Meet Fundie Molebtsi, the Bakgatla royal poet. The 27-year-old from Manamakgote ward in Mochudi is a master at his craft earning the respect of the Bakgatla royal family. He has now been chosen to be Kgosikgolo Kgafela Kgafela’s ceremonial poet.
Before Kgafela left the country, Molebatsi was selected by the royal family member Bana Sekai to be his official poet both in Mochudi and Moruleng.
He was chosen after impressing during his initiation (bogwera) in 2011.
Molebatsi is a member of the Matlotlakgosi regiment.
He developed a passion for poetry after listening to Radio Botswana’s Dipina Le Maboko. His talent came to the fore when he was still a Standard Five student at Lady Mitchison Primary School.
After transferring to Kgafela Primary School a year later, he continued to follow his passion for which he earned recognition from both the tribe and the royal family.
He recalls the early days when he used to steal the limelight during the Commonwealth commemoration days and other ceremonies at primary school.
“Some parents would specifically attend the celebrations at school, for instance Prize Giving ceremonies, knowing that Fundie would be there,” he says.
His star would shine brighter once he reached Sedibelo Junior Secondary School. He said poetry defines one’s culture, language, heritage and that it can promote the country and contribute to tourism.
“The school head used to ask me to recite my poems during the morning assemblies. I would stand bold in front of other students and recite my poem with pride because I had the love for this and I did it with passion and before I could even end my poem everybody would be clapping,” he told Arts & Culture.
While he clearly enjoyed the limelight, Molebatsi said he would be worried that the excitement disturbed the students from grasping the messages in his poems.
His talent would earn him not only cheers but also prizes during the prize giving ceremonies at the school. The prizes provided enough motivation for the then young student to take his craft to another level.
His dream of showcasing his talent at senior secondary school was dealt a blow when he failed his Form Three.
“I had wanted to join the poetry club at senior secondary school because that would have given me a bigger platform to showcase my talent, but unfortunately I failed,” he said.
Being Kgafela’s official poet has given him a bigger platform to share his talent, yet Molebatsi continues to aim higher.
Not even failing to win the annual presidential music and arts awards would put him down.
“I am aiming to get position one nationally and I will be entering the competition with a poem entitled Pula Madira Dintle, Madira Maswe E Netse Botswana,” he said.
The young poet is also planning to record his poems.
“I have about 20, which I composed and Kgafela has also advised me to publish my works,” he says.
The lure of the pula seems to be another source of motivation for Molebatsi.
“Gone are the days when poets used to recite for free at weddings. Poets do it for a living,” he said.