Botswana and Russia have over the past week been celebrating the 45th anniversary of their diplomatic relations through song and art. An exhibition currently on display at the National Museum- and officially opened by Ambassador of Russia to Botswana Victor I.
Sibilev who was joined by acting Minister of Foreign Affairs andInternational Relations, Shaw Kgathi- traces foreign relations of the two countries. Diplomatic relations with the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) were established in 1970 following the exchange of notes between the embassy of the Soviet Union and the High Commission of Botswana in London. In 1976, Russia’s diplomatic mission was opened in Gaborone. The first Ambassador Mikhail Petrov presented his letters of credence to the founding president of Botswana, Seretse Khama in 1978.
On March 23, 2015 Mikhail Bogdanov, deputy Foreign Minister and Special Representative of President Vladimir Putin for Africa and the Middle East is expected to hold consultations with his counterpart, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations. Highlights of the exhibition vary from photographic images that illustrate the journey of the long lasting friendship. And they give the public free history lesson about the many milestones that occurred since the friendship started 45 years ago. One of the iconic images is that of Ambassador of the USSR to Botswana D.Z Belokos presenting his letters of credence to Sir Seretse Khama in Gaborone on November 1970. Other mementos include the image of then minister of Foreign Affairs, Archibald Mogwe at a meeting of permanent representatives and observers in the United Nations to adopt programmes of extending aid to Lesotho and Botswana in New York on June 1977.
Former Botswana Foreign Secretary Lebang Mpotokwane is also captured with Ambassador of Romania Lon Datsu in Gaborone in March 1978. Finally members of the Special Commission of the UN Sub - committee on Namibia are captured consulting with Botswana government representativess. Apart from the exhibition, a concert was held on Friday to celebrate the momentous occasion featuring two of Russia’s celebrated performers - Quintet of Four and Olga Nefedova. Quintet of Four plays an array of musical instruments that include the accordion, balalaika prima, bass domra and balalaika contrabass. The group played songs that include Tango poor claude by R.Gallian, Market soundtrack to the Russian film Operation Y, Hey all good women, back to home (a Russian folk song), Oh Young spirit which is their composition as well as Minor Swing by J. Reinhart. It was beautiful to hear how even though one was hearing some of the sounds from the indigenous instruments particularly the balalaika and the domra, could be transported to another place.
Quintet of Four was formed in 2009 and comprises of Eugen Petrov (accordion), Georgiy Nefedov (balalaika prima), Vladimir Kovpaev (bass domra) and Andrey Dolgov (balalaika contrabass). Back when the group was formed the quartet was second year students of National musical instruments faculty at the St Peterburg State Conservatory. “The four friends united and started working on arrangements of modern, actual music. The ensemble quickly won recognition from the public and soon filled big concert halls to concert venues of clubs and various art spaces,” says their biography.
In October, 2013 in Daugavpils (Latvia) the Quintet of Four held a master class for teachers of musical college, on the subject “Current Trends in Development of Ensemble Art in a Genre the Crossover”. The Quintet of Four closely cooperates with soloists of the opera of the Maryinsky Theater. “As a result of this cooperation anyone can enjoy traditional New Year’s concerts under Leonid Zakhozhayev’s fund and production centre.”