The up and coming local tennis star Denzel Seetso continues to rise up the international rankings after impressing at the on-going International Tennis Federation (ITF) European development tour. Seetso, who is currently seeded as number one in Africa won himself a once in a lifetime opportunity to tour Europe under the ITF Grand Slam Development fund with three other top four players from Africa.
The tour has seen Seetso playing in Italy and France where he reached the last 16. According to Botswana Tennis Federation Vice President Oaitse Thipe, Seetso is expected to be in the Netherlands this week before moving to Belgium and Germany next week. While in France, Thipe says Seetso impressed international coaches in France and played at the same stadium where the French Open and Roland Garros are held.
“Denzel won three matches in a row before losing to a Japanese player 6-4, 6-1. The Japanese player happens to be one of the best in the category,” Thipe said. Thipe further explained that the local player is giving a good account of himself, having already beaten some of the top prospects in Europe, Asia and Europe.
“Some of the players competing in this tournament are going to proceed to Junior Wimbledon where only the top 100 seeded players are entered.”Thipe said the European tour is likely to culminate in a tournament in the Czech Republic where Seetso is expected to play before returning home. Should Seetso maintain his status as number one in Africa, he will be expected to compete at a top tier tournament, the Orange Bowl and Eddie Hear in Florida, USA. Thipe further explained that Seetso has been accompanied by two coaches from Morocco and Madagascar. The other three players on tour are from Egypt, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
The recent International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Boxing Association (AIBA) scandal was bound to have implications for affiliates of the two international associations in their home countries.
After the IOC announced their decision to suspend AIBA from organising the boxing tournament at next year’s 2020 Olympic games, a task force was set up to take over the sports code during the games next year. This decision has definitely hit home this week when Botswana National Olympic Committee Chief Executive Officer Tuelo Serufho announced that they will be working hand in hand with the Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) ahead of the international showpiece. However, Serufho said BoBA will not be receiving money from the IOC.
“Instead we will be dealing directly with athletes in this regard,” Serufho said. Furthermore, Serufho said they maintain cordial relations with BoBA and the two will be working together to prepare boxers for the Tokyo Olympics despite hostile relations between IOC and BoBA. “The IOC has appointed a task force to run boxing affairs at the Olympics and this task force consists of members of technical team of the committee. “Quizzed on when the international spat between the two organisations could be resolved, Serufho said his hope is for the IOC and AIBA to make amends by the 2024 Olympic.
The BNOC consists of three boxing technical personnel including Mike Moroka, Lechedzani Luza and Oteng Oteng. Reached for comment this past week, BoBA spokesperson Taolo Tlouetsile said his organisation remains an affiliate of the BNOC. Tlouetsile further explained that AIBA failed to reach an administrative deadline with the IOC which led to the current circumstances. Among others AIBA is being accused of poor organisation and officiating at the recent Rio Olympic games.
The previous AIBA leadership was accused of having links to organised crime organisations and international drug trafficking. Meanwhile, a team of nine boxers including six men and three women is currently on camp in Thailand as part of the preparations for the All Africa Games later this year in Morocco and the Tokyo Olympics.
Every year, enthusiastic and zealous lovers of Traditional Song and dance in the annual President’s Day Celebrations dedicate a whole day to witness their favourite groups performing live on stage. Out of all the categories in the competition, this is the one category that commands a strong following. You need to have been one of the hundreds of the enthusiastic fans to truly understand what the fuss is all about.
Forty-four groups were participating in eleven categories that included Tsutsube, Diware, Seperu (chobe), and Seperu (North West), Hosana, Sebirwa, Polka, Namastap, Setapa, Phathisi, as well as Dikhwaere. Over the past years, the SSKB Auditorium has been the preferred venue for this category. For good reason of course, looking back at some of the categories such as Phathisi, Setapa, and Tsutsube, they would easily dismantle a weak stage. When a dancer from one of these categories takes to the stage, one almost feels sorry for the poor stage as it endures the constant banging from the dancers. As is customary in the competition, each year, groups bring their all to the stage.
Under the Tsutsube category, two arch rivals were facing each other. The two are Nxanxase who were the defending champions, and the Kareng based Tshetlha ya Dikgwa, formerly led by Segametsi Moxoo and previously won the competition three times, and went as far as London to showcase their craft. Nxanxase from New Xanagas led by Rebecca Hendricks were confident minutes before they took to the stage. During a chat with Hendricks prior to their performance, she was cool and collected, and told this reporter that the return of one of the groups that previously defeated them meant nothing.
“We are ready. We are just here to polish off our performance,” she said as she took a painkiller for a troubling headache. In fact, two or three of her female dancers, were also taking painkillers. Opening up the stage in the Tsutsube category was Mogoditshane based group, Sesigo, followed by Matsubatsube from Letlhakane. Rebecca’s group were third to take to the stage, and the last one was Tshetlha ya dikgwa.
What makes Tsutsube magical is that everything is precise and coordinated. Something worth noting is that everything in Tsutsube has to be done choreographically from the clapping of hands to how the men move their feet as they dance. Everything has its purpose in Tsutsube and the least that any group can do is insult the originators of this dance by adding their own modern versions. This is something that some groups have a habit of doing, and have previously been cautioned by the judges. The clapping has to produce a sound similar to a plank. The feet of the male dancers, has to stay glued to the floor, and the only sound that should be heard is their rattles while their female counterparts can raise their feet. As for the song, one needs to distinctively hear that this is a Tsutsube song without any unnecessary modification.
Taking to the stage, Nxanxase were in their element. The crown belonged to them from the onset. With lead dancers such as Tebogo Botlhole nicknamed V8, and Hendricks, the crowd was granted of a spectacular performance. And they delivered all the way. Each time that Botlhole took to the stage for a few minutes, the crowd went wild. The same effect was experienced when the group leader, Hendricks made a few appearances towards the end of the magical performance. It was just fascinating to watch her transform and bring a new kind of vibe to the stage. Last year, Hendricks had left the stage transfixed and in a different type of world. Trying to talk to her immediately after the performance, it took her a few minutes to gather herself and return to planet earth. It is this passion and dedication that saw them retaining their number one spot. Tshetlha ya dikgwa, Matsubatsube and Sesigo came second, third and fourth respectively.
Returning to the stage this year after an absence last year was none other than Dipela tsa ga kobokwe in the Phathisi category. Other groups that were participating in the category included Kala tsa kgale, Bajakhudu and Meribo Creations. This is one group that gave many groups sleepless nights over the years. And those who were missing them at the competition last year were enthusiastic and hopeful that the group would fight tooth and nail, and reclaim their top spot. Mind you this is a group that previously hugged the top spot for six long years. But their great return was not great after all.
From the minute that they took to the stage, it was evident to those who have followed the performance of the group for years that there was something amiss. The energy, coordinated formation were missing. In the previous years, when Dipela took to the stage, you could feel the energy in the room changing, and one would sit rooted to their spot. But this was a far-fetched dream from all of those years. Even with the fans screaming, and celebrating at the end of their performance, it was evident to the naked eye that the group has lost its magic.
The Phikwe based Kala tsa kgale retained the top spot, winning this category for the second time in a row. The Molepolole former national champions came second, followed by Meribo Creations and Bajakhudu.
Other reigning champions include Mwathiyacthicho (Diware), and Chankonchanko (Seperu-Chobe). Other winners for the night included Tiwazani (Seperu- North West), Tjelenge Tjengwao (Hosana), Tsa mmala cultural group (Sebirwa), Remmogo (Polka), Isiqwaqwa (setapa) and Lesedi Choir (Dikhwaere).
Established in 2006, Dikakapa is one of the household names that made traditional music popular. The group sprung into the music scene at a time when there were a few traditional music groups, making real music for their followers. The group was made up of members that include Moagi Jumbo Lekoni, Billy Dragon Kgwadi, Comeback Hendrick, Gong master, Esalone Montshiwa, as well as Alphons Tshumo Koontse.
At its prime, the group was making waves both locally and outside the country. They even bagged a Kora nomination with their album Selempu in 2009 and went on to perform in South Africa during the 2010 World cup. But for a number of years, the group has been missing from the music scene. News have surfaced that the group is back together and are planning a massive revival that will breath life into the traditional music scene that has been dry for a few years now.
This past Monday, the group performed at the Kokotsha Horse racing event. Speaking in an interview, Lekoni explains that they were back and were working on a massive revival of the group. He explains that all members including Gongmaster born Ketshabile Mponang were on the same page. Gongmaster left the group to pursue a solo career, but is now looking forward to going back to his roots.
“This is something that he has been longing for,” he explains. Lekoni explains that for the reunion they wanted all members to be on board, and on the same page which is something that is happening right now. He further says that they are working on something that will win the hearts of Batswana after winter.
“Before the end of the year, we will release a brand new single,” he says adding that this is a revival of traditional music. He also explains that they are planning to fuse other traditional dance styles such as Seperu in their performances.
On Sunday, avid lovers of Traditional song and dance category in the annual President’s Day Celebration competition packed the SSKB auditorium to the rafters, to revel at their favourite groups, live on stage.
Taking to the stage in the late afternoon, was one category that was making its maiden appearance at the competition, the NamaStap. Four groups, namely, !Hunikam (Tsabong), !Kharakhoin (Lokgwabe), Khowesen (Ghanzi) as well as Our Originality (Hukuntsi) were making history as the first groups to compete in this category since the competition was established in 2008. All eyes were on them. A good majority of the audience were experiencing Namastap for the first time.
Scurrying on to the stage, and adorning colourful outfits, it was a memorable experience to see group after group showcasing this beautiful dance. Although, some felt that the groups lacked a bit of good energy, coordinated footwork, and accurate rhythm, the four groups truly gave the audience a piece of what Namastap is all about. In a year or two, they will really blossom and grow with the competition.
Namastap is a dance synonymous with the Nama people. Those who are better informed about this dance explain that it is usually danced during ceremonies such as weddings. When it comes to attire, the only thing that differentiates the groups were the hats, which differed in colours to showcase the different clans that are found in Botswana.
Currently, there are nine clans in Botswana that include /howesen, !Gomi #nuu, Gai, //Kuau, //aixa, //aes with a common factor of one language. History has it that the Nama people in Botswana have their roots in Namibia where they migrated as they ran away from the German war.
The Lokgwabe group, !Kharakhoin were declared the winners of this category. Formed in 2014, for years, the group has been competing under the Polka category, which obscured their dance. Led by William Cloete, the group comprises of 15 members, mostly youth. Prior to taking to the stage, Cloete troupe promised him that they will grant him the best birthday present by winning. And indeed, they stayed true to their promise. Giving a brief about some of the characteristics of Namastap, Cloete tells this publication that the male dancer always leads the female. He explains that back in the day, that is where some dancers found love. He also explains that the dance has different tempos and vibe. “We can do the fast or slow rhythm,” he explains. His group is one of the groups that grace the annual Nama Cultural Festival that takes place in Lokgwabe.
In an interview, Meshack Cooper, who is the group leader of Khowesen explains that they also dance when a young girl celebrates her right of passage at the end of her menstrual period. Cooper highlights that it is a good development to see their dance being recognised and standing on its own. “This is only the beginning of great things to come,” he says.
Same sentiments were shared by Nichodimas Cooper, one of the organisers of the Nama Cultural Festival. “We appreciate the authority for recognising our dance,” he says, adding that being grouped under Polka was not doing any justice to their culture. He explains that the development comes at a time when they are preparing for the fourth annual Nama Cultural Festival pencilled to take place on August 30 & 31 in Lokgwabe.
The Nama people from different parts of the country including Hukuntsi, Tsabong, Bokspits, and Ghanzi, and others from South Africa and Namibia are expected to grace the event. The event seeks to showcase the culture and language of the Nama people and is sponsored by companies that include Mckag Transport, Ponelo Wealth, Entabeni Guest House, as well as the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport & Culture Development.
Located in the North-West District, Botswana lies over 20 000 square kilometer land allocated to 54 commercial farmers who produce sorghum and beans to contribute to food security in the country.
A team of journalists and National Development Bank (NDB), the major financiers of the commercial farmers toured the farms last week. The bank has spent over P500 million financing farmers every year and last year P80 million was spent on Pandamatenga farmers alone. We arrived at 8pm in Panda Rest Camp; the place is amazingly beautiful with 16 Tswana traditional huts and an outdoor conference facility, (Leobo in Setswana), well placed to suit the lifestyle of people in the area. Early morning we started the tour of the farms.
Our first encounter was with the oldest farmer in the area, Mr Ian Cumming, who arrived in Pandamatenga in 1984. He started with bailing grass for the government and after two years he applied for a plot, which he was allocated in 1986. In 1989 he produced 5000 tonnes of sorghum. Currently, he has a 500 hectares plot in which he ploughs sorghum and 505 hectares in which he ploughs beans which are currently exports to China.
Through the assistance of NDB, commercial farmers in Pandamatenga have been able to grow from year to year; producing food to feed the nation, 80 percent of sorghum and beans sold at the Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) is produced in the area. However, most farmers complain about the insufficient rainfalls, which have hugely affected their produce this year. Cumming said farming is an exciting yet a highly challenging business, “Farming is my passion and I have been doing it for more than 30 years in Botswana.
I have had a lot of challenges especially with these weather conditions of Botswana but I am so dedicated and committed. I am so passionate about food production. We are able to produce sorghum and beans and supply to BAMB,” he said.
We met another farmer, Hermann Venter, a South African who is also Chairman of Pandamatenga Farmers Association. He was allocated 1000 hectares a farm in 2011.
“I have spent all my life as a farmer in South Africa, it is our family business. My father, my brother and I are farmers. I came to Botswana in 2009 searching for a new environment and I started ploughing here three years ago,” said Venter.
Talking to Botswana Guardian, Venter said it is always a wise decision for the farmers to prepare the field well immediately after harvest without waiting for the next ploughing season.
“After harvest, I remove the crop remains, clear the field and rip the soil to preserve the moisture. Ripping is very important because we never know when the next rainfall will come, but when you have ripped, preserved moisture will reduce the effect of heat on seedlings,” said Venter.
The third farm, Eastfort Holdings made the journalist’s work more interesting and lovely. We found the young gentlemen by the name Adrian in the field, driving the combined harvester machine. With my curiosity, I decided to experience his work and rode the machine with him. It was a 1000-hectare field of sorghum.
The machine makes harvesting easier, less time consuming and not labour intensive as it cuts the grain heads and automatically removes grains from the heads. Adrian told Botswana Guardian that it takes less than two weeks to complete harvesting sorghum from this 1000-hectare field. In 30 minutes it produces 7 tonnes of sorghum. The activity was awesome and one would enjoy doing except for one aspect, the sorghum dust, which was really itchy.