Here is the scenario. Ten Hip hop dance crews, from across Botswana, battling it out for the first ever Botswana hip hop dance competition titled Dance like you mean! 2007. Well, with hip hop dance’s revival of sorts in American urban videos in the late 90s, street dance is taking over again since its breakdance era in the 80s. Young people from Lobatse to London and back to Lagos are street dancing, and as a result countless dance competition titles are competed for worldwide.
Locally, Dance like you mean it! promises to embrace the hip hop movement holistically, roping in personalities who immersed in some aspects of the culture, such as Emile Jansen, aka Emile YX of Black Noise. Recording group.
Black Noise is a hip hop group originating from Cape Town, South Africa, that competes in world renowned breaking (break-dance) titles. Dance also has included Zibanane Madumo, aka DJ O’Neal of Yarona FM, and Vincent Tiro, aka Steez of BTV’s Flava Dome. Steez has also released his debut album.
Though contenders must be aged between 14 and 19 years, this initiative is targeted at Hip hop and Dance lovers. She has informed teachers at over ten secondary schools.
When I spoke to Chenjelani Ndaba, the 25-year-old, young woman behind Diorama and Dance like you mean it! she quickly quipped that she prefers being called Chenje and adds that though she is a graphic designer by profession, her organisation, Diorama, is an arts, entertainment and culture promotions agency. She says that the project has been a work in progress for a very long time. She has managed to secure support from Energym, a Gaborone North based health club that will host Dance like you mean it! auditions. All Kasi will provide are clothes voucher prizes and Tataa Promotion will dress the competing crews.
Apart from hip hop dance’s mushrooming popularity, why choose this particular expression of dance? Considering that Hip hop dance crews are few compared to bomajaivane (kwaito dancers) as evident in other talent shows.
“It’s a way of communicating with young people, on their terms, using an expressive culture that has spoken out on the social climate of disenfranchised communities in the past.”
Referring to the age-old debate of whether rap is poetry Chenje says, “Rap is poetry; many may not pick up a book to read poetry but will listen to rap lyrics being recited.”
But, why hip hop? It is considered to be elitist, in our circumstance, hip hop tapes arrived in Botswana, sidled in suitcases of the few who had the fortune to go to the States for education. Its English lyrics recited fluently by teenagers who had the privilege of English medium private schooling.
“That is true but the climate has changed,” Chenje protests, “Because now we have Ikalanga and Setswana rap, every Motswana kid can identify with it.
“In fact hip hop still suffers from incorrect notions people hold. Hip hop has gotten a bad rap.”
She tittered quickly adding, “No pun intended. This is due to the commercial machine that has glorified female objectification, violence and overpriced clothing and accessories.
“This competition is aimed at young people, to have them take part in the creative industries. Look at how the South African industry has grown, we as Batswana need to develop our own and not leech off other cultures.”
Coincidentally, Chenje says this on a day preceding one where South African renowned entertainment promoter Peter Tladi, reveals that a recent study reports that the South African Creative Industry is valued at R7.4 billion and employs 20525 people.
Chenje remains optimistic of gaining more sponsors. The auditions are scheduled for July 14 at Energym. There is a possibility of the qualifying dancing groups working with a choreographer. There is a registration fee of P20.