Mmegi Online :: Requiem to the genius - maetros of our time
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Tuesday 23 October 2018, 15:21 pm.
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Requiem to the genius - maetros of our time

In this moving tribute GOMOLEMO MOTSWALEDI mourns and celebrates the recent fallen heroes of our cultural and political space, Chamza, Stampore and Tsilo
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Mmegi Online :: Requiem to the genius - maetros of our time








I have been so obstinately associated with politics that I as well visit inadequate regard to the fact that music makes the better of me. Four of Botswana's human monuments have hitherto passed on recently and I thank those who aired their prayers and eulogies publicly to punctuate the wonderful lives of these heroes. Just at the end of 2012 Golo Rampholo 'Chamza' Molefhe met his demise and was peacefully laid to rest. A legend, a thinker, social prophet of our time, a man who enjoyed a ride outside the box and a mortal who refused to be under the spell of our moment that has sucked men and women in to fear, non engagement, survivalism, false consciousness and obsequiousness.  A man whose thoughts about the country, its people and collective destiny was as mighty as the sword that his pen was.

His music and concept of the arts and national culture in general mirrored the broadness of his imagination and intellect.  A versatile, adaptive, compelling and convivial man he was.  Much as he was a mortal, I should hasten to note that he was not an ordinary one. For those who wanted to understand him, my advice had always been, savour the parts you do understand, for men like him live to demonstrate the profundity of human kind at least and at most, the gravity of the one in whose image human kind is said to be created. 

Friends of mine from the left, credibly suggest that Chamza's life epitomised class suicide because he was born in a family that was well measured, top of middle class and providing a citadel for his advance into anything higher he could choose, especially given his apparalled intellectual ability.  On the contrary, he chose a life that saw him promote labour, cultural and artistic workers' rights, journalism and advocacy for the poor. 

I honoured and respected Chamza in all that he was, learnt from him and was always flattered by his kindness to me.

May his soul rest in peace.
Only weeks later did we hear about Mokha Stampore Malefho, a Mokwena man of a very unassuming character. Stampore was a genius with his finger art on his legendary four-stringed guitar that is the music centre of sound streams that by far surpass what four strings would do on an ordinary measure.

This is one man who found a virgin space where musicologists and ethnomusicologists are yet to reveal the wonder of his musical works.  Much as he was laid back, he enjoyed his mastery stature and knew his worth and artistic equity.  The erratic economic situation he lived in where he was a middle income man for a weekend and the week following and a poor man until the next show, did not make him lose sense of his true worth.  He knew he was the only surviving artist of his wits and genius on the four-stringed guitar. 

He made his music, arranged some and presented with expert mastery. This was a man who did not take kindly to taking a bow of honour to an audience after an engulfing rendition to appreciate their applause.  In his profound world, he was to entertain, they were to applaud.  The wisdom in his talk, his understading of the world and things, his acute judgement and his laid back demeanor made him a special gift this country has to continualy celebrate.  His role in the Mma Ramotswe fame, performing his epic number 'Re Batswana' will leave an indelible mark of pride and honour on the map of the world.  His soul should surely rest in peace.

I buried Tshepo Totetsi two weeks ago. Totetsi's nerves and body systems are made out of the stuff music and electricity are made out of - this imperceptible potential and latent energy that explodes in great power.  His understanding of the world of music far beyond the advertist hymnody he grew up within was amazing.  I am of advertist parantage and I am proud of it and have all respect for my father and late mother's brethens but mention has to be made that their exclusive style has actually made it difficult for the real might of the genuis the Tshepo was to be exposed, revealed and manifetly felt by the population, not that it was necessary. 

The groups he inspired at a time when what was at the core of the Adventist brand in the 70s and 80s was its music, bear testimony to the centrality of his role in the Adventist church.  He has wriiten, arranged and taught music; he has mentored men and women in the art of singing, reading and playing music; he has serenaded kings, presidents, leaders in the Christian faith, families and churches with his music and his prestine baritone

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alongside faithfuls in the groups he led.   He was a gifted and soulful thinker, analyst and citadel of knowledge and information from a myriad of disciplines - a man with a fertile sense of imagination.  He was a very big, innovative, dreaming man in a very small, ailing, thoughtless and desolate world, a dichotomy he was unable to resolve until be breathed his last. He was versatile and at isolated moments kept a dangerous balance between the sacred and the sacrilegious, of course not to the amusement of fellow Adventists.

Sharing the few moments we did, the chats and thoughts was momentous for me because I knew that I shared the exclusive company of one of the very best gifts of our time, of course unbeknown to so very many who should have known. His soul should definitely rest in peace.During Totetsi's funeral, the gifted director of ceremonies and a man who takes his task with a flair of grandiozo, Alexander Yalala, told the crowd that in one of my conferences with him, I had admitted that in my own, personal and of course limited view, there are two people at the pinnacle of a very gifted kraal of musical geniuses I got the occasion to meet. At that ocassion he elected to mention Totetsi as he was relevant for the ocassion and also elected not to mention the other one. This was Tsilo Baitsile.

While I was at Swaneng Hill School, the Botswana Defence Force brass band came to the July Agricultural Show, a young light in complexion enthusiatic and flaboyant director of the brass band captured my youthful musical attention.  That year, I did not enjoy the sight of agricultural products, showcases, the famous puppet show, the traditional food as was customary. 

I was next to the podium, where the band sat.  It was less for the members of the band and their great music but more for the director and maestro. In the afternoon, this conductor had passed on the baton to some taller older looking and dark in complexion gentlemen as the real maestro had moved to the drum section and was enjoying himself there.  He was the only person who seemed to have arrogated himself a sense of freedom while the rest were soldierly and orderly in their demeanor. Only much later did I come to learn that this was Tsilo Baitsile.  The mentor of the excellent talents we have enjoyed over time and continute to, the teacher of music theory in the barracks and true maestro, the strength behind the musical bands of our army and many outside the barracks. 

He later was a scholar in music teaching in tertiary institutions while mentoring other masters and begginers in the wider music industry. Together with another legend John Selolwane were artistic producers of the SADC song where I was the executive producer.  They were with maestros and legends such as Lekofi Sejeso, Alexander Moruakgomo and Anyu.  We were in committees on the development of a music syllabus for secondary education in Botswana together with Bushy Bogosing, another legend in the choral music field. The jazz group of masters he played with was notable thanks to his inspiration.

Audiences would always await the baritone of Tsilo on 'what a wonderful world'.  Tsilo was not like many I have met in terms of the clinical competence with which he understood the musical product and its provenance.  Tsilo quitely despised little knowledge that is accompanied by a sought for cheap attention. He had subtly expressed strong views against people being called musicians while they couldn't play a single intrument and so called performing musicians who couldn't sing but just made jammy sounds and bellows. He was a perfectionist that would rather ruminate over a piece then allow it to marinate and percolate unto itself until it matures for the joy of his audiences than hasteful 'making of musical ends meet', which has become a potion of many.  He leaves Banjo Mosele and very few others a lot lonlier because he was one of the few surviving comrades of their school.

These men, these fallen heroes were great for this country and its future.  All of them were as special as they were unique and sometimes or most, they were different from many, they made us as happy as they made a few around them continualy attempting to catch their drift. The answer is, they were specially gifted.  None of them was talented in  following the order that is said to be normal and ordinary because they lived on ground higher than normal, where creative juices are in abumdance and the nominal fails to create sound habitat for them.All of them have my respect. May their souls rest in eternal piece.

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