The music industry celebrates Lekofi's life


The music industry is mourning the death of former Afro Sunshine keyboard player Lekofi Sejeso. Afro Sunshine is the legendary, top Afro pop group formed in the 80s popularly known for that classic ‘This is Afrika’ album which contained hits like Ma Basket and Tote. The eight-track album included tracks; Afro Sunshine, Mmaebeke, Ma Basket, Tote, Sisi Langeni and Re ba lebile. Sejeso composed almost all the songs on the album except Mmaebeke, which was done by Gino Maposa

Although the group disbanded and became defunct, Sejeso continued his keyboard wizardry and later formed a group called Just Friends before going solo. His involvement in music goes as far back as 1974 when he was still a youngster . During that time, Sejeso teamed up with the likes of Banjo Mosele, Keletso Rakhudu, Ofentse Moagi, Billy Mahloane and Wanetso Masire. He also formed Kalahari with the likes of John Selolwane. In 2000, The Lobatse born and bred Lekofi recorded an album for the Botswana Football Association (BFA) to promote the Zebras. Lekofi was also a member of The Trans-Kalahari Quintet (TKQ) which is an instrumental Afro-jazz ensemble comprised of musicians from the United States, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. After being a regular keyboard players for TKQ Sejeso managed to tour and participate in cultural exchange programmes throughout Africa and other continents. After Sejeso joined the Afro-jazz fusion band, TKQ released two albums, Back to Basics in 2015 and No Longer Strangers in 2018. Sejeso was also a resident at the Grand Palm Hotel & Casino. The keyboard virtuoso was also part of the Re Batswana Music Ensemble that fused folk, traditional, Afro jazz and modern jazz music.

The Group’s managing director was the late director of Street Horn, Soares Katumbela. In 2016, Sejeso toured Europe with some members of the Ensemble such as Lister Boleseng (Music director), song bird Nnunu Ramogotsi, legendary musician Ndingo Johwa backed by Chedza Majwabe as the backing Singer, Sakkie Nonong as the bassist, Andrew Chinganga on saxophone, Kopano Mantswe on percussions and Leroy Nyoni on drums. Sejeso shared the stage with the late Hugh Masekela, Salif Keita, UB 40, the Commodores, Shaba Ranks and a host of other international artists. In an interview with Arts & Culture, an artist who worked with Sejeso for a very long time, Nnunu Ramogotsi said she has known Sejeso when she was young through songs like Ma basket. Ramogotsi said she first met Sejeso when she was a backing vocalist for the late Duncan Senyatso and Ndingo Johwa in 1998.

“He was playing keyboard for the band and I was a backing vocalist. We took this journey together until 2002 when we started our two man band where he played guitar as I sang. We started at O’Hagan’s and played for four years and in 2006 we were hired at Grandpalm as a resident band until 2011. I worked with him on every day basis for a decade,” she recalled. The Mmasonoko hitmaker added that Sejeso was a music producer, a teacher, brother and friend. “He was very humble and he is the one who made us who we are right now”. She said even after releasing her debut album, Mmasonoko she continued working with Sejeso until he died recently. Ramogotsi said they have performed in all kind of events together. “Sejeso and I at some point planned on touring Dubai.

I have learnt a lot of cover songs from him because we didn’t have albums at the time. We were one of the popular two man band at the time. We achieved a lot together because corporate gigs paid a lot,” she further revealed. She said Sejeso always insisted on rehearsal and was specific about repertoire. Ramogotsi said after a lot of years backing other artists, Sejeso was the first artist to work with her as a lead vocalist. She said her wish is for the country to at least honor Sejeso post humorously so that his legacy can live on. Meanwhile, talented guitarist Kapenda Katuta said he met Lekofi for the first time at the Gogo band which recorded music for Mma Ramotswe series The #1 detective agency. “I received a call from Sthibo who by then was working for Mudhut to come and join the band which was rehearsing at fairgrounds premises at the late Gus McNeil of unity band joint.

Lekofi was part of that band and in charge of the repertoire. He welcomed me as a brother and surprisingly he discovered that I was initially involved in some original songs which where rerecorded for the movie for artists like Vee, Chris Manto 7 and Jeff Matheatau,” Kapenda Katuta recalled. Katuta added that Sejeso boosted the morale of the team that was running out of time to cover the repertoire. “The like of Maxy, Shanty lo, Vee Mampeezy, Chris Manto 7, the late Tsilo Baitsile, City the bass player, Philip Rapula Mhlanga, Power, the late Stampore were part of the band. Since then we have been working in so many projects, live sessions or recordings,” he revealed. Katuta said at some point Alexander invited them to see if possible Afro sunshine could be revived He said along with Sejeso they were also invited with Makwengwe, the late Malombo, the late bassist Masoja but the project was put on hold. Katuta said the new version of the Re Batswana ensemble; a project initiated by the late Soares Katumbela needed a guitarist to go for another tour in Europe and he was approached by both Sejeso and Katumbela to join the team. “We had a commando team of five which was renamed after a veteran band called Just friends. We rehearsed at Lekofi’s house.

The team comprised of Lister Boleseng, Enock Mbewe, Lekofi himself, Clyde, and myself. Recently, some weeks ago he invited me to come and record some guitars in a project which they initiated with uncle John Selolwane. Actually the song is uncle John Selolwane's composition. I went to do the job and last Tuesday we spoke to see how we could get to the studio on a Sunday to listen to the development. Sadly on Sunday I received the news of his passing from Mhlanga. Katuta said the passing of Sejeso is an immense loss to the music industry in Botswana .He revealed that Sejeso had respect for other musicians. For her part veteran music promoter Zenzele Hirschfeld, said she met Sejeso around 2006 and the way he played the keyboard just caught her attention. “His humility and talent said a lot about him. We continue to loose great talent of our generation in these trialling times. We have lost a great mentor, teacher, musician in Sejeso. He carried so much wealth of wisdom. The question that Sejeso’s untimely death raised on my mind is have we celebrated them enough or this is a wakeup call to humanity to treasure and embrace what you have before it’s all gone,” she said.

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