Saturday, March 2, 2024

Maru A Pula: Inside the Gathering Rain Clouds

Prolific photographer Thalefang Charles is set to take us on a journey that depicts his grand fascination with rain clouds. The exhibition, which is titled ‘Maru A Pula’, will open to the public from September 20 at Thapong Visual Arts Centre in Gaborone.
The theme of this body of work serves as a focal point on the significance of pula, says Charles: “I have learnt that rain is the most important event in our land. We are the people of the desert, and in order for us to tame the harsh Kalahari, we have learnt to spend months, waiting, hoping and praying for good rains. During this month, Batswana say maru a lwala which directly translates to ‘clouds are sick’ hence this month is called Lwetse. I therefore found it fitting that on this month of ‘sick clouds’ I present this collection.”
On whether this is retrospective work on other meanings of Pula and how Botswana relate to them, Charles explains that he is using photography as a tool to demystify its various meanings. “Pula is so essential that it is our national motto and our currency too. And at some innate Setswana traditional events like Patlo during the marriage process, Pula is also used as a greeting by the pleading groom’s delegation party. It bears various connotations.”
To Charles, nature is spectacle to continuously explore, as an avid traveler. “September, Botswana’s independence month, is the month of new clouds. It is a period when my people begin to expectantly watch the sky and prepare for rain as the clouds start to gather and promise rain. This exhibition was prepared with the hopes that it would help to highlight the significance of rain clouds to Batswana. It is a showcase that endeavors to present an artist’s view of Maru A Pula as well as an academic view of Pula,” added the photographer.
Author and academic linguist Prof. Thapelo Otlogetswe who published Setswana dictionary ‘Thalosi Ya Medi Ya Setswana’ will also present a paper around the Maru A Pula theme at the opening ceremony. 
Thalefang Charles published bucket list book ‘Botswana’s Top 50 Ultimate Experiences’ last year which was widely received. The book is currently available at selected bookstores such as Exclusive Books.



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