Ozi’s Bodybag V: How an artist protests

Ozzy F Teddy
Ozzy F Teddy

‘First thing first’, Ozi F Teddy chose the right medium to protest, writes THALEFANG CHARLES

Recently, local musicians have been getting a little adventurous with their protests. Just a few years ago before he quit music for swimming, DT – former Lords of the Ghetto member – staged a one-man protest walk through Queens Road in Gaborone Main Mall with an illegible message on a purple manila paper under police escort. Another rapper, Kast literally took his displeasure a bit further, walking 1,000km in a protest effort to have his Tlatsa-Lebala Festival at the National Stadium. More recently it was rapper ATI, who also pulled off two street protests.

The Khiring Khiring Khorong Khorong hitmaker took to Facebook to live-stream his 'Mo ke mo gae mo' protest at Satar Dada’s property in Fairground Mall and later attempted to access the highly restricted State House “to meet with the President”. The latter stunt actually earned him a night in a police cell. His one-night stint in jail creating a hashtag, #FreeATI that successfully pulled protestors at the gates of the Central Police Station and the Extension II Magistrate's Court in support to have him freed.

Beginning December last year, after nine months without any events or revenue, it dawned on musicians that they would lose their lucrative Festive Season. Some of them took to the streets to protest for the entertainment industry to be opened. They defiantly held a protest festival at Old Naledi in Gaborone, but there was no music.

The notable memories from the Zola gathering were Vee Mampeezy’s repeated shouts of “Masisi wee!”. Amongst them all, there was no protest anthem. None had turned to the power of their artistry to put their frustrations and protests into song. Not until Ozi. Eighteen months since musicians have been barred from hosting a profitable festival, as per the COVID-19 protocols, one rapper finally chose the right medium to voice his frustration and displeasure at the sad state of affairs. Last week Thursday, rapper Ozi F Teddy delivered his message in Bodybag V ‘dissing the government’. The song streamed via audio platforms and social media, getting the nation abuzz mostly for the crude and raw profanity. Ozi, born Tshepang Ted Phaphane, fused American gangster rap and traditional Setswana, putting his poetic licence to use, “Pina gaena bosekelo” saying “re ny***e rotlhe, no leadership, ditsotsi botlhe”. The song does not expressly mention any leader by name but Ozi’s lyrical cues let listeners draw their conclusions as he delivers the punch lines.

He only expressly confesses that “F**k the government that’s who I'm dissing”. The song echoes NWA’s 1988 hit, ‘F**k Tha Police’, which was one of the greatest protest songs against police brutality and racial profiling in America. Ozi’s song trended for few days boosted by his brief police questioning and his Facebook live-streaming with ATI. Ozi and ATI had publicly beefed in the past to a point where the former made a dissing track, ‘Lekhete’ directed at his nemesis at the time.

Even though Bodybag V sounds like just a freestyle rap diss-track and only trended for a weekend before social media jumped to the next issue, Ozi will be remembered for rightly choosing to go into the studio instead of taking to the streets to protest. Although his song might fall short to inspire a revolution, he joins some of the greatest artists that used their art form to protest their displeasure at the powers that be, no matter the consequences. He chose the boldness of Ice Cube, MC Ren, and Eazy-E when they stood up to say, "F**k tha police" long before Kendrick Lamar reiterated the sentiment when he said: “And we hate po-po, wanna kill us dead in the street for sure, nigga, But we gon' be alright”.

He chose the machismo of Hugh Masekela when he poked the Apartheid beast defiantly saying "Bring him back Nelson Mandela"; when the striking Miriam Makeba used her melody to deliver "Ndodemnyama (Beware), Verwoerd!"; when Bob Marley belted out his reflection "Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight"; when James Brown made a statement, “Say it loud, I'm Black and I'm proud”; when Peter Gabriel protested the brutal killing of Steve Biko saying “You can blow out a candle, But you can't blow out a fire, Once the flames begin to catch, the wind will blow it higher". Before social media, musicians used the power of their music to make political statements that influenced popular culture and led change. It, therefore, is commendable that there is a rapper that is brave enough to call out the government when they see there is cause.

Editor's Comment
Let the law take its course

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