Odirile Rammoni, also known as Lesilo, will on September 24 lead a 21-member traditional group to Canberra, Australia, for the celebration of the Botswana Embassy’s 10 years’ existence in that country. The event is scheduled for September 26.
It will be followed a day later by the launch of the 2014 multi- cultural festival in which the group will also participate. His group is called Ngwao letshwao performing arts and is popular for its sterling performance in President’s arts competitions. Its performance in the past year’s competition earned the group the air ticket to the Australia event. The group emerged tops in the ‘Dihosanna’ dance – a Kalanga dance.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Lesilo, who hails from Gabane, said that his 25-member group consists of young people from various places and tribes of the country. It is this eclectic mix that allows it to perform various forms of music – Dihosanna, Selete, Setapa, Phathisi, Tsutsube, Mokomoto as well as Ndazola.
“We got first position in the Hosanna category 2012 president’s competitions and represented Botswana in Brussels, Belgium, sponsored by Brand Botswana and Motor Centre. We were invited by Botswana’s Ambassador to Belgium. He came here and I approached him, and convinced him that we could represent our country there,” explained Rammoni.
“In February 2013, financial constraints barred us from representing Botswana at a multicultural festival in Australia. I thereafter did some research and discovered that Botswana’s embassy in Australia will be turning ten years in existence. I did the best thing of approaching the Ambassador there, convince him that we are the best group in Botswana, and will be happy to display our talent in that country. That did it.”
The versatile Rammoni, who earned the name ‘Lesilo’ from his facial expression when in full musical swing, revealed that he is accredited by Botswana Training Authority [BOTA] as a Music Trainer, Assessor, Moderator and Adjudicator for traditional song, dance and [traditional] musical instruments. He says he has researched for all sorts of music in Botswana.
Highlighting on his music track from the past few years, Lesilo says he founded the group in 2005, albeit informally. He later trained another group called Ditshwene of Mokolodi, leading it to the United Kingdom and Belgium in 2006. Two years later, he was in the United States of America for a year as a cultural Ambassador.
In 2010, Lesilo went with Mogwana traditional dance group to Chiang Hai, China, to participate in the Global Expo. His assignment was to manage an ensemble of traditional musical instruments like segaba and others.
A year later, he was back with his group, then fully registered, and participated in president’s competitions. The group got third position in the Hosanna category. It thus could not proceed to the national level. Nevertheless, he and his group did not give up.
Before they go to Australia, they will participate in a cultural festival scheduled for Marikana, South Africa from the 1th to the 20th September.
“People there in the North West Province would like to resuscitate their tradition which seems to be rendered none-existent by the powerful Zulu and Xhosa traditions which seem to be the only ones in existence in that country,” said Lesilo.
He cites misunderstanding of his role in the lives of young people by parents as one of his nerve wrecking challenges. His critics often convince parents that he is using their children. They thereafter encourage them to leave him. Some of them join established stars who manipulate them in all means possible, leaving them broken hearted and regretful. With him their children benefit from training and he provides them with perdiums, funds that they cannot get from anyone freely.
His other challenge is that some of the tribes in Botswana are uncooperative and feel he copies their music and dance. They therefore criticize him, something he feels will not take this country anywhere in terms of cultural unity. The fact that European countries organise such things as multi cultural festivals should be a lesson to Batswana that the world is one.