By Tilo ngwana Rashaka
I don’t know how things are done in Botswana, but in the country of my origin, South Africa, everyone enjoys freedom of expression without any form of censorship. This right is protected by, and enshrined in the country’s constitution that is considered one the bests in the global village.
Taking into consideration the limitations bestowed upon my freedom of speech and expression, my brothers and sisters, allow me to write this open letter to you all at Kulenyane studios in my capacity as a concerned fan.
There is no doubt or whatsoever that Culture Spears is the Africa’s music maestros. Even a mute can vocally back me up, and a deaf can hear me out when I say no African traditional group that I know of is better than Culture Spears.
Vocally, the collaboration of Magdeline, Thembeni and the group’s heavyweight, Kabelo, blend in so well. These three voices put together, not only do they sound nice, but they are mesmerizing as well.
In terms of dancing, I’m tempted to say nothing, by thus far, beats the collaboration of my obvious favourite dancers, Lydia and Jelinah. These two female dancers are dancers of distinct style. Jelinah, especially, Is versatile. You should see how she and Thembeni dance to the melodious sounds of Zimba in E ke ntolo vol 2. In a subtle manner, she’s saying, “look, I’m dancing. You better pay your attention to me cause I know I’m excelling in what I’m doing.” Back to Culture Spears, As Magdeline sang, their (Jelinah and Lydia’s) collaboration on stage gave Culture Spears a rhythm.
But anyway, that does not matter anymore. I was just reflecting on the good old days when Jelinah was still part of the group. Let the truth be spoken, Jelinah is one of the bests, if not a number one dancer Culture Spears has ever produced. I therefore wish her luck in her future endevours.
But post Jelinah’s untimely resignation, Culture Spears is still doing well in terms dancing. The dance moves are thoroughly choreographed and the introduction of Malebogo Sephikwe and Tumelo Lesole seems to have been a move in the right direction. Malaki Tapologo and Thembeni Ramosehleng are also doing a great job.
Even though it seems Culture Spears is up and running again despite all the odds that included underpayment allegations, Charma Gal’s signature tune, Matebele, allegedly being stolen from Anju, among others, one may also argue that in the recent years Culture Spears has taken a step back to accommodate the blossoming E ke ntolo project.
Last week when I heard that E ke ntolo has released vol 5, the news got me thinking. I sat down, took a piece of paper and a pen, on the left side of the paper I listed all Culture Spears projects since it was formed in 2005 and on the other side I recorded E ke ntolo‘s projects.
For those who may not know, Culture Spears released their first project in 2005. About two years later, they formed the afro-pop group, E ke ntolo. To date, 8-year-old Culture Spears has four albums, Korone, Kulenyane, Khudu and Kuweletsana. By contrast, only 6-year-old E ke ntolo has 5 album, Emang basadi, Chika, Matebele, Mokgwenyane and the latest is Chomie yame.
Interestingly, The last project of Culture Spears, Kuweletsana, was released in 2011. But E ke ntolo dropped an album last year, Mokgwenyana and this year again, Chomie yame. Over the past few years, the media in Botswana reported that Culture Spears seems to have taken a step back to accommodate the growth of E ke ntolo. Of course this was the allegation that the group’s lead man, Kabelo, poured a cold water on.
But today, I’m reflecting back to those allegations. Can someone please say ‘shut up Tilo. Relax as there’s no need to worry. Culture Spears will release when the time is right?’ But my question is how, then, do you justify a situation whereby a 6 year old E ke ntolo has 5 albums, and released in two consecutive years but Culture Spears, that has 8 years of existence, only has 4 albums, sorry I can’t count in the remix-flashback project the group released in 2010.
The problem with critics is that their job is to criticize and yet some may not know how it is to run a functioning and sustainable organization. And because I don’t want to be like them, that’s why I have decided to write this letter so that someone with a better understanding can explain to me and put my heart at ease. But is it because of the political economy of the music industry in Botswana and elsewhere in the world?
I’m not sure about the success of E ke ntolo in Botswana but in my country, it seems E ke ntolo is no match to Culture Spears. When there’s a new Culture Spears project, you can feel it, there’s a vibe. But anyway, who am I? A nobody who’s only analyzing things from a distance. The people who are inside, with sales projections, know better than I do.
Pass my greetings to everyone at Kulenyane studios. As much as I genuinely support your music, I also respect your craft, your brand. Wish you all the best in everything that you’ll be doing. “Seru sa malwetsi wee re wetse ke seru. Malwetsi a mantsi wee re wetse ke seru.”
Picture retrieved from: Sunday Standard online.