The master guitarist who got his lessons from Dipina le Maboko


A crowd favourite in a popular brand where he plays lead, guitarist Patrick Motlaopi otherwise known as Mangaza by his legion of fans and friends says he was inspired by a local radio program to play the guitar. The self-taught guitarist tells Correspondent GOITSEMODIMO KAELO how he ended up playing the lead guitar for the most popular band, Franco and Afro Musica.

Motlaopi has been in the music industry for over two decades now and has performed for so many different bands and artists, but he has never sat foot in a conventional guitar class to learn the musical instrument with six strings.

However, the guitar has been the source of livelihood for the 37-year-old father of two. He is one of the few local guitarists who have played lead guitar in a Kwasa kwasa genre originally dominated by foreigners. 

In his own words, a local radio program inspired his passion to learn the instrument that airs on radio Botswana called Dipina le Maboko.

“At a tender age, I would listen to this program and then practice with my four string guitar which I had made for myself afterwards. I would look for old used batteries and place them in the scorching sun so that I would be able to listen to the program because I enjoyed the way people played with guitar,” he said.

He said he would later meet with the six-string guitar in 2000 when he went to school at Moshupa Senior School and joined the school band where he was also made the band patron.

 “Ever since I learnt to make a few dissonant sounds on a friend’s guitar, I was hooked, and yearned to master the six stringed instrument. I’ve always wanted to be able to play the music I could hear in my head, and the guitar just seemed to be the perfect way to do it,” he said. Thamaga-born Mangaza relives his musical journey after completing his high school. He says at one point in 2002, he went to Bulawayo Zimbabwe where he joined a group called Legal Lions under Taurai Phekiwe.  “I played mid solo. The group played more of cultural type of music and they loved how I fused our own traditional rhythm with theirs.” 

Six months later he returned to Botswana and joined Charlie Musonda whom they formed a Rhumba group called Africa stars.

He would later join Alfredo Mos & Less Africa Sounds in 2006 where he continued to play for other artists. He said by playing for different artists such as Jeff Matheatau when he played rhythm guitar in the album Ko Moepong, and playing with other instrumentalists for the likes of Polino Balega, Oxygen Molosankwe and Dudu Kachungo meant that he learnt a lot and continued to hone his skills.

“With Africa Sounds, I released two albums with them; Ipotse and O Nkgopole (Remember me) where I played mid solo, rhythm and bass. I decided to take a break in 2009 after we had an accident with Alfredo on our way to a show.

However, I didn’t just sit, because of my love for the instrument, I freelanced for different artists who would just call me up when they had a show,” he added. In 2010, Mangaza joined Franco and Afro Musica.

Although he left the group in 2013 to work in Orapa, he returned in 2016, which has become his family up to date.

He believes he has achieved what every young guitarist dreams of because he started playing for unknown groups but ended with the big artists. He says he has no regrets in life although he thinks that his passion for music might have blinded him from reality that he also needed to make money.

“In hindsight, I can see that I was driven by passion. I forgot that I had to make money to feed my family. But I now have a mini studio and I provide guitar lessons as well. I also wish that just like other artists, instrumentalists could have an association to advocate for our well-being because to me BOMU talks more about artists and forget their bands”.

Editor's Comment
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When the pandemic reached Botswana’s shores last year March, a nation united in the quest to defeat an invisible enemy. It is a moment never witnessed in recent memory, with the catastrophes of the world war and the 1918 Spanish influenza being the only other comparisons in living memory. Botswana, like the rest of the world, had to readjust its priorities and channel most, if not all, of its energies towards fighting COVID-19. It has not been...

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