Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Pan-Africanist Molosi steps up to a queer stage

When Rainbow School in Gaborone became infamous for abolishing Afro hair among its black students, it was the voice of none other than Molosi who brought about the reinstatement of the controversial hairstyle ban.

Molosi is not only Botswana’s own Hollywood star but one of Pan-Africanism’s stalwart advocates. He continues to vouch for African history to be taught in Botswana’s classrooms.

The author of the Dear Upright African manifesto and the founder of the Upright African Movement (UAM), Molosi said recently the manifesto won him the African Authors Award – a first for a Motswana writer

The co-founder of Queer Pride BW, Molosi will take part in A Queer Photography and Experimental Art Exhibition dubbed Serepudi which will be hosted by Queer Pride BW on Thursday at at Culture Art Café at Molapo Crossing in Gaborone.

The three-day exhibition will showcase Queer Photography by experimental artist Sade Shoalane and photographer Raymond Geofrey. It will also debut Molosi’s new critically-acclaimed British queer film called 2064.

Molosi is not only Botswana’s own Hollywood star but one of Pan-Africanism’s stalwart advocates. He continues to vouch for African history to be taught in Botswana’s classrooms.

The author of the Dear Upright African Manifesto and the founder of the Upright African Movement (UAM), Molosi said recently the manifesto won him the African Authors Award – a first for a Motswana writerexhibibition will run for three days. It will be held at Culture Art Café in Molapo Crossing.

Molosi says: Serepudi is Setswana for a stoop that one stands on in front of the house.

“It is a platform, and this exhibition wants to be that platform for inclusivity in Botswana arts. We are the generation that wants everyone to be represented in daily life and that is why we are standing on the serepudi of our shared dignity as human beings and queering Valentine’s Day this year through this exhibition. Serepudi is a necessary decolonization of our ideas about sexuality. You don’t have to be queer to believe in equality. You just have to have understanding,” he says.

Through his UAM, which seeks to put African history in the African classroom, Molosi said: “We also seek to ensure that the colonial traditions are done away within a learning setting.”

With his expertise in acting and the arts, Molosi said the government and the citizenry have to be more deliberate about creating superstars.

“Education needs to be decolonized so that one may learn arts and performance professionally from a young age,” he said. He further mentioned that art academies can be created by both government and the citizens as they “will inevitably create more stars with staying power, especially in my field.”

Questioned on his perceptions on the Government’s efforts at promoting theatrical art, Molosi said: “I think it’s impossible to expect the government to promote something they genuinely don’t know or don’t understand.”

“Botswana government is clueless about performing arts and so it follows that they would see arts as something inferior, something to exploit and never grow. That is why most of the country’s professional artists and performers live outside Botswana.”

One of the professional artists originating from Botswana as alluded by Molosi, is Hollywood actor, Warona Setshwaelo, who is also a former Big Brother contestant. She is known for her roles in movies like Deadfall, Northpole and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

Having garnered experience from performing globally for 20 years, Molosi believes that the arts are suppressed on purpose in Botswana.

He said leadership fears have always been to empower the artist.

“The shame of all this is that arts contribute a lot to the economy but are suppressed from being a stand-alone industry outside of a political and partisan manipulation we sadly see in today’s Botswana,” he said.

President of Botswana, Mogwetsi Masisi has ambitions of steering the country to a knowledge-based economy in pursuit of relinquishing dependence on raw minerals.

One of the starting points perhaps could be selling Botswana’s culture and traditions not only through tourism but also through visual media like plays, theatre and film.

Molosi is of the view that Botswana has an interesting story to tell, let alone sell. He said Botswana’s story is as intriguing as it is contested, at least in the history books taught currently. “Let’s start there, by teaching ourselves our history. Then we can think about exporting our shared histories with confidence,” he exhorted.

With more than 25 international acting awards and more than 15 writing awards, Molosi is an award-winning Broadway and Hollywood actor and writer. He is featured in “A United Kingdom” which depicts the marriage of Prince Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams in the 1940s and the uniting of the people of Botswana.

Through his copious experience and a barrage of networks, the actor has since given back to his home country through his consultancy Donald Molosi Entertainment. The consultancy links young Batswana actors with Hollywood mentors.

He said last year, two cast members of Game of Thrones mentored two young Batswana through his company. Molosi not only uses his company to benefit young Batswana but also through his Upright African Movement (UAM) campaign. Molosi said every month the UAM holds acting workshops throughout Botswana whether or not he’s in Botswana.

“I give back a lot. I am aware of the Botswana government’s limited efforts because of limited knowledge to necessitate arts experts like myself to do their part,” he further said.

“I have two master’s degrees in this field, so I know what giving back does for the next generation of performers,” said the president of the UAM.

Molosi says he’s a Pan-Africanist.

“My education in Botswana failed me and made me idolize European history instead of my African history,” he said.

“I had to change that and inform and educate myself back to loving and honouring the histories of my Black and African forebears. I am happily pan-African in all I do,” he continued.

Quizzed on his utopian version of Botswana, he said: “My ideal Botswana is a Botswana where people are given the opportunity to contribute to the nation despite their political affiliation. My ideal Botswana is one that feels as good as it looks on paper.”

For his parting words, Molosi said he is infuriated by Botswana’s unemployment figures. He believes the unemployment crisis is created on purpose by insisting on a colonial curriculum in 2020 still.

“Further, I want the unemployed youth to know that they should choose to organize and speak up, they have my support and I will march with them. The time is now!”

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