Turning 50 years is no joke as recounted by a man legendarily known as Monnamogolo (a moniker he’s given himself unperturbed by the spiraling years on his life) to his ever-growing platoon of followers. Monnamogolo is a Setswana vernacular for ‘Old Man’. Commonly, as an ‘old man’ one would have seen it all; done it all and perchance gotten ‘shit’ on.Perhaps also, one would probably have inadvertently bruised a few egos both petulantly and imperturbably through his soi-disant prudence. Quite emblematic is our subject; Sidney Baitsile popularly known as DJ Sid or Monnamogolo; a well-rounded entertainer of sang-froid. Firstly, he’s a legendary radio personality rich in all aspects of Botswana’s Amplitude Modulation (AM) and Frequency Modulation (FM) continuums. He’s a man who brazenly shunned two scholarly careers for a thankless radio and music vocation; firstly at the University of Botswana (UB) where he was offered to join the Sociology Department, and secondly at the National Health Institute (NHI); where he was tasked to start a new department called Medical Sociology.
Don’t be fooled by his happy-go-lucky demeanor, DJ Sid holds a Sociology Degree (the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society/or simply put; the study of social problems).
Secondly, DJ Sid is an obstinate and vociferous activist for Botswana music and all things entertainment.
He’s often repulsed by the way things are done in the country (musically-speaking) and from time to time he’d take up his unwavering pangs with the relevant authorities albeit with little or no recourse.
Away from his vehemently charged Botswana music viewpoints and ambitions; he’s an easy-going chap who is just as passionate about this country as many of us out there, and even more importantly that he was born in the same year (1966) when Botswana attained its Independence from Colonial rule.
The distinguished former radio personality turned 50 years last week, January 12th to be precise, and we would have shot ourselves directly in the gonads; should we have missed out on the opportunity to celebrate such an illustrious life.
It was indeed one hell of a career.
Here, DJ Sid talks radio, music, heroes and humility-and how he keeps himself busy.
Congratulations mate! You’ve just turned 50, what does this mean and would there be any mean changes to your current lifestyle?
Ha-ha! Thank you. It’s a major milestone! Let’s just say, it’s a reminder that “malatsi a tsamaile”. I am looking at changing a few things in my regime; paying close attention to my health, such as eating healthy combined with vigorous exercise. I also want to get married before I reach 52. Ha-ha; that’s in two years! I am going to pay close attention to that too. Career-wise, I want to attempt a big Club DJ comeback to help push Botswana music from its current lackluster status. Please be mindful that my coming back to the Club DJ scene is not to compete with the youngsters as I believe they’re more talented and it’s also their ‘time to eat’, but I want to inspire them into playing Botswana music. I am going to try and use my influence and name to get into major shows to play BW music so that upcoming DJs can follow suit.
Seeing you I’m reminded of yet another entertainer and RSA kwaito artist, house producer, Kalawa Jazmee director, Trompies member, DJ and all-around cool guy, DJ Mahoota who turned 50 recently and threw a massive birthday bash. Hint-hint?
I’m just fortunate that I am the same age as the country, so I am going to treat this year as a birthday for me right up to December 31st. My friends want to throw a party for me in Gaborone on February 13th. I will do several gigs too throughout the year to celebrate both my birthday and that of the country, including Tsabong where I’m currently based.
Speaking of Mahoota, have you interacted with him as an entertainer in the past?
Unfortunately never! The only time I ever got close to him was at RB2 in the 90s when they visited the station prior to their gig. Other than that, I have never seen him again live. He’s such a talented fellow, but it appears he has now run out of steam as the younger guys have come up and eclipsed him.
50 is such a big number, please share with us your secrets of reaching such a milestone?
I come from a family that has always lived longer. Two of my grandparents lived over 90 years and their third-born is still alive aged 89. I believe it is more in the genes than anything else. Other than that, I believe my lifestyle has immensely contributed. I mostly eat healthy. I don’t drink and I don’t smoke. I also don’t party until the wee hours of the morning either. A dose of regular sex life; safe sex life also does the trick. Ha-ha!
Such a lucky bugger! You were born in 1966, the year in which our country, Botswana attained Independence. How does this make you feel?
It’s a special feeling that one can only get when they were born in that year. You literally feel like a special kid, a demigod of sorts. It’s bloody awesome, and no words can express this feeling. I wish I could get to 100 years now and I will do anything to get there!
Do you ever wish you could have been born earlier or later; please explain…
I never wish to have been born any other time except 1966. At times I wish it could have been right on the day; September 30th as it would have been wow! But I’m still proud of being born on January 12th 1966.
You are quite an advocate for Botswana music and the creative arts in general. When did all this start and when will you say enough is enough?
Many people think I only started promoting Botswana music after the turn of the century when I started that column (Big Weekend) at The Voice newspaper with the late Kagiso Mmui (May His Soul Rest In Peace) which we ultimately did together (DJ Sid and Rudeboy Necta) after his untimely passing. Let’s just say I started this advocacy towards the mid-90s when I was at RB2. The birth of groups such as Third Mind and Wizards of the Desert was influenced by my unrelenting push for Botswana music.
At the time, there was literally very little modern day electronic Botswana music. If I recall well, we only had Soccer Moruakgomo’s first album and that of Kgwanyape and BDF bands. The rest was folklore music that had been recorded in the 70s and 80s and was not part of the RB2 sound or format. RB2 was positioned as an urban youth radio station and you would imagine how hard and frustrating it was to represent Botswana with no music at all. Sometime in the mid-90s; Tribal Monks, Lords of The Ghetto, Third Mind and Brown Sugar released their albums. These groups were regular in my playlist. Fast forward to 2016, we are now spoilt for choice with an abundance of good Botswana music. Just recently, RB2 easily did a Top 40 Countdown featuring only Botswana music and I was extremely impressed. In my opinion, we should easily be playing 50% of Botswana music across all independent commercial radio stations in the country, 70% on RB2 and 100% on RB1. I would be happy if say, by the year 2020, all radio stations in Botswana played at least 70% of Botswana music.
Interesting! Please take us down memory lane, your radio days?
Wow! What a journey. I arrived back from school in Botswana on December 30th 1991. In January 1992, I approached Radio Botswana three times looking to join it. I was rejected outright without even an interview. I gave up and got offered two jobs; one at UB by Professor Fako to join the Sociology Department and one at NHI to start a new department called Medical Sociology (I hold a Sociology Degree). I picked the NHI one, but it was never to be. Two weeks before I was supposed to start work, an advert came out; saying RB2, the new and inaugural station was looking for presenters. This time around I was accepted right away and given the coveted Breakfast Show. I abandoned the NHI job. I spent 7 years at RB2 from 1992-1999 during which I served as the Breakfast Show host for five (5) years running as well as an Afternoon Drive-Time host for two (2) years. I also served as an Assistant Programmes Manager and Programmes Manager respectively. My highlight at the radio station was my fast-paced Breakfast Show; which was primarily driven by music, especially on Friday morning. This is the one and only show in the country that made House music mainstream. Discovering, unearthing and nurturing talent at the station was also my cup of tea with the likes of DJ Fresh, Slick Rick, Shakes-The-Mix, Solo B, Owen Rampha, Ndiye Letholathebe, Amelia Malebane, Gloria Kgosi, Osego Garebamono, Shombie Ellis, Shima Monageng, Sammy-T, Obza, Lettie Gaelesiwe (MHSRIP); all who joined the station under my watchful eyes. The birth of Gabz FM in 2000 was partly my doing. I worked on the tender for the station with three other people and ultimately I joined the station as a Station Manager and discovered more talents in the likes of Tshepo Ntshole and also brought back Michael Dignash Morapedi to radio. He had previously had a stint at RB2 in 1992. I also brought along with me the likes of Owen, Solo B, Lettie, Bicasso and Osego to Gabz FM. However, due to some creative conflicts with the board chairman, I unfortunately left the station within two years’ time. After several years I joined Duma FM in 2010, but I was there only for one year too. For me it was a very fruitful year as I helped turn around the station. I have been out and away from the radio world since 2011.
Wow! Such legendary musings deserve a standing ovation. Please share with us the very first RB2 line-up and where each and everyone in that line-up are doing right now?
The line-up was as follows, please forgive me as I may have mixed up and left out one or two; but this is it to my sincere recollection:
0600-0800 DJ Sid
0800 -1000 Lesole Obonye
1000-1100 Monica Mphusu
0600-0800 Sidney Baitsile
1200-1300 David Ski Molosi
0600-0800 Kgosi Senne
0800-1000 Mike Klinck
Lesole Obonye is now the Director of the very same Department and back then he was my junior. Kana go raya gore if I had stayed longer and behaved; I could be the director now. Ha-ha!
I am not sure where Monica Mphusu is right now, but I feel she needs to come back to adult contemporary radio (ACR), as I strongly believe she would do wonders at Duma FM. Brass and Bicasso work in RSA now, but not on radio. Ski continues to produce music and is also businessman. Not sure where Kgosi is, Mike Klinck recently passed away last year. Dignash is a businessman and his voice can also be heard beaming on Duma FM very Friday afternoon.
At 50, one would have expected you to have at least four (4) children, married and stable in life; the ideal Botswana life expectation, any pressure?
I resisted the temptation to have kids primarily because of lack of financial stability. I have never in my life felt financially secure to a point where I felt I could support a family and kids; and that’s the truth. I have seen too many Tinto’s in my life. I just don’t want to be one of them. Let’s just say I am now concentrating on getting myself to that level. Kids and wife are in my short-term priority list right now. But I am not putting myself under any pressure.
So clearly this does signal your firm belief in marriage?
I do believe in marriage, but for the right reasons and only when it’s done between two people who completely understand one another and life in general. I don’t believe we were made and meant to get married. Human beings just evolved into that arrangement. We were meant to mate with as many of us as we possibly could! We really do have the same instincts as the animal kingdom, but because of our more and well-developed brains, we decided that monogamy should be the way through the marriage institution. But we all know it doesn’t work, hence why there is a spate of divorces due to both partners responding to the natural instinct of mating outside their marriage.
You are distinctively known as ‘uncle’ via social mediums especially Facebook where you regale your followers with your superficially insatiable appetite for ‘hot lil things’; and no I’m not green-eyed; Ha-ha! Please tell us more about this outlook…
I am a hot blooded male and we all are. I just don’t hide it like most of my male folks do. I believe in free love, being free-spirited, loving and living freely. I believe in going after things you like, be it women or men; but in a responsible and safe manner. We live only once and I want to enjoy life to the fullest and it includes socializing with women so long as we put the cards on the table and know what each of us want from one another in the relationship. I flirt quite a lot but some of the flirting does not necessarily ooze into intimacy. I am just a fun-loving person with no restrictions at all, except tsa safety and abuse.
And your fondness for the expression, TEMET!
I don’t recall when and how I started using this word. I just found myself using it more and more regularly to a point where it ended up in all of my Facebook statuses. Many people believe it is a swear word but I negate. I recently tried to register a company named Temmet Investments but the name was out rightly rejected. I am planning to take the matter up. For me, tota hela really, it is a ‘wow’ word.
What’s with the incessant passion for flip-flops throughout all seasons Rra?
Ha-ha! The flip-flops (diphathaphatha), wow! The truth is, I hate stinking shoes and I hate washing socks. I also hate washing diteki (sneakers) as my feet generally stink. Flip-flops were Heaven-sent and came to the rescue about 10 years ago and since then I haven’t looked back.
One would be eager to probe when and how did you start developing this IDCA (I-Don’t-Care-Attitude)?
It comes with age and when you finally realise that you can’t live your life through other people’s eyes, wishes and restrictions. I also like pushing boundaries and tolerance limits. I became free-spirited. I believe my years with you at The Voice newspaper played a big part in that as well; being free to express ourselves without fear or favour also gravitated me towards that free from care attitude.
And you have now relocated to your native home village, care to explain?
Ka Setswana, Tsabong is really not my native home village. My father was from Pilikwe and Serowe. If it was way back, Tsabong people would chase me away. It is my mother’s native home village, even though her real native village is in South Africa too. Anyway, I am here now, initially at the call of my mom to come and help her with her various business ventures. After losing my Duma FM job, I became a street kid in Gaborone, and life started to get a little difficult, hence I heeded my mother’s call as the only son to come back home. I was a little reluctant at first as I never thought village life was my style, especially one so far away from civilization and one so small with only less than 10 000 people. I soon discovered that there are so untapped opportunities here that could allow one to live life in both worlds. I am in the process of joining the dots and enjoying my life here to the fullest.
What exciting plans do you have for Tsabong?
I have a few ventures in tourism. I am very excited. I can’t reveal any of them at the moment. All I can say is that there are so many opportunities here and I took the whole of last year putting my ducks in a row, and this year will be mine to start implementing.
Life would be simpler if…
We thought out of the box and took advantage of the ample opportunities. If we just didn’t take ourselves too seriously, if we loved one another, if we helped one another, if we realized we only live once.
What’s your typical weekday?
Currently, I am just running a bar and helping manage my mom’s lodge. I sleep late because the bar closes at 10pm so I usually get up later than normal at around 8am, make sure everyone has reported for duty and that they are at their work stations at the lodge, do banking and then proceed to my bar to re-stock if I have to. During the day I run general errands and I am forever trying to sniff out the next big business opportunity in the village. The list now covers over two pages.
And your typical weekend?
Same routine on the weekend cos our business runs the same way 7-days a week, except on Sundays of course, which is more chilled.
What are your favourite out-of-town escapades?
Because of limited time out of work, I don’t do much of that. Also because of lack of uncommitted money, I don’t travel a lot, but I plan to do a bit of that once the money starts rolling in and I have a bit to spend and a bit of time off too.
Where do you enjoy shopping?
I hardly ever shop, except stocking my bar. I rarely buy clothes. I am still wearing T-shirts from the 90s. Ha-ha!
What superhuman power would you most like to have?
Having easy access to money and traveling the world.
Something that no one knows about me is…
I get angry very easily. However, I hardly ever show it because I am also very tolerant, which everyone knows about me, especially on social media.
My motto is…
If you want to succeed, dare to dream!
My simplest pleasure is…
My guiltiest pleasure is…
Cone ice cream.
The craziest fashion trend I have even followed is…
The afro hairstyle which happened in high school. We would relax our hair to see which one would be bigger. Ha-ha!
What celebrity crushes did you have as a teenager?
Bibi Lethola! Damn, she was smooth on radio. Yerrrr, her voice! She literally turned me on whenever she did her thing on air. At the time I was a boarding student at St. Joseph’s College in the early 80s! I met her years later and also worked with her and I still had a crush on her. Honestly, I still do. Ha-ha!
My biggest regret is…
In terms of my career, I don’t have any regrets because any regret would change the course of my life and I wouldn’t have had a mountain of great life experiences which I had. The closest thing I could regret is not trying my luck in South Africa when I had the chance in the mid-90s, but like I have already said, all the rich experiences I have had since then may never have been…..the only regret I have is not having a healthy relationship with my father from the time I came back from school in 1992 till his death two years ago, but that too was really out of my control in many ways.
Before I die, I’d like to…
I would like to see Batswana embracing BW music to the fullest; these include radio, clubs, parties etc. I dream to see that. I would like to see Tsabong get to the level of Maun level in the next 20 years, but most of all I want to have a wife and three kids.
What surprises you most about adult life?
Adults think, feel and act just like kids, nothing really changes except age. When growing up, adults were gods in my mind; the adage “age ain’t nothing but a number” is very true!
My proudest moment was…
Wow! I have had so many, especially in my career in radio and as a club DJ. However, the greatest was getting recognized by Yarona FM recently with an award for the work I have done over the years. All of a sudden, everyone is also doing likewise and showering me with accolades, and for that I thank the station immensely. It is great to be recognized whilst still alive.
Going slightly back, what made you decide to study whatever you studied?
I was a very good and high achieving student, not because I was really that intelligent, but because I worked harder than an average student. In our time when you passed very well, the expectation and the pressure put on you by society and family/parents was normally that you should either be a doctor, an engineer, a dentist or a lawyer. More than family/parents, society decided for me to do dentistry. I failed to qualify for a sponsorship for that but since in my mind I believed I had to be in the medical field, I chose Physiotherapy, which I did for three years in Washington DC, but it was in DC that my real love and passion for radio and club deejaying was pushed ahead of everything else. I then did Sociology just so I could come back home with a degree.
What’s been your worst-ever career disaster…
I tried Film Production with Bibi Lethola’s company in the mid-2000s. I then realized it was not my thing at all.
What’s been the biggest life lesson in your career?
Definitely, never to take anything for granted. You are as good as yesterday, and have to keep learning and going forward, if you want to survive and stay relevant. I have been very fortunate that I learnt that early in my career and that’s why I survived as long as I did, by continually re-inventing myself. Be good to people you work with, for you don’t know when and under what circumstances you will meet them again in the future.
Believe it or not, I don’t do restaurants at all. Maybe this is primarily because I don’t date. Ha-ha!
100% apple juice. I also used to love Oros until I developed peptic acids and I was advised to stop taking anything with citric acid. However, a sip of Amarula occasionally is great. Ha-ha!
Magnolia & Cherry Blossom, the air freshener I use! Ha-ha!
What’s your grooming regime?
I don’t have much, except shaving my face and down there regularly. Ha-ha! I don’t do any of the Ma-cat grooming.
I don’t wear jeans. I love Chinos….
Your favourite fashion designer?
None, never had one, except one who cut my suit when my friend DJ Juicy was getting married over a decade ago.
What are you listening to right now?
Sereetsi and The Natives; bloody super album. I take time to listen to Botswana music as much as I can.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing Botswana right now?
The obvious ones; water, power, corruption, poverty and a government that seemingly is failing to solve all these snags! I honestly believe it is time to change government, not necessarily because Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is doing wrong, but for checks and balances. We should get to the level of Western countries where governments change easily but the country stays stable; where governments know that complacency will lead to their ousting. BDP is way too comfortable, so for a long time it took Batswana for granted, it took its failures lightly, knowing that Batswana will still return it to power. That will change only if Batswana got it out of power.
Do you support any charities or NGOs?
None and I feel very guilty about that. It is one of the things I need to change this year. Ke go itsapa hela because supporting charities and NGOs does not really take that much.
What does it mean to be a Motswana?
Three words: A loving person!
What’s your message to Batswana, especially the youth?
Your destiny is in your hands, opportunities are not only in urban areas; take time to explore the country in search of diamonds and you will find them!