Pantsula take Botswana by storm

27th September 2017
PANTSOLA Source:The Midweek Sun


By Keletso Thobega -

Preach against alcohol, drugs and crime

Formalisation of pantsula movement in the pipeline

Once a pantsula, always a pantsula; it is a lifestyle. The pantsula never fail to turn heads because they always look dapper. Dandyism is a part of black culture and the pantsula are no exception.

Their style has been unaffected by the evolution of trends and pervasive street style in black communities. But for the pantsula, it is more than being fashion conscious but also paying homage to their black roots and reflecting a significant cultural period that resonates even today. The cultural and aesthetic of pantsula might not be well-documented, but in recent years more people have become interested in them.

The pantsula movement emerged in the 1950s and 60s. Initially, it was just a pastime for largely young men who danced to entertain themselves. It was later perceived as a response to forced removals during the Apartheid era – as you might know, black South Africans used song and dance to express themselves during that challenging time. The high-energy ecstatic sycophantic dance style became more popular over the years. Considering that Africans often copy trends from the West, pantsula remains one of the styles and modern sub-cultures unique to southern Africa.

There are many ma-pantsula in Botswana; a bit more than you could possibly imagine, actually. No, not run off the mill riff-raff who pick pocket and stab people, but rather clean, respectable and responsible men and women, who are passionate about the sub-culture.

This past weekend the pantsula from Old Naledi branch members inspirited a street parade hosted by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture development on Saturday morning. They later flocked to Mochudi to join hundreds of members from more than ten other branches across the country, who took part in a parade festival hosted to fight alcohol and drug abuse.

The executive team, comprised of chairman Fejus ‘BraFejo’ Modise, Senki ‘Tiza’ Chaba, Mompati ‘Sparks’ Dikgomo and Ntsima ‘Tizolah’ Sekao, are intent on ensuring that ma-pantsula get a positive image. I get this sense when I meet them for an interview on a cool Monday morning. They beam when they see me and greet in the traditional Setswana manner, exchanging polite pleasantries. Clad in stylish garb, they attract attention as passersby jostle to look or ask for a picture.

Confidence pours from their every pore as they sway in stride. The youngest, Tizolah, has a spring in his step and seems ready to break into energetic dance. But apart from the pantsula vibes, they are ordinary family men, sons, uncles and members of society, who are worried about the social ills and want to see a better future for the country. Dikgomo explains that the culture derived from Mbanqanga music, which paved way to disco. “At the time, local pantsula danced to South African township music. The likes of Dan Tshanda introduced township disco here,” he recalls. A meeting with Patrick Boloko who was a member of the Botswana Defence Force led to the idea of taking pantsula seriously. “At that time, we were dancing for Don B shortly after the release of his offering Banna wee,” he says. They later hooked up with Senki. The trio established a pantsula movement and named it Dlala Pantsula. Last year they met Modise, who hails from Kopong, who suggested that they host pantsula dance competitions across the country. They have not looked back since. They have traversed southern Botswana and have been to Thamaga, Kanye, Molepolole, Kopong, Tlokweng, Lentsweletau and Mochudi. The next parade festival will be in Ramotswa on the 7th of October.

Modise says that reception has been promising but they need tangible support. They currently want to help an underprivileged former pantsula based in Mahalapye but are struggling to piece together the project due to lack of funds. Chaba says that they also want to purchase a combi bus and have resources to incentive winners in their competitions, as well as travel around the country. “We want to go to places such as Maun and other areas in the North,” he says. They want to build trust in communities and work with the police and community leaders to help combat crime. “The kgosi in Old Naledi recently summoned us and expressed gratitude over what we do. The police have also stated their faith in us,” Dikgomo says. The groups also perform at weddings and parties and other social events. They can be reached on 76 39 50 51.

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