The amazing Moratiwa

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One cannot talk about the local arts and culture sector and leave out the artistic Moratiwa Molema who has achieved a lot in a short space of time. Best known by her first name and monicker, Moratiwa, she is an all-rounder who has managed to play a number of roles.

She has done live performances, fine art, music, photography, creative directing and lecturing.

Moratiwa has, over the years, created and presented amazing works in different forms of art.  She has worked on a number of Maitisong Festival productions, directed the Botswana Sports Awards ceremony and has performed in many countries abroad.

Talking about how she managed to be who she is, Moratiwa sits back and takes a deep breath, “Mmmmh can I start from the beginning to the top?” asked the soft-spoken Moratiwa, who refused to mention her age saying she is as old as the ocean.

“I started rhythmical gymnastics in Germany when I was eight-years-old.  I was a competitive athlete, competing in Europe until I was 14-years-old, and that is when I moved to Botswana,” she said.  Upon her arrival in the country she decided to continue with gymnastics and ballet until she went to University of Botswana (UB).  While doing her studies at UB she developed an interest for dance.  She was one of the founding members of Letsatsi Dance Troupe, which was led by Jean Raoul Austin de Drouiard.

“The artistic mind came naturally.  It was one of the easiest things that I could do even though there were some obstacles along the way,” Moratiwa explained.

Creativity has always been something visible in Moratiwa’s work.  She plays around with color, lights, sound and images.  She told Arts & Culture that she draws her inspiration from her keen observation of the environment.

“I also observe how people react to images,” she said. While with Letsatsi Dance Troupe she moved to the United States of America to pursue her studies in Fine Arts at Hartford Connecticut, where she joined another dance troupe, Artist Collective formed by jazz artist, Steven Hankey.

In America, Moratiwa adopted the culture of helping upcoming artists develop their craft, “I love growth, it’s a culture that I developed in the States”.The passionate artist kept migrating from one country to another to pursue her studies.  She moved to Cape Town where she worked with dance legend Mamela Nyamza on her hit production Hatch, as a video artist.

Upon completing her studies, Moratiwa returned home where she rejoined her old peers Letsatsi Dance Troupe.

“I outgrew it soon because I realised my need to express my own ideas. I started performing less and turned to directing and conceptualising shows,” she said. As a start she established New Moon a collective of dancers and musicians, which put more emphasis on traditional dance.

She also started The Dance Experience, a group that incorporated contemporary art.

The moment Moratiwa decided to take her route, she unleashed a number of creative concepts, which opened doors for her.

She was invited to perform in different places such as Kenya and India for the ninth International Poetry Festival Kritya in 2014.  She has worked with a number of artists, such as Berry Heart, as their creative director.

As a well-travelled artist who has seen art in different forms and places, she believes that the struggle for resources in the local arts industry needs to be addressed.

“We do not have an official dance academy that trains dancers professionally.  Talented dancers go to waste unless they study elsewhere. 

“We also need bigger audiences to make the money back that we invested in preparing a show,” Moratiwa said.

She further stated that artists are underpaid in the country and dancers are the least respected artists.  With all this Moratiwa is on a quest to identify a form of art that is a trademark to Botswana’s identity.

“Everything is in place.  We need finishing and execution to tell our own stories.  People have been telling our stories,” she said giving the example of MmaRamotswa. She is currently a lecture at the newly opened film school, AFDA, and is running Moratiwa Productions.

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