GABORONE, BOTSWANA – Oscar Bonginkosi Mdlongwa, popularly known by his stage moniker, Oskido, is a South African recording artist, DJ, record producer and businessman at Kalawa Jazmee Record label, with a decorated music career spanning almost three decades (29 years).
Aged 51 years old, Oskido was recently in the country at the behest of Botswana’s hottest youth radio station, Yarona FM 106.6 who hosted an Artist Workshop this past Friday at Masa Square Hotel ahead of their annual music awards (#YAMAs) which took place this Saturday at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC) hosted by yet another renowned South African personality, Bonang Matheba alongside Andre Loungo Pitse.
His invitation into the country recently by Yarona FM to instil a sense of hope into Botswana’s fledging music industry and its players courtesy of his vast knowledge and experience was spot on, being a true music ambassador and champion who has been active since 1989, and there’s no denying the impact that he’s had on the DJ community the world over.
Oskido has been a hard-working DJ since the late 1980s, and shows no signs of slowing down. He still tours all over the place, gives great interviews talking about the state of music and DJing, and even has several renowned artists under his stable, who continue to produce hit after hit every year.
Quite befitting about Oskido is that he has always carried Botswana’s music industry over his shoulders despite the known burdens of ours being a small country with a mere population of 2.2 million, less industrious and over and above that, a country prone with individualistic culture.
There are several other international artists and renowned figures across the world that have over the years helped Botswana’s music and creative industry attain meaningful recognition, and Oskido is one of them. Without taking anything away from Oskido’s omnipotence, we all known of the late Cebo Manyaapelo – Motsweding FM’s celebrated radio presenter who contributed significantly to the successes of Botswana’s traditional music group, Culture Spears.
Manyaapelo relentlessly and widely spread the Botswana traditional music genre in South Africa and eventually got them the coveted spot to perform at the Embassy Mission in France where South Africa’s Springbok team popularly known as Springboks, Bokke or Amabokoboko won the Rugby World Cup.
All this happened in 2007 after the late Manyaapelo was recognized and honoured by the Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) Music Awards for his immense contribution to the growth of Botswana’s traditional music genre as he widely played it in his popular breakfast show on Motsweding FM dubbed ‘Re tla dula re thabile’.
Besides Manyaapelo, another renowned musical figure who has paved the way for Botswana’s music industry is Oskido. This revelation came at last Friday’s Artist Workshop hosted by Yarona FM and powered by First National Bank of Botswana (FNBB), featuring the legendary Oskido and directed by the station’s executive chairman, Dumi Lopang.
According to Lopang, the duo’s friendship dates back as far as his tertiary school days at the University of Cape Town (UCT) circa 1997, where Lopang and his cronies, namely Moatlhodi Lekaukau and the late Mathata Gasennelwe organized a flopped gig featuring Oskido.
“We had organized this gig to supplement our sustenance by making extra cash on the side. However, it flopped dismally. However, at the time Oskido understood that we were still amateurs in the game and subsequently offered to do a free show for us to redeem ourselves and we never looked back as in 1999 Yarona FM was established,” said Lopang.
Oskido came to Botswana in the late 80s to bring believe to Botswana born artists that music can become or is the universal language. Prior to his welcome in the landlocked country, he met with yet another Botswana music export, David Molosi AKA Daddy SKI who stayed with him at his Johannesburg residence.
It was then Molosi who invited Oskido to Botswana to start regular gigs in Gaborone and later Francistown as a first start to bring Botswana talent to South Africa which was Molosi’s mission.
“I always wanted to be a different artist. I have done a lot of things, met different people whilst doing music. I remember vividly when my friend, David Molosi AKA Daddy SKI came to RSA with a lot of enthusiasm, his dream being to change and elevate the music scene in Botswana. We used to stay together in Johannesburg at my house and we lived music and later started playing in Gaborone in the early 90s now and I was observant of one regular attendee at our events. It was in Francistown when this young boy approached and begged to have a set at one of our gigs in Francistown, and he was well prepared as he carried with him his disc bag.
This young boy was Thato Sikwane alias DJ Fresh, today I look at him and I’m amazed at what he has done in the last 25 years of his career. It’s a humbling tale to share,” said Oskido.
Though pundits can argue that DJ Fresh is the only revered name from Botswana that later shined after interacting with Oskido in his formative years, the Brits-born has also contributed immensely to big industry names such as Black Coffee, DJ Tira, Mafikizolo, Boom Shaka, Bongo Maffin, just mention but a few.
“People often ask me, are you not scared that all these artists that you have built their career will soon surpass you by wealth and relevance, I say to them God opens more doors for you when you help others. That’s my mantra, in a typical ‘You give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime.’ – (Chinese proverb.) .It has always been my dream.
I look at Black Coffee now for example, and I take courage from that; one day I was sitting at home and I heard a knock at the door and there comes a small boy who was pleading that he has looked everywhere to establish his DJing career to no avail, and I said to myself, I am the only one who can help him, and true to that, just like DJ Fresh I put my energy to that and look at him now,” Oskido added.
Quizzed about the current industry pricing standards and how one can maximize profits as an artist, Oskido encouraged artists to fully understand their value and current market price. However, he also advised them to look carefully on how they offer their services as the industry is extremely cutthroat.
“Personally I no longer get much bookings because my charges are hectic. I am extremely expensive, however whenever a deal comes which is lower than what I charge, I look at my schedule and instead of just sitting home and doing nothing I take it. You will find that a gig can only afford to pay you P5, 000 whilst your rate is P20 000 and you are free on that day, what do you do? Go for it and grab the money because for me I say, there is someone out there who get this amount of money over a month’s period having toiled and toiled for hours, early morning until evening. I always look at it this way, like I’m only go in for a few hours, doing what I love, and tomorrow I’ll be P5, 000 richer. That’s solely why I can never be broke,” said Oskido.
Known for his non grooming regimen and his incessant appetite for always rocking casual wear, track pants and T-shirt even in board rooms, Oskido told the audience that he’s not threatened by the corporate world as many of them looked and still look up to him for leadership. “My dress code means nothing to the services I propose, In fact, I have negotiated a multimillion Rand deal for Cassper Nyovest whilst rocking shorts and flops. The deal made sure his caller tunes became number one in the country,” added Oskido.
Meanwhile, Oskido noted that his stable dubbed Kalawa Jazmee record label is open for Botswana artists to bring their work for reviewing and perhaps land them a lucrative deal. The high-riding Han-C of ‘Rejection’ fame is may probably be the first artist to work with Oskido as the legendary DJ and producer asked the audience who the current biggest artist in Botswana was right now, whilst holding and waving Han C’s album sleeve.
The Mahalapye born muso is gradually getting recognition in RSA as Prince Kaybee has also expressed nothing but love and confidence about his work. Still at the same gathering, David Molosi, popularly known Skizo called on local musicians and artists to work together as one formidable force, and do away with their individualistic cultures.
“The biggest problem I see now is that you guys don’t want to work together. The only time you see our artists working is when they are friends and the work is always inferior hence why such collaborations always fail to bank,” said SKI. The artist workshop was sponsored by FNBB who also gave artists insights around financial literacy.