One of the most common Setswana traditional practices that form the core of Setswana value systems dictates that when someone takes off on a lengthy excursion, you give them mofago (any form of provision that meets certain demands of the journey). But that was not the case when the Re-Batswana Music Ensemble (RBME) said their goodbyes on Saturday, 17 September. Instead it was the group that gave their loyal fans and invited guests much more than they could ever ask for as they hosted a magnificent farewell concert at Masa Square Hotel Saturday night.
After being snubbed by the organisers of the Independence Day celebrations RBME demonstrated just what the rest of unfortunate Batswana will be missing out on this independence holidays.
Jazz artists Lister Boleseng, Ndingo Johwa, Nnunu Ramogotsi , and Lekofi Sejose performed a medley of their most popular songs alongside Andrew Chinganga (sax) ,Kopano Mantswe (percussions) , Sakkie Nonong (bass guitar), and Chedza Majwabe as a back-up singer. The intimate setting and lighting also made for a truly majestic experience. Kopano Mantswe had promised a show not to forget at a preceding press briefing, and unforgettable it is. Following their scheduled performance the group performed music as requested by the audience who had to pay for each request. Nnunu and her life partner impressed with what seemed like a well-rehearsed duet, performing her song Mmasonoko. Johwaand Boleseng also had to do encores, performing Pa Nkaka and KeSwa Hela respectively. Another surprise performance of the night was when Tomeletso Sereetsi (Sereetsi & the Natives) was called on to perform Robete. His excuse about not having his guitar with him did not get him off the hook as RBME had his back. The group has undoubtedly given their Saturday audience a memorable early independence present.
RBME is a colourful, spirited showcase of traditional, folk, Afro Jazz and modern music of Botswana presented in an enchanting musical.
Audiences are transported firstly to ancient Tswana times through Accapella traditional songs, accompanied by clapping and dance, culminating in present day contemporary compositions that honour culturally inspired rhythms and expressions.
The origin of this music and cultural exchange tour program began in 2011 when the Producer, Soares Katumbela (Streethorn Director), recognised the need and value in promoting local musicians abroad.
Last year (2015) the band completed a successful tour of Sweden and Switzerland where they represented Batswana music and culture.
The success of this tour has awarded the group another opportunity in China, Sweden and Germany where they are booked to perform during the celebration of the Botswana’s 50th Independence Day.
As they prepared for the tour RBME were engaged in a number of performances aimed at building momentum, sharing their journey with locals and raising funds for their mission.
Among these performances were the Gaborone International Music and Cultural Week (GIMC) on the 27th August, and Dr. Kim’s Memorial Charity golf tournament in Selebi Phikwe on the 30th July 2016. They are sponsored by Botswana Craft, Timber Trading, Soundbass, Rosens Media, Masa Square Hotel, Upplands Vasby Kommun, Brand Botswana, and Botswana Embassies in China and Germany. They were scheduled to leave on Tuesday (yesterday), September 20 and to return on October 5th, almost a week after Botswana Independence Day.