In Kabila, the nation lost great talent

Kabila last perfomed on stage last year december at Morobosi Festival PIC: MOMPOLOKI RANKGATE
I am sure most can remember the pint-sized little man who brought life to our stages and made Botswana Television’s Mokaragana Saturday nights and Flava Dome's Friday nights unmissable.

As the nation watched the footage of his incredible talent in motion he would swing, twirl and sashay onto the stage like he was a mini Michael Jackson.

He basically choreographed his own dance moves during the time when kwasa kwasa and kwaito kwasa music genres were the in thing. During an era when dancers like Coming Soon, Mshinto and Majaivane were a marvel to watch, he was basically the man who made music videos a trend when he appeared in Wizards’ music video called Phokoje. For someone of such small body size he used detailed body movements to exert an overpowering influence onto both the watching and dancing world.

Real name Tabona Seretse, Botswana’s creative industry on Monday lost Kabila who had been a dancer for Wizards for the most part of his career. Kabila started dancing at a young age but broke into the industry as a dancer for Thabo Bolokwe and Tebatso Hule’s T-Joint kwaito group. He was also an actor and many of his fans can remember him for those incredibly magical moments on screen.

He kick-started his acting career when he starred in the controversial BTV hit drama, Norman Moloi’s Thokolosi, in 2006. In the drama, Kabila played the evil creature that choked James to death under the bed. Kabila continued to rise and rise in the filming arena. He played the role of a bicycle company boss in a comedy, Ntsoro Part II and later appeared in Chobolo franchise as a child who had to use tricks to survive his confined environment. Kabila’s displays in the drama and comedy movies won the hearts of the viewers who wouldn’t have otherwise recognised him as a great dancer. In 2009, he also appeared in Vee Mampeezy’s drama called Vee VS Radijo. Kabila was working with Vee Mampeezy once again at the time after being the latter’s dancer before joining Wizards of the Desert now Wizards.

Even though most of his roles were playing creatures and children, Kabila once told the media that he never thought they were looking down on him because of his disability.

“I remember one day T-Joint was performing at Kabelano Charity Cup and we put Kabila in a mozimbabwe bag. During the performance we went towards the bag, Kabila crept out of it and started running around the pitch. There were wild cheers all over the stands because people loved what they saw,” former member of T-Joint, Thabo Bolokwe also known as T.H.A.B.O recalled during an interview with Arts & Culture. 

He said Kabila joined them in the early 2000s and they worked well with him before he left in 2003 just before T-Joint disbanded. “We always laughed in his presence. He always had punch lines. Eee le leclownara,” he said. T.H.A.B.O described Kabila as a humble person who listened to other people’s advice. He said the late Kabila gave people hope because of his height. He said personally what he liked was the confidence that oozed from Kabila each

time he got on stage. He said even though T-Joint put him on the map, Kabila was a very loyal person no wonder he stuck with Wizards until the end. “He was not a dancer. He was an artist.” The other half of Wizards, Kealeboga Leruele also known as KLo said Kabila was more than just a dancer in their group. “He was our brother. We lost as a group, industry and a nation,” he said. KLo described Kabila as someone who loved music and also liked to compete. He said Kabila had many followers and had been working with them for more than a decade before his passing. He said even though he was a dancer for T-Joint and Vee at some point before he joined them, Kabila was very loyal.

The man who spent most of the time with Kabila in rehearsals and stages Mivado said he had known him since he joined Wizards in 2008. “I grew up with him and he was more of a brother than colleague,” he said. Mivado said even though he was a newbie, Kabila gave him a warm welcome and taught him many dance moves. “He liked to be happy. O ne ale le clownara blind and used to call us with funny names,” he said. Mivado said in a time leading to his death, he was in and out of the hospital since last year. He recalled that the last time they performed with him was last year at Morobosi festival in Tswapong. “He left a legacy and every dancer looked up at him.”

Promoter Zenzele Hirschfield, who met Kabila around the time when she started music promotion, also remembered the talented dancer. “It is difficult to talk about him because he was such an inspiration,” she said. She described him as a man who had a great sense of humour and never intimidated by anything. Zen said they have lost a life that loved the creative industry. “It is sad that we keep losing such talents. We lost excellence that could have benefited the industry but still have nothing to show. His death should teach us a lesson that an Arts Council has to be formed,” she highlighted.

Botswana Music Union president, Pagson Ntsie described Kabila as a loyal and committed artist who never let his disability put him down. “He took his art as a career not a hobby,” he said. He said before his last surgery due to shunt headache, Kabila was before that struggling with appendix problems.

Kabila who died at the young age of 28 was the kind of artist who charmed the crowds with his amazing charisma. The art of dance is a unique form of expression that everyone understands and people were just amazed how someone such small could dance like that. He had a genetic condition that affects bone growth but his striking charm and talents formed a perfect combination. May his soul rest in peace.




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