kabelo Mogwe, immediately rubbished the claims. Sunday Standard managed to track down Culture Spears’ co-owner and shareholder Thembeni ‘Ramozara’ Ramosetlheng at Kulenyane Studios to get the truth behind rumours that Culture Spears are on the verge of a breakup. The pint-sized dancer, singer and comedian sat down to set the record straight when his group members were performing in Kasane. He dismissed the group’s standard response that he was committed elsewhere, saying he was deliberately sidelined by his partners.
“I am still a member and shareholder of the group, but somehow I now find myself sidelined by management,” he said.
He revealed how Kabelo Mogwe and Charma Gal, the leader of Culture Spears and his wife, have sidelined him and demoted him to a mere dancer. He recalled how he used to be a well respected member of the group who was appointed as Finance Director, but has now been reduced to a mere employee who is sometimes not paid for his efforts.
“I was part of Charma Gal’s Ekentolo project from volume 1 to volume 4, but was suddenly sidelined and ignored by management. We could not agree on many things, so I decided to stay away,” he said.
Ramosetheng said he was never paid for his role in Ekentolo and was mysteriously excluded from the Ekentolo volume 5 project, which produced the hit Chomi Yame. He added that since the beginning of this year he has not been called for any rehearsals or performances.
“I am being sidelined. I have had enough and I don’t see any chances of reconciliation,” he said.
An artist who was once part of Kulenyane Studios also revealed how the group has been denying its internal brawls for years. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he accused Kabelo Mogwe of failing to stamp his authority and always taking instructions from his wife. He revealed that things changed for the worst after Kabelo and Magdalene got married in 2011 as the Culture Spears project was reduced to a family affair. When contacted for comment, Kabelo Mogwe said there was no truth in rumours that the group was on the verge of collapse.
“These rumours are not new; they are peddled by people who are trying to break us up. But they only make us stronger. I repeat, Culture Spears is not breaking apart,” he said.