Donald Molosi, Botswana’s award-winning Broadway performer, Hollywood writer and actor has partnered with the Botswana National Museum this December and January to create awareness about HIV/AIDS.
As part of this campaign, Molosi will be launching a two-month long everyday screening of ‘Born in Africa’ a documentary about Philly Bongole Lutaaya, the first prominent African to publicly declare that he had HIV/AIDS in 1988. The premiere of this piece that has been screened internationally is on December 18 at the Little Theatre. He is organising the event alongside Integrate PR, a Gaborone-based PR and event company.
Molosi said the collaboration is part of his contribution to the nation’s war against HIV/AIDS. He has decided on using entertainment to highlight how the nation can best support those who are affected by the scourge. Molosi, 28, is the first Motswana actor to perform on Broadway about a decade ago when he first won the Best Actor for his portrayal of Sir Seretse Khama in Blue, Black and White. He was honoured on Broadway, New York last month for his contribution of African stories to the Broadway theatre. ‘Born in Africa,’ is a documentary about the life and legacy of Philly Bongole Lutaaya, Uganda’s most popular musician of the 1980’s. Lutaaya was the first prominent African to declare that he was HIV positive and launched a crusade against AIDS where he put his body on display for the public to appreciate the severity of AIDS.
The result of his campaign was a sharp decline in HIV infection rates in Uganda especially since he used his music performances to sensitise the public about HIV. “This two-month screening will be followed by other free public events that will be around the same theme of Life Beyond HIV. It is a campaign I feel passionate about and I am doing this in consultation with Philly Lutaaya’s family and children to ensure that we are compliant with ethics of sharing a story about a real person,” says Molosi. Lutaaya is fondly remembered in Uganda and the world both for his contributions to ethnomusicology and for his formidable AIDS efforts. This is not Molosi’s first contact with the story of Lutaaya.
In 2009, Molosi wrote a play about Lutaaya called Today It’s Me, named after Lutaaya’s most popular song. Molosi performed it as a one-man show on Broadway in 2010 to great acclaim. The play won Molosi the Robert Potter Playwriting Award (2010) in California and Best Solo Award (2011) in New York. “This project is an opportunity for me to take the heart of my art from the stage and to the people through a different format. As actors, I really believe our job is to keep holding up the mirror to our host societies,” Molosi explained. “The screening of this 1990 documentary about Lutaaya offers an alternative way of engaging with HIV/AIDS where we are not only precautionary but we also show that life does not stop with contracting the virus.
That was Lutaaya’s biggest message. I am elated that Integrate PR and The National Museum have created an opportunity for me to share Lutaaya’s story with Batswana through this documentary. It is all about giving hope in times when we are still leading with our infection rates as a country,” he says. “Lutaaya wanted us to take on AIDS activism whether we are infected or not,” he adds.