Jazz music has not always been popular among Batswana. It was predominantly a genre made fashionable by African American communities in the 19th and 20thcenturies. Jazz music in Africa is deeply rooted within the black experience of the apartheid era says jazz promoter and radio show host Shima Monageng.
Monageng has been promoting jazz music for 25 years, hoping the genre would be embraced by Batswana. Jazz was born in Botswana during the 70s and 80s as musical legends such as Hugh Masikela and Jonas Gwangwa were exiled and pursued homage in Botswana. Later musical groups were assembled that encompassed a musical band, cultural studies all in the aspiration of the appreciation of jazz music hence the formation of the Kalahari band that included Hugh Masikela and Banjo Mosele that toured Europe in the 80s.
Monageng has been at the helm of promoting jazz music in Botswana and discovering gems in the form of young talent. He is responsible for summoning acts such as Miriam Makeba, Sipho Gumede, Tshepo Tshola, Sonti Nbelele and Jimmy Dludlu to share the stage with up and coming local artists.
‘’It was not always easy” Monageng said.
He faced challenges such as the small market, restrictions of entertainment hours and the alcohol levy. As a result venue owners became reluctant to host sizable jazz festivals thus the millennium jazz restaurant was formed.
The jazz restaurant was a platform for young and established jazz musicians to showcase their musical prowess and to create a conducive and appropriate experience for mature jazz lovers.
‘’ In my pursuit to promote jazz coupled with staging live concerts, I took jazz to the people through my radio show The Joy of Jazz Fusion” which is aired every Sunday morning on Gabz fm Monageng said.
Although still in infancy Botswana has had jazz pioneers in the likes of John Selolwane, Banjo Mosele, Duncan Senyatso, and Socca Moruakgomo to name of few. They have continued to be musical ambassadors and performed all over Europe. Recently the baton has been handed over to the new divas and maestros in jazz like the saxophonist Lister Boletseng, Punah Gabasiane, Nunu Ramagotsi, Kearoma Rantao and Nono Silhe to name a few. This crop of young artists have played their part and created albums which are currently enjoying airplay in and outside the country. ‘’ You listen to Amatle Brown, Samantha Mogwe, Lezibo, Seeretsi and the Natives, Helen Dikobe and Sethunya Maele, and you will agree with me that their talent is somehow new and fresh” Says Monageng.
Monageng will honor Botswana’s independence with a two day musical extravaganza in his hometown of Molepolole.
Festivities will begin on Saturday the 30th September at the Ramakgatlanyana lands in the outskirts of Molepolole where cultural choirs (dikwaere) will be entertaining crowds and competing for prize money. The program will commence from 10.00am till 5am the following day, admission will be free. The following day Monageng will broadcast his Gabz fm radio show live (Joy of jazz fusion) from the Rocklane lodge (1SToctober) The live broadcast will commence from 14.00pm till 18.00pm followed by various Batswana jazz artists who will perform until 22.00pm. Some of the artists who have promised to assist at the event are Duncan Senyatso, ‘’Gee the guitarist”, Nono Siile, of the ‘’Nthekela ring”, lister Boleseng, (The saxophonist of all time) The legendary pianist Lekofi Sejeso, Fresh Lesokwane, The Queen of jazz Punah Gabasiane, The sensational song bird Kearoma Rantao, Bro john Selolwane, the father and jazz maestro known for his fabulous song ‘’ O ya kae koo”, Shanti lo and the list goes on. All done in the name of jazz jazz jazz. The entry fee is fifty Pula.
‘’We are expecting senior citizens that hardly ever get mature entertainment suitable for their stature” said Monageng.
Both events guarantee tight security to ensure a feel good independence celebration.