The phrase ‘domina ditlhapi’ recently made waves when an unknown artist’s song called Ko Seronga went viral on social media.
Videos of people singing and dancing to the song then started circulating on social media platforms and that’s when the stage name Koolkat surfaced in what was a big break for the artist.
Real name Thato Kavinja, Koolkat was born in Seronga and later moved to Maun in 2004 where he grew up. He has been behind the scenes recording music with his cousin, Lesedi Timone, since 2012. In an interview, Kavinja reveals that Ko Seronga has given them a platform and a chance to play their part in the music industry. He says they were looking forward to giving the world what they had in store.
“The music I do particularly the ‘’Ko Seronga’’ is an expression of being homesick and longing for those days we experienced growing up in a magnificent region like the Okavango Delta, a place where nations of the world travel to go and see,” he tells Arts & Culture. “Our music is inspired by the lifestyle and activities that are unique to that region and we want to share it in the most creative way we can, starting here in Botswana and with the rest of the world. Namibia is already happy and proud of the Seronga song. Most natives there who share similar experiences of growing up in the Okavango Delta call us daily expressing their joy. We causally called the genre ‘’Motyiko” in a conversation with my cousin Timone. It is an unofficial phrase that simply refers to use of North Western languages in a song, Seyei, Mbukushu, Setawana to mention a few.”
According to Kavinja they have not worked on any album yet, but said one was on its way. Kavinja adds that he released a single in 2017 in support of Kast’s Movement of Tlatsa Lebala. He says thesong was good although it only trended within his college. However, he explains that he recorded the Seronga hit at his place using a type beat. Kavinja reveals he was just having fun and was surprised when the song went viral this year.
“We engaged a producer I respect called Jazzman of Taboka Croft Studio. Trusting his excellent craft, he did wonders to the production of the official song which is currently playing on Radio Botswana. I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Jazzman, Sheheya and My Eyes (who are) featured on the song. Together we made a hit song for Batswana. I write my own music. I have written over 50 songs and I am yet to release them. I wrote the Seronga song at a time when I had been in the city for over two years without going home due to work,” he reveals. Kavinja recalls how one time he played beats to record and that particular one took him back home and brought a lot of childhood memories in Seronga. He says he then packaged those memories into the hit song, which is currently passing the same feeling to everyone. “I am happy it went viral,” he says.
Kavinja explains that the message of the song is to cherish activities indigenous to them and be proud of what makes them unique as a group of people. He adds that the song brought them together. Kavinja says he saw Batswana calling from all over the country and beyond borders just happy to hear something that gets them to miss the little things about home.
Kavinja urges his fans to expect more hit songs that take Northwestern Lifestyle and tradition further to the world. He points out that the song brought people together just like how he had hoped when writing it.
Moreover, he explains that the song took them away from worrying about how COVID-19 affected them and took time as a country to enjoy their own craft and be happy as a collective. He points out that people were curious about what Nkhorongo was, what go domina dithapi meant, who is Mompati, and who is Duda or Punu. He explains that Duda, Punu and Mompati are his cousins and that Magrato, Maika and Mabaki are his aunts while Banks and Onks are his uncles.
“This song has brought so much joy to my family in loving memory of my late elder uncle, Onkabetse Onks Kavinja. We are working on Seronga music video to be shot in Seronga and also have time to document a few stories from people of Seronga and give Batswana detailed insights into the experience of life in Seronga. We look forward to sponsors making it easy for us to use the video to tell an awesome story about the Okavango Delta and the home of Seronga.”
Kavinja says he has opened a Facebook page and strategically built up hype towards the official release of the song. According to Kavinja his music is different from other artists as he hardly creates songs based on what’s trending. “The most important part is that my career should not hinder me from sharing the love of Christ with any person.
Tlatsa Lebala’s song back in 2017 got me nominated for Minister of Entertainment at college and I actually got selected as the Minister. It might be small, but it was a great accomplishment for me and it exposed me to a lot of learning and growing. The Ko Seronga song is a magnificent achievement that opened doors to a lot more to come,” he says.
Kavinja points out that as artists they mostly depend on shows and bookings for making money, but now the well has dried up. However, he says he has accepted that the absence of that would not stop him from taking his art to people.
He adds that online platforms like iTunes, bemastores (a local online store) are aids one could utilise and employ excellent business models to sell with. He says Facebook is also an excellent marketing tool at their disposal.