Remembering days gone by when Borankana was hot property

19th May 2017
Bullet Ketshabile Source:The Midweek Sun


By Peter Madiya - Reporter

There was a point in time when traditional music was in sync following its commercialisation and inclusion of contemporary beats which made the new found style appealing and embraced by locals and international fans. The era saw the birth of Borankana groups that include Shumba Ratshega, Dikakapa, Mokorwana, Matsieng and Captain Dira, among many others.

Mokorwana cultural group which was under the mentorship and guidance of Radijo was the first to make the cut as they went on to produce Botswana’s first ever DVD under Dargie Digital Studios (DDS).  The group had as its members what would be the future of Borankana cream as it comprised the likes of Shelly Mokoka, Gong Master, Captain Dira, Ditaola and many others. Following the release of their album Maitshwaro, the group disbanded as most of its members went solo as borankana fever engulfed the whole country including South Africa where the genre is still renowned.

Apart from Mokorwana ensemble, there was also another block of Borankana artists who were under the management of Eric Ramco Records which was owned by Eric Ramogobjwa. Under his team, groups including Machesa, Matsieng and Kganka were released during the traditional music revolution. Apart from artists who made the genre to be exciting, there were also reputable producers or music instrumentalists including Bullet Ketshabile, Tumelo Mafoko and Robert Dargie, who kept fans on their toes as they produced hit after hit.

Dargie and Ramogobjwa were also the first producers to take advantage of the new conceptualised genre as they produced songs which went on to dominate local air waves.

Under Ramco Records, Batswana were sure of rich songs with a strong Setswana culture and language influence which included Matsieng hit song Tinto which became an instant hit.

On the other hand, DDS discovered the magic in Maxy queen of the sands as she went on to grab bragging rights from other artists with a Sesarwa influenced traditional music as she became an instant hit and sold thousands of copies following the release of her albums.

 It was a known fact that each year Batswana expected good music from both of the two local record labels who happened to be popular at that time.
Captain Dira’s Matalanyane album which went to become a darling was released under DDS records for Black Money Makers which is a stable managed by VEE Mampeezy. To prove that the genre was making strides, Machesa went on to win a Kora award and became very famous as they were always booked for shows in South Africa.

 It is also worth noting that although Bullet Ketshabile had no record company by then, he was one of the first local producers to have put Botswana traditional music on the international map following the release of Dikakapa’s Selempu album, which catapulted the group to greater heights. When music lovers were still enjoying his production with Dikakapa, the young Motswana producer who was at the time based in South Africa working for Sunshine Studios, did the unthinkable as he went on to produce Shumba Ratshega’s Makhirikhiri which upped the ante in traditional music.

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