Like everybody else, Enoch Keerate is nostalgic about his youth. But unlike everybody else, he has the artistic ability to recreate his past with an eight-track album that he titled “Japi Lingo with Mena Err.”
While the album evokes yearning for a vanished time, it also nods fitfully to the present.
“The album was meant to have a little bit of everything that we have listened to from the mid-seventies to date. It will hopefully appeal to people of all ages as it also covers a reasonable range of music genres. Everyone will be reminded of something they heard somewhere at some time although they may not quite remember where,” says Keerate.
For him personally, Keerate will be reminded of his youth in Tonota when he played for a three-piece band called Breakthrough. When it disbanded, he went back home to Serowe and at the invitation of the late Creza Lefatshe, joined Imagine in Gaborone.
“I played bass not out of choice but because at that time they didn’t have a bass player. After some time, Imagine got a bassist and I moved to second guitar with Creza as the lead guitarist. Members of the band at that time included, among others, the likes of Malombo Mmereki, Oupa, Kabo Kgabo, Carly Sebolao and Magic Ditau. That was just after the late Tsilo Baitsile left the band to join the army,” he says.
Around this time there was also another band in town called In-crowds and when it disbanded, former members Lekofi Sejeso and Banjo Mosele joined Imagine. The party stopped when the nightclub deejay entered the scene and taking stock of the situation, Keerate went back to school to train as a teacher. In 2007, he joined the Department of Vocational Education and Training where he currently works. However, the transition to a day job never dampened his love for music because all the time he kept his guitar by his side. And all the time he was angling for an opportunity to dispel the myth that Serowe musicians don’t have much to offer. As he states on the album sleeve, he was the “the first artist to play Selina on guitar and all the other artists who recorded it before me heard it from me, including the South African saxophone maestro, Steve Dyer.”
For Japi Lingo with Mena Err, Keerate assembled a group of old hands like himself: Oral Mokgadi on guitar and vocals, Brian Khuzwayo on bass guitar, keyboards and vocals; Andrew Chinganga on tenor sax, soprano and flute, Blessing Godzi on keyboards and Enock Mbewe on drums. The album was launched this past Saturday at the Millennium Jazz Bar in Mogoditshane.