Made in Botswana
A little while ago, I mentioned that I was hoping to go to a concert. It occurs to me that I haven’t told you anything about it, so I thought I should.
‘Made in Botswana‘ was staged by Sedibeng Choral Society in an impressive hall at Muru-a-pula Secondary School, here in Gaborone. The amateur Society have been running for just four years, but have build a remarkable repertoire and resume in that time, performing with the likes of the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra and South Africa’s Sibongile Khumalo. They were also involved in the music for the recent highly acclaimed adaptation of Alexander McCall Smith’s No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.
The evening was divided into two parts – the first a short selection of classical music, which happened to include some of my favourite pieces from Bizet’s Carmen, sung in the original French. Highlights for me were Tshenolo Segokgo’s wonderfully sexy Habanera and Oteng Zachariah’s laid back and cocky version of Bernstein’s Lucky to be Me.
The second part was longer and complied of music either created or arranged by two members of the Society, Lucky Ramoloko and leader Andy Batshogile. As the title of the evening would suggest, these pieces were built around the traditional life of the Batswana. Some were written specifically for the show, the others were arrangements of songs traditionally sung at special events and in everyday life.
The choir’s entrance was exciting and the evening continued apace with joy, energy, humour and brilliant harmonies. Several times I had to remind myself that it was sung entirely a cappella, the accompanist from the first half having taken her seat with the audience for the second.
As promised, there were songs from the school yard and the fields, from weddings and even to a traditional medicine man. The evening turned somber with the truly moving (and beautifully set) Iyoo mme, a lament for the very many Batswana who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS. Again, Tshenolo Segokgo shone as the lead vocalist.
Ralph Dennison then picked us up again with Ha le mpona (literally translated, ‘As you see me’), a fun song about a young man returning from working in the mines in South Africa with… ah… I won’t spoil the surprise… You see, a few days later I was talking to Andy Batshogile, the Society leader, and there are hopes afoot to take the show on tour to the UK.
If it happens I’ll try to let you know, but one thing is for sure – if you get the chance to see Sedibeng Choral Society’s Made in Botswana go and see it. You will not be disappointed.
Don’t just take my word for it – the Gazette loved it too!