The recently released, Dear Upright African manifesto has clinched its first international accolade. The book authored by Botswana’s award winning actor, producer and author Donald Molosi will this July be bestowed with an African Authors Award.
MOLOSI IS THE FIRST MOTSWANA TO WIN THE AWARD
The 2019 edition of the ceremony is pencilled to take place at the end of July in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg. News about the award come a month after the worldwide release of Molosi’s manifesto Dear Upright African. Confirming the news on social media, spokesperson for Africa Writers’ Awards, Anthea Ambursley wrote that, “the African Authors Awards 2019 cannot wait to host and honour Molosi in July 2019.”
Molosi has been in Kenya for the last month on a pre-release promotion tour which included Molosi’s several meetings with celebrated Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o ahead of the release of the book.
Dear Upright African bears a powerful foreword by acclaimed Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga, author of Nervous Conditions. Molosi previously won many awards for his first book, We Are All Blue which is currently being taught at universities around the world. He first shot to stardom with his Broadway debut in New York in 2007 and his film role opposite Matt Damon in the same year.
He has since starred in A United Kingdom opposite Academy-Award nominee Rosamund Pike. Molosi’s next acting role is in the British film called 2064 set for release this year. In a statement regarding his upcoming honour, Molosi says in a statement, “I am humbled and emboldened at once. I wrote Dear Upright African to be part of the change I desire as a self-loving decolonized Pan-African.
So, I am elated that this conversation will now involve many more key voices, thanks to the African Authors Awards 2019.” The African Authors Awards are an annual award ceremony held in Johannesburg. At the ceremony, authors from all over Africa are honoured and given awards by fellow African literati.
“I dedicate this specific honour to the memory of Dr. Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete who sought to decolonize the African classroom in as early as 1930 and built schools to that effect all over Africa. May we have the decolonized foresight to continue where we stopped, as a continent!” Molosi said about the honour. In Dear Upright African, which was released in February 28, 2019 in New York City, Molosi shares his experiences attending school in Africa and calls for the decolonization of the African classroom.
Dreamcoat Productions, a British film production company behind South African actress Terry Pheto’s much-anticipated British film called Faces (2018), has officially invited Motswana actor Donald Molosi to attend the world premiere of Faces in Durban next month.
Dreamcoat Productions intends to use events around the premiere of Faces to finalise details about their next yet-untitled film, which will feature Molosi alongside heavyweights of both Hollywood and British cinema.
In an open letter addressed to Molosi, the Director of Faces, Joseph Adesunloye writes that Molosi’s presence at the premiere will “enable Dreamcoat Productions to hold private talks between the Director, Molosi and key global film players” about the yet-untitled film.
It is understood that Molosi is already on board the yet-untitled film as co-star and is now lobbying for the international film to include Botswana as one of its filming locations. These talks in Durban therefore will give Molosi the last shot at swaying the decision in favor of Botswana as the set of his next international film.
Whether Botswana is selected as the location or not, one thing is for certain: Molosi’s role in the yet-untitled film will mark the first time that a Motswana actor has a prominent role in a mainstream British film. Molosi most recently appeared in A United Kingdom (2017) opposite Academy Award nominee Rosamund Pike and Emmy nominee David Oyelowo. Molosi has won numerous acting and writing awards off-Broadway over the past decade most notably for his magnum opus Blue, Black and White which this year marks its 10th anniversary on the off-Broadway circuit in New York City.
In honor of its South African lead actress, the world premiere of Faces next month will be held at the Durban International Film Festival. Molosi is expected to attend with a small delegation of Botswana creatives.
On May 25th, when the rest of the continent celebrates Africa Day, Botswana and DStv customers will witness history-in-the-making as Zambezi Magic (DStv Channel 160) premieres locally produced Botswana documentary film, “We Are All Blue.” It will be the first time Zambezi Magic, a channel that is dedicated to telling stories from Southern Africa airs a locally produced documentary film since its first broadcast in 2015.
“Written and starring award-winning Broadway and Hollywood actor, Donald Molosi (30), and produced by local production company, Torch Studios, “We Are All Blue” was commissioned by M-Net and MultiChoice Africa in celebration of Botswana’s 50th Anniversary of Independence.
This past Easter Sunday, April 16, award-winning Broadway and Hollywood actor Donald Molosi, 30, debuted the trailer of his latest project online, a documentary film project called ‘We Are All Blue.” The trailer, which is also on YouTube is fast circulating around the world garnering praise from Batswana and Molosi’s own Hollywood colleagues alike.
In 'We Are All Blue' (2017), modern Botswana is seen through the eyes of Donald Molosi, a Botswana-born Broadway actor and playwright, who embarks on a journey to discover more about himself, his people and Botswana, the country he calls home. He believes that in order to create your future, you need to understand your past – and this is what he sets out to do.
“With this film I aim to cinematically capture Botswana’s soul and spirit. The camera follows me to my home village of Mahalapye and my ancestral village of Serowe, and along the way I encounter elders who impart to me wisdom like former President Sir Ketumile Masire whom I am honored to feature and personally thank in this film,” Molosi says from Johannesburg where he is currently in meetings with media houses that have shown interest in his latest offering.
Thus, in the documentary Molosi explores some fundamental life questions about identity and belonging, about being a Motswana, and about the contradictions inherent in the country he loves. Towards the end of the ﬁlm Molosi reﬂects on how far Botswana has come in the 50 years since independence, but also on how far it still has to go – and what needs to be done to regain and maintain Botswana’s reputation as Africa’s success story.
“I am grateful that I got to partner with Multichoice, Torch Studio Films and Hambrook Films on this project. I wrote 19 versions of the script, with different storylines and endings et cetera before I picked which script to go with. I put my all into this film and so did my whole team,” says Molosi.
The film features Molosi’s conversations with other notable Batswana including Former Deputy Secretary-General Mrs. Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba; Kgosikgolo of Batawana Kgosi Tawana Moremi II; and Former President of Botswana, Sir Ketumile Masire.
Donald Molosi made history ten years ago when he became the first Motswana actor to perform on Broadway. Over the past decade, Molosi has scooped many major awards on Broadway and off-Broadway for his acting and writing, prompting the New York Times to call his award-winning performances “inflamed with passion.” Molosi’s critically-acclaimed plays are taught around the world as part of the school curriculum in various countries including the United States.
Molosi currently divides his time between Botswana, US and UK working as an actor, writer and film producer.
Award-winning actor and playwright Donald Molosi’s Folk Tale Theatre Company is fast becoming one of the most sought-after theatre companies and theatre consultancies.
In 2015, the company memorably staged its inaugural performance at GICC, a tailor-made theatrical production about Botswana Life’s contributions to Botswana over the past 40 years. The company also powered Molosi’s international tour late last year. Folk Tale was profiled by CNN last year for excellence in using professional theatre to tell African stories that inspire and entertain.
On April 13th and 15th, 2016 Folk Tale takes its portfolio to a whole new different level with a new play called ‘Elements’ for the annual Maitisong Festival. The play marks Molosi’s directorial debut and it will star Zanele Tumelo, Teto Mokaila, Moduduetso Lecoge and Molosi himself. “Elements was written by my friend John Sibi-Okumu whom many know for his acting roles in such Hollywood films as ‘The Constant Gardener’ and ‘The First Grader.’ I always admired his work so it is my honour to bring his work to life for a Botswana audience,” Molosi says.“It is my directorial debut and I am excited for people to see what I have done with the story as director,” he adds.He notes in a press release that everyone can relate to the struggle of being an individual in a world that is constantly trying to force everyone to be the same.
That is what the play talks about, he notes. In this play the release states, Folk Tale is consciously celebrating all those who have been called ‘misfits,’ ‘anomalies,’ ‘different,’ ‘weird’ and so on.
“We are honouring all who have been bullied and insulted for being different. As a nation, we celebrate only the people who satisfy society’s expectations, but what about people who don’t?” The release explains that ‘Elements’ tells the story of a young woman called Dana who is of mixed-race and has lived all over the world and how she negotiates the notion of belonging. According to Molosi, Folk Tale Theatre Company wants to use this play to discuss the issue of belonging and whether one should care about belonging. There are many people, young and old struggling with what it means to belong says Molosi. “With this piece, we are saying that it is okay not to belong. It is okay to be an individual. It is okay to not fit in.
Those who come to see the piece will hopefully experience a healing of sorts for themselves as well,” says Molosi. With Elements, Folk Tale is going for a more intimate audience experience. The play will be staged in a small black-box theatre unlike Molosi’s usual shows which are usually in large theatres. Molosi explains, “One of the things I enjoyed most when I first performed off-Broadway about a decade ago was the intimacy of the performance space. I could perform very close to the audience, about a metre away and audiences loved that.
That is what you will see in Elements that we are performing close to the audience so that they are not alienated from the action onstage. It is looking very good in rehearsal and in this play, Zanele Tumelo and Teto Mokaila give some of the best performances you will see in Botswana all year,” he cautions. “I advise people to get tickets early because performing in an intimate space means that there are fewer tickets to sell. We are proud to be staging this with encouragement from the Kenyan High Commission here in Gaborone,” says the talented Molosi. Tickets for ‘Elements’ are on sale for P100 at Maitisong Theatre, Maru a Pula School. Folk Tale Theatre Company is on Facebook and its twitter and Instagram handle is @folktaleTC.
When the former president of your country pens the foreword to your book, you know you’ve written something special.
Donald Molosi’s We Are All Blue is that unique volume – the first time in Botswana’s history that drama moves from the stage to print. We Are All Blue is a collection of two award - winning plays –Blue, Black and White and Motswana: Africa, Dream Again by the renowned actor and playwright. Quett Masire, the former president of Botswana contributes a celebratory introduction.
A press release from his New York based publishing company explains that auspiciously, We Are All Blue is released at the same time Botswana celebrates 50 years of independence.
This year, according to the release, also sees the debut of the film A United Kingdom, which stars David Oyelowo (from the movie Selma) and Rosamund Pike (from the movie Gone Girl) and is based on courageous interracial marriage between Botswana’s first president, Sir Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams. “Because his exceptional play Blue, Black and White also centers on the marriage, Molosi is featured in the film (which is already generating awards buzz),” the release points out.
The release further says that with the release of We Are All Blue, critic Lebogang Disele writes “Reclaiming Our Story,” an accompanying essay on the significance of Molosi’s work in helping rewrite Botswana’s history.
“The Mantle is proud to offer We Are All Blue in print and ebook forms (details below) with special features including Masire’s foreword, a glossary of terms, and additional notes. Blue, Black and White and Motswana: Africa, Dream Again are also offered separately in print and ebook versions,” notes the press release.
Blue, Black and White (2011), the longest running one-man show in Botswana’s history, was the first-ever Botswana play staged off-Broadway in New York City, where Molosi won a best actor award. BBW is about the country’s first democratically-elected president, Sir Seretse Khama, and his interracial, transformative marriage. Winner of several awards, the play has been performed around the world.
Motswana: Africa, Dream Again is the story of Botswana and its people as they transition from a British protectorate to an independent state. The play premiered off-Broadway in 2012 where it won an award at the United Solo Festival, the world’s largest solo theatre festival. Written, directed, and performed by Molosi, the play has been performed across the U.S. and is on tour in Botswana and South Africa.
About the Books
We Are All Blue
paperback (111 pages, $14.95) and Kindle ($7.49)
drama | African history | historical narrative
5.5” x 8.5”
Blue, Black and White
paperback (71 pages, $8.95) and Kindle ($3.49)
drama | African history | historical narrative
5.5” x 8.5”
Motswana: Africa, Dream Again
paperback (31 pages, $8.95) and Kindle ($3.49)
drama | African history | historical narrative
5.5” x 8.5”
African Voices, a show that tells the stories of Africa and is produced for CNN, is currently in Botswana. On August 12th, the producers of the show will be recording something big and exciting in Gaborone that is, the story of Folk Tale Theatre Company. If you are yet to hear about this company, here is what you need to know about it.
The company has seen three talented young members - Donald Molosi, Teto Mokaila and Zanele Tumelo - coming together. The three are passionate actors and their marriage is one that has been ordained by the gods. One of the mandates of the company is to foster new relationships between Broadway and the local theatre industry. Through their company they are setting their sights on bringing Broadway to the country, while at the same time performers from here can also venture into Broadway. It will be the first time that members of the company are interviewed together. And being given an opportunity to tell their story on such a big platform only means that good things are heading their way, especially as the eyes of the world would be on them.
The interviews will be conducted at locations that include the National Museum, Three Chiefs Monument as well as the Sir Seretse Khama statue in front of the parliament buildings. Folk Tale Theatre Company is one of a kind and intends to tell the stories of Africa to the world particularly focusing on the untold stories such as that of Phillip Lutaaya, and other stories that have been overlooked. The works according to Molosi, who is the Artistic Director of the Company, are based on history. It will be one of the few companies that take the works of the continent, explore them and tell them to a bigger audience outside the continent.
“We are talking about having some of those who are passionate about theatre, and sponsoring them to shadow established actors in Broadway for two months or so. And dreams like that can only become reality if we have support from everyone,” he says. The company will be launched sometimes this year, and they have worked together on a play that told the story of Uganda’s most famous artist, Lutaaya. Their combination and chemistry gave those who watched them live on stage a sneak peek into what they can expect from their future works. Folk Tale Theatre Company is not the only company that will be interviewed for African Voices, as there are two or three other performers who have been lined up for interviews from Botswana. In the past the first citizen of Botswana Ian Khama, former Judge Unity Dow as well as local Rock groups have been featured in the show.
Meanwhile, a social media campaign dubbed 35 years on: Remembering Sir Seretse Khama is still ongoing. It was launched recently at Tiger Kloof Educational Institution in Vryburg. As part of the campaign, in partnership with Duma FM he recorded some of Seretse’s speeches. He has also partnered with local designer, Bonosi Mbaakanyi in the project who has designed some shirts with the face of the first president of the country, and they are worn wherever he goes to promote the campaign. Meanwhile, he is busy working on something that will take one of his works, Black, Blue & White to extraordinary heights.