Making their first appearance in the traditional music scenery about three years ago, Matlotla traditional group released their debut and only album then. Despite challenges, Matlotla proved their mettle being one of the country’s finest traditional music acts, Mmegi correspondent TUMELO MOUWANE writes
Abel Sename, born 28 years ago in Mmathubudukwane village, is the brain behind a group that has experienced great success. Matlotla released their first album titled Lefukufuku in 2014, an album which two years later was nominated as one of the best traditional music writings in the country.
The seven-track album consists of content aiming at addressing societal ills. This is done through songs such as Kamponwane which advises married women to respect themselves. Apart from competing against the likes of Ditiro Leero and Mmaratwa in best traditional music group in 2016 Botswana Music Union (BOMU) awards, the Lobatse based group has been featured in the South African traditional music show, The ROOTS, aired on Sundays on South African channel SABC 1.
Furthermore, they were featured in South African heritage day which was held on September 24, 2016.
Their tracks are being aired in SABC television channels and across different radio stations in South Africa up-to-date. Perhaps the reason why they managed to compete for best traditional music album against giants at the BOMU awards. The founder of the group, Sename said it was not easy to establish himself as a brand working alone amid overwhelming challenges.
“Matlotla is a solo project that started trading in 2014. The name ‘Matlotla’ derives its essence from the fact that we are a youthful traditional group with the intent of holding on to our culture amid westernisation challenges. Matlotla are old houses, and we want to remain like that; we want to remain relevant to culture. My passion in traditional music dates back to my high school days when I was in the school traditional dance group and later becoming a coach. Establishing yourself in this industry, especially when you work alone is not an easy job. Apart from opposition from mediocre minds, I faced many rejections before I released my debut album
“Lefukufuku, which is my debut album is a message based on writing. It reminds people that they should remain respecting their culture despite the dominance of western culture in today’s society. The album has taken me to greater heights than I could have ever expected. It was my first album but it has won me airtime on SABC’s. It has taken me to the best traditional music category at the BOMUs and that in itself is a great achievement,” Sename said.
He further said just like many other acts who are not yet well established, challenges are always prevalent but one can thrive if they have the right amount of willingness to work towards their goals.
“Challenges which I faced when I started this project are common challenges such as lack of proper business running structures which can take care of marketing, payments and other stuff. My main role is supposed to be on stage and performing and not multi-tasking. That alone is a common challenge in the local music,” Sename said.
Apart from traditional song and dance, Sename is also well established in the poetry scenery. He said he has kept a clean record of top positions in constituency competitions throughout.
“I never knew I am a poet until in 2001 when one of my teachers encouraged me to do poetry because he saw the potential in me. I did poetry and I did not stop. I have a very good track record of top positions in regional constituency competitions as well as at the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development,” he said.
He further added: “I come a long back loving Gong Master’s music. His approach to the traditional music industry is also encouraging and I have always wanted to see myself having achieved even more than what he has achieved,” Sename said.