Sunday, March 26, 2023

Prominent traditional dancer Kedumotse passes on

Renowned Setswana traditional dancer Onkabetse Jackson Kedumotse, who died from respiratory complications associated with chronic asthma on June 2, in Kauletsa, Limpopo Province, South Africa, was expected to be buried buried at the Gabane Village Cemetery yesterday (Saturday June 8).

Kedumotse’s body arrived in Gaborone by road from SA on June 5, in preparation for funeral arrangements and the burial over the weekend.

Although the 34-year-old Kedumotse’s sudden death on the fateful Saturday night was believed to be the result of a severe asthmatic seizure, very little was known about the chronic condition because of the awesome amounts of energy he displayed on and off stage at the peak of his artistic career.

Kedumotse, the single parent of a 12-year old son, Thatho, is survived by a mother, Mme Ntebejane Batsalelwang Kedimotse, and three sisters. He left Botswana for SA in mid 2011 and had been working as an auto electrical mechanic for a passenger transport company.

Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, Dr. Kolaatamo C.S. Malefho, told LifeStyle in Gaborone last week that asthma, thought to be caused by a combination of “Genetics” genetic and environmental factors, is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the respiratory systems characterized by reversible airflow obstruction and a sudden constriction of the muscles in the walls of the bronchioles called bronchospasm.

Common asthmatic symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and “Shortness of breath” shortness of breath.

“Although asthmatic patients can survive longer life spans if their conditions are properly managed, in the absence of remedial first aid, severe asthmatic seizures can result in sudden death within three minutes,” Dr. Malefo said.

Ngwao Letshwao Performing Arts Dance Troupe Managing Director, Odirile Rammoni, mourned his fallen comrade and bosom buddy. Their friendship and camaraderie stretched over more than two decades, beginning from 1992.

The inconsolable Rammoni lamented: “News of Kedumotse’s sudden death has been hard to believe as he was at some stage Ngwao Letshwao co-director. The late Kedumotse who was also known as Dibautu (wheel nuts), due to his incredible stamina, nimble-footedness, artistic excellence and refined personality, despite his huge body built. Due to the extraordinary stagecraft he drew while on stage, many fans developed an intrinsic interest in traditional music.

“We attended Pule Memorial School in Gabane together and started traditional music and dance under the tutorship of Keith Pono Bafentse. I was nicknamed Lesilo, because I like to burlesque the legendary South African character Lesilo Rula mo Baswing. The rest is historical sequence.”

Rammoni said when he was attending Nare Sereto CJSS from 1996 to1998 Kedumotse put the school on the map when in 1996 they beat all the CJSS in Botswana during the annual Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) Competition. Winning the competition also made Gabane the hosting suburb popular among Batswana. Under Bafentse’s guidance, the duo formed a traditional dance troupe called Serite which was walloping other dance troupes throughout Botswana.

Kedumotse proceeded to Moeding College from 1999 to 2000 where he completed Form V. Because of his exceptional talent in music and dance, he also put Otse Village on the map under the guidance of Obusitswe Motlhageng, the then HOD Setswana at Moeding and now the School Head of Mogoditshane Senior Secondary. While at Moeding, Motlhageng allowed him and colleagues to attend regional workshops and training sessions, specializing in the playing of traditional musical instruments. Some of the Dikgagapa Dance Troupe members, such as the then leader Jumbo, joined the BDF where he is still a serving member.

At one time, Kedumotse applied to join Botswana Police, but for reasons better known to himself, left after finishing his medicals while waiting to go for police training. Instead, he worked for Mokolodi Nature Reserve and took time to learn theatre at Storms Innovation under the tutorship of Motshereganyi Sefanyetso. He later joined Mokorwana Traditional Cultural Group acting with Ra Dijo.

“In 2010, I roped him in to be one of the directors of Ngwao Letshwao, which had been in existence since 2005. However, in 2011 he left unceremoniously for SA to pursue his electrical engineering career obtained while doing vocational training at Maun Technical College from 2006 to 2008. He also participated in traditional music cultural exchanges in South Africa based on his experience with Ngwao Letshwao. Apart from telephone conversations while is South Africa, the last time we met was just before his departure in 2011.

“When I realized that he would be gone for quite a while, I looked for a replacement, Nico Patshwane, who assisted with the administration and training.

“Ever since our acquaintance in 1992, he had no medical record so his untimely death came as a shock. I still find it hard to believe that he is no more. May his soul rest in peace.”

Meanwhile, Ngwao Letshwao Performing continued in its quest to achieve cultural excellence. In 2011, it participated and took position 3 at regional level in the President’s Day Arts Competition, under the Hosanna Category but did not manage to go to the finals. In 2012, the Troupe took position 2 in the Regional Competition of President’s Day and qualified for the finals where it won position one and became the champions under Hosanna Category.

In 2012, the Troupe excelled in the Presidential Awards during Botswana’s 46th Independence Anniversary Celebrations before leaving for Brussels to celebrate and represent Botswana, courtesy of the Botswana Mission to Belgium.

At the moment Ngwao Letshwao is preparing for multicultural exchange with Australian groups and provide entertainment at the 47th Independence Anniversary Celebrations. While in Canberra, the Troupe will perform at Botswana High Commission’s 10th Anniversary. Funds permitting, 21 members of the Troupe will be leaving on September 24 and returning on October 2, to relish in the extravaganza.


Read this week's paper