Lifestyle depicter preserves Botswana culture

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The first President of Botswana the late Sir Seretse Khama once said ‘Tshaba e se senang ngwao ke mo kang e latlhegileng (a nation without a culture is a lost one)’. While many others have abandoned the Setswana culture in pursuit of a western lifestyle, one artist from Kopong has decided to preserve Botswana culture and lifestyle through his artistry. Mmegi Staffer, MOMPATI TLHANKANE caught up with Goemeone Modisane, the Botswana lifestyle depicter

There is a saying that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and the same can be said about Modisane’s work.  His paintings convey the different lifestyles of Batswana with just one still visual image.  His artwork has the ability to tell a story not known to the audience.

Modisane’s artwork inculcates Setswana culture onto the young people who have had the misfortune of growing up in an era dominated by globalisation and influence of the western culture.

When Arts & Culture visited his studio at Thapong Visual Arts this week, Modisane availed some of his artworks and all of them screamed culture.  One of his eye-catching paintings shows a girl playing a traditional game called diketo.

Being a game that is not familiar with many youngsters who grew up in the urban areas, the painting creates a curiosity and desire to know more. For those who are familiar with the game, the painting brings about a nostalgia for the olden days.  Another painting entitled ‘Old Men’ shows three elderly men in a joyful mood.

The latest painting is called The Grazing Zebras, which shows wildlife. Modisane said he wanted to create a picture of wildlife for those who have never been to the game reserves and national parks.

 Looking back, Modisane said he has always been an artist from his primary school days.

“When I was doing Standard Six, I entered a competition called Moso and that’s when I realised my ability in art,” he said.  Modisane said throughout his schooling at Kopong Junior and Ledumang Senior secondary schools he continued to grow his artistry.  “I joined Thapong in 2004 and I started joining workshops and exhibitions,” he said.

Modisane added that he then met Botswana’s renowned painter, Wilson Ngoni, who mentored him.  “He told me I had potential so I got the opportunity to watch him as he worked,” he recalled.

He said Ngoni taught him to use oil paint because it has an durable element.

Modisane indicated that Ngoni helped him a lot to improve his skill.  “I can now produce quality artwork, and now the importance is to show skill on the canvas first,” he said.  In 2012 he collaborated with his mentor in an exhibition called ‘Back To Basics’.  “It allowed me to show my skill on the canvas because it was very broad and open,” he said.

He said that this year he hosted another one called the brilliant brush and that is where he showed his skill in using oil paint.

The 30-year-old artist told Arts & Culture that his artwork is inspired by everyday life events.

“I concentrate on Botswana lifestyle and culture.  I like our culture and for some of us who were fortunate enough to see the good of both worlds, I can now tell Botswana’s past to those who never got the chance to see it,” he said.  He said youngsters are not familiar with Botswana culture so he has made it his mission to show them their roots. Preserving culture through art is his first priority.

“It is good to have a visual depiction of Botswana culture,” he expressed.  Modisane also said his paintings tell stories in episodes.   He said he always carries a camera to social gatherings and it is where he gets inspiration.  He said it takes three days to finish a big painting and the smaller ones just a day.

Modisane said his prices range from P500 to P1,000.  Modisane added that throughout the years he has been showered with praises and it helped him grow as an artist.  He said he has met upcoming artists who needed advice and guidance.

Modisane said that he wants to represent Botswana outside.  “I want to show the world what my country is all about,” he said.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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