Life in Botswana is slow and poets and artists alike find inspiration in the cultural richness of the country. The contrabanditz was formed formed in early 2014, and is made up of five talented and diverse musicians from Gaborone. Fronted by the diminutive but dynamic Mandisa Mabuthoe, the band exudes a live performance energy that has been the bedrock of their success.
Although hailing from diverse backgrounds, between them the band’s members weave a musical magic that is highly infectious and undeniably groovy.
The term Contrabanditz is a synonym for “Against-Thieves”, and could be translated as Superheroes. In forming the band, the crew felt that the name should represent their stance against those who try to hurt the plight of artists in Botswana, also a promise to keep content creative, relevant and helpful to listeners while releasing studio singles of international quality and having memorable live performances. The Contrabanditz are a band of 5 musicians Mandisa Mabuthoe, Debbie with a T, Tafnaz the Acoustic Bad Boi, Boski the Percussionist and Aether.
As an urban arts legend, the bands lead singer, Mandisa Mabuthoe is a poet of note who won the Shoko Festival’s Poetry Slam last year, but she has also been exponentially increasing her fan base because of her prodigious vocal skills. She has also managed to grow her reputation in various art circles because of the passion she has for her art work, which is evident when she performs. Mabuthoe, for example, attributes the storytellers within her family as a huge source of inspiration to her own work.
Besides poetry Mandisa is also a playwright, performance artist, and an art teacher for young people.The band has been performing together since early 2013, and was officially formed when the 5 members were signed under Hoodwink events management in August 2014. Their sound is a fusion of Poetry, Hip-hop, Reggae, R&B, Afro beat, Blues, Rock, Jazz and Soul. At the moment the band is currently working on its first studio EP and performing regularly in Gaborone. The 1st single of The Contrabanditz is scheduled for release this April along with a video release.
Their performance highlights of 2014 were at the Botswana Music Union (BOMU) press conference in October. They also performed at the Soul Food Comedy Sessions, particularly at the roast of Nigel Amos in November and more recently at the Gaborone Sun new years’ party.
After receiving funding from the Youth Development Fund, Selby ‘Tswenglish’ Muir immediately formed the contrabandits. “I’ve been working in music for a long time without being directly involved with the making of it,” he said, with a boyish smile. “We’ve invested what we had on instruments and other gear and now we just want to use all our combined experience to make music which our country will be proud of!”
Japhala “Aether” Gwangwa, who also happens to be the nephew of the famous South African Jazz maestro Jonas Gwangwa, says “it is an ambitious band, musically intelligent, collective of individually refined artists brought together by a common purpose.” Bobo ‘Boski the Percussionist’ Senwelo concludes by saying, “we want to create world class music and we work hard to make it look easy.”