Modirwa Kekwaletswe, a former Mmegi staffer, artist and a writer, has finally fulfilled his 10-year-old dream to tell the untold story of a legendary segaba player, Ratsie Setlhako.
The book ‘Ratsie Setlhako – The Definitive Biography’ authored by Kekwaletswe was launched on Tuesday at Thapong Visual Arts Centre. The book details the life of ‘wa ponto le sheleng’ segaba legend famed for his prowess on the instrument and his folk songs.
Tuesday, December 19, 2017 will therefore go down in history as the day of the first-ever publication date of a biography on a Botswana artist by a Motswana author.
The launch was fittingly done by a living legend of radio, Batho Molema. Molema, whose now vanished voice, is the one that introduced Setlhako to the world through the Radio Botswana folklore programme ‘Dipina le Maboko’. Molema was quick to explain that it is not he alone that gave Setswana folklore a voice, but “a team of dedicated staff at Radio Botswana that travelled throughout Botswana on a J1 Bedford truck”.
The old man took the crowd that attended the book launch on the journey with his RB1 crew when he recorded these folklore stories in the form of songs and poetry.
He said although his biggest regret is not to travel with a notebook to get the stories, they did what they had to do.
This week, Molema reminded his audience once again that their
Molema narrated how he met the legendary Ratsie Setlhako and recorded his now famous songs like A Re Chencheng, Marobanyana, Ka Mponwane and Mantshwaro, just to name a few, at Radio Botswana in Gaborone.
“The master came to Radio Botswana house. I found him benevolent, a very humble man and remarkable in many aspects,” Molema said.
He also said there is a lot that they could have gotten from Ratsie saying, “Ratsie was a musical giant who should have taught at university”.
Luckily, Kekwaletswe’s book offers the first indepth review of this now long departed icon. It examines his life, music and the legacy he left behind.
Kekwaletswe said it took him over 10 years to reach this milestone and it was a journey that involved disappointments, pain, revelations and humble stories that made him to complete this jigsaw puzzle that was the life of Ratsie.
The book promises to be “an invaluable resource to connoisseurs of folklore music. It provides lessons, entertainment and inspiration based on Ratsie’s life”.
The book was published by Alan Book and the project was supported by Companies And Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) levy on Technical Devices Fund.