Newsletter - March 2002

Maitisong, Maru a Pula School, P.Bag 0045, Gaborone, Botswana.
Tel: (267)371809; Fax: (267)584946.  e-mail:

Edited by David Slater

The Maitisong Festival 2002
 12 - 20 APRIL 2002

Motshereganyi Sefanyetso and Otto Oussoren have started working for the Festival as the dash for the Festival week begins. It’s later this year being in the school holiday. The Festival Offices are in place and the nervous energy rises daily, fuelled by coffee and doughnuts. 


The Festival has some new features, especially in the Outdoor Programme. For the first time we are going to use the TSHOLOFELO PARK as an outdoor venue. That will be on the first weekend (12-14 April) when a full programme of free outdoor shows will be put on. If this works well, we hope to make it a major venue for 2003, even putting on main shows there. The Old Naledi programme still remains and will be on the second weekend of the Festival (19, 20 April). This has become the most popular outdoor event of the Festival and is very important to us. We will not have shows in Bontleng or the B.B.S. mall this year so that we can concentrate on the new venue.


In the Indoor shows there are some good shows coming: the well-known South African conductor, Richard Cock, who is famous for his shows at places like the Zoo Lake and Kirstenbosch and who also conducts with Prof Khumalo in the Nation Building concerts, is coming with his choir. They will join with the Gaborone Music Society to perform the ever-popular CARMINA BURANA. There will be some fine dancers to go with the rhythmic music: Mogwana is choreographing dances to go with some of the numbers. 

The Alliance Francaise is bringing Salia Ny Seidou, a fiver-person dance troupe, to perform FIGNINTO on the opening show. They will be followed, in a special double-bill by the BALLET THEATRE AFRIKAN from Pretoria. What a way to open the Festival! The Soweto Symphony Orchestra and choir will perform with four local choirs, including the K.T.M. Choir, the K.M.S. Trust Choir and Dinare from Ramotswa on the last day of the Festival.


Another first this year is the inclusion of a BOOK FAIR. The British Council is bringing ALEXANDER McCALL SMITH, author of the set of three books on Botswana; THE NUMBER ONE LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY, TEARS OF THE GIRAFFE and MORALITY FOR BEAUTIFUL GIRLS. He will talk about his books and other aspects of writing. There will also local writers who will join in a panel discussion on writing and then the two ‘lion children’ from Maun. These are the McNiece children who have lived in the Okavango while their parents researched the lions there. They have written about their experiences in a book shortly to be published. 


Vista is the main sponsor of the Festival and is presenting it. The Grand Palm is a large sponsor who will be assisting us with accommodation. Budget Rent-a-Car provided the Festival with a free car. The Alliance Francaise and the British Council have helped with bringing performers.

Scanner Saga

The pictures are back in the Newsletter without bromides, scissors and glue. This, courtesy of BASENET SOLUTIONS who fixed it in two days when the big company took 4 months to do nothing. Just shows.


The Maitisong Webmaster, Sebonego Sebonego of WEBSWANA, is going to keep the newsletter on the Maitisong web page. Have a look and send us your comments.

18th - 23rd March

During this week the Maru a Pula students plan a celebration of art, literature, music and drama. There will be events, workshops and performances around this theme. Shows and exhibitions will take place in the afternoons and evenings throughout the week. Check with the school closer to the time for details of these.

OFENTSE SEGATLHE: tenor in waiting

 Suddenly, young Batswana singers are popping up where you don’t expect. First there was Gape Motswaledi singing with Sibongile Khumalo at the Maitisong Festival; then recently Regi Kopi sang in the CARMEN at the Spier Festival near Cape Town; Angela Kerrison appeared on the front page of the Johannesburg STAR singing DIDO AND AENEAS with Sibongile Mngoma also at the Spier Festival and extremely favourably reviewed; and now another young tenor is demanding attention.

He is  OFENTSE SEGATLHE, currently studying at the University of Cape Town Music School. He has already been there for four years and has another two to go. Amazingly, he is not being sponsored by the Ministry of Education but is one of two young Batswana sponsored by his church, the Lutheran church of Botswana. In return for his six years at the university, he will help with the music for the church when he returns.  

Ofentse first fell in love with classical music when he heard the Festival Concert at the 1997 Maitisong Festival. There was a massed choir singing LEISONG  by Gomolemo Motswaledi and other classical western pieces with orchestra. ‘That’s for me!’ he decided and resolved that his future was with classical singing. Now he is in Cape Town singing with Sally Presant who has also sung at Maitisong in the past. He has learnt the tough technique of classical singing and mastered it well. He has also been learning as much of the repertoire as he can so that he will be able to market himself as an oratorio soloist or recitalist. While in Cape Town he has sung at the Kirstenbosch Festival and in schools and churches. Singing is a powerful passion for Batswana and increasingly young Batswana are taking on the rigorous training needed to make their voices blossom into fine instruments. And increasingly they are finding life in classical music - what one newspaper writer recently called ‘dead music’. Ofentse was quite offended by that and wondered whether the writer would have said the same of literature by dead writers like Shakespeare or Sol Plaatjie or of science by dead scientists like Newton and Einstein or of philosophy by dead philosophers like Martin Luther King or Seretse Khama. Who knows?


When the Maru a Pula play, BETWEEN THE RIVER AND THE ROCKS, was performed last year it was much praised. The story was good, the production was lively and the costumes and scenery was beautiful. It was the sort of play and production that should be seen more widely, especially in Botswana. Everyone concerned felt that it should tour. That needed money. In order to raise funds the play was once more performed before an invited audience. It was successful; but then came the question: what next? Now the hard part comes: following up and trying to get enough money to take the thirty or so actors on tour. They need money for transport and for food.


Tears of joy will flow as the long-awaited CD by the Maru a Pula Marimba Band dances into the market. At last, all those people who have been asking at the office where they can get a recording of marimba music need ask no further! The MaP Marimba Band is one of the very best in the country and the music they play is sophisticated, catchy and authentic. Not for them the cheap ‘tourist’ music. This is marimba music of quality and music rooted in the African culture.  Many of the tunes the Map Marimbas have made well-loved are on the CD: “NDINILILA” (Tears of Joy), “RANCHERA”, “RRE PORQUI” (the fishy one), “AMAXOXO” (frogs), “RUGARE 1 & 2” and “KANA CHODA” (when it feels like it). Some are happy, some

sad, some catchy, some with throbbing bass line, most with weaving cross-rhythms.

The band has been touring to South Africa, the U.S.A. and Brazil. Wherever they go they cause a stir.

“TEARS OF JOY” is on sale at Maitisong for only P80


It’s almost finished now and the changes and additions to the backstage are looking good. The Festival will be able to make use of the much improved facilities. Downstairs we now have two change rooms with showers and a large storeroom (a contradiction, I know: no storeroom is large enough). Upstairs there are now three rooms with access by an external staircase. Two smaller rooms will be music teaching rooms and the third central space is larger: useful as a rehearsal space, a place to gather before gong on stage or even a performance space.

And to go with all this is a new main curtain on the stage designed by Ann Gollifer and made by Design Afrika. The new wooden floor is here and ballet mats are on order. So we should be able to entice the dance companies back!



You have in your hand a publication that costs us about P1000 per issue to produce - and that’s only 1 of 11 we produce each year. We are glad that you have it as we like to keep in touch with you. 

We would like it even more if you paid your part so that the cost does not take money away from shows we could bring to you. 

Please send us P50 to P.Bag 0045, Gaborone


These people flagrantly disregarded the instruction not to read  the box and, having read it, sent the Newsletter their subs for 2002! 

We are very grateful to them!
 Mr & Mrs G. WALIA

  Last Updated: March 2002

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