If the organisers of the just ended and epic music festival dubbed The Gaborone International Music & Culture Week (GIMC) had not been ingeniously original to ask Botswana’s uninitiated MCs to audition by sending them videos in pursuit of sharing the stage with the crazily talented Loungo Andre Pitse, Batswana would have continued to sleep on an amazing persona in Vuyelwa Qobo.
The 24-year-old self-acclaimed queen of stage hails from Lobatse and describes herself as “seriously in love with life”. Vuyelwa was part of the GIMC ladies MC’ing trio of Peelo Mookodi and Reagile Kopi who regaled the excited masses alongside, Lungo.
“I’m addicted to books and I live for entertainment. Entertaining people is like second nature to me. I don’t know how to be or do anything else,” said Vuyelwa this week and that’s just how free-spirited she is-and her name also attests to her buoyant state of joy.
Born to a Xhosa mom and a Swati dad, the varied cultural mix has nurtured Vuyelwa to be a culture-oriented and grounded person.
“I was born at Princess Marina hospital in Gaborone so despite my parents’ backgrounds, my citizenship was always automatic – a proud Motswana. Basically, I have experienced many cultures all at once! I wouldn’t have it any other way though because I appreciate being well-rounded in terms of who I am as an African.
I’m not just Xhosa nor Swati or just a Motswana – I am all of this and I have every right to be. My family really did a great job in teaching me to absorb every culture. I can speak multiple languages now and there’s nothing better than that. So to put it simply: I had a colourful but cultural childhood and upbringing,” a jolly Vuyelwa added.
“I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and an Honours (postgraduate) degree in Political Science. This was last year, May 2015. I went to North-West University – The Vaal Triangle Campus – about 50kms outside Johannesburg”.
Despite being thrown at the deep end to stage-manage a show of GIMC’s magnitude, one cannot rule out her outstanding shine. Born in Gaborone in the mid-90s, Vuyelwa has in the past presented and shared the stage with industry big names among them SABC 1’s Lunga Tshabalala of Selimathunzi fame.
“I haven’t done anything as big as GIMC in the past but I’ve definitely hosted shows before. I did a lot of ‘entertainment’ in University. I hosted my University’s pageant in 2014 alongside Lunga Tshabalala from Selimathunzi. I also hosted the University’s First Year’s Carnival in January 2015. I was also one of the first radio jockeys on the campus radio station when it started in mid-2013.
I started with an afternoon drive-time show and then moved to a breakfast time slot in early 2014, which I did until I completed my degree at the end of 2014. I have set musical stages alight before but GIMC this past weekend was extremely supreme.”
Quizzed if her stint in South Africa has helped shape her into becoming a better socialite and presenter, Vuyelwa was quick to dismiss the claim and argued that it is the burning passion within that drive her talents. She said every individual can become whatever they want to be no matter the circumstances only if they passionately give it their all.
“Entertainment is a vast industry that requires first and foremost – talent, passion and opportunity – so what you do with that has nothing to do with where you’ve been. Yes, I have been exposed to various things in RSA, which I will credit for parts of my knowledge – so in that context – yes.”
Furthermore, Vuyelwa added, “The radio industry has influenced me immensely. I’ve been fortunate to have been exposed to the very professional side of things. I did radio broadcasting at University level but we took it very seriously. Our radio station manager, Itumeleng Bahetane whom I also credit for my growth as a broadcaster, made sure we were well-rounded and ready for the real world of broadcasting so he never stopped teaching us and giving us pointers.
As a Communication scholar, my education has also played a pivotal role in how I turned out and who I strive to be as an entertainer. The South African entertainment industry has also shaped my way of thinking and I am so proud that the industry in Botswana is growing and getting bigger. Entertainment is a legit career, we have real dreams and they are valid – so I love how we’re going in the direction that seeks to put entertainers on the map.
The one thing I know about the entertainment industry is that things are ever evolving so you don’t stop reading, you don’t stop researching your field because you can never know enough. There’s always something new to learn in order to be better than you were yesterday.”
Quizzed about her working relationship with the other MCs namely Rea and Peelo, Vuyelwa described the experience as one that should certainly be repeated. “Working with Peelo and Rea was amazing. I had a great time with them. They are both very talented young women and I would choose working with them over and over again.”
With more than 13, 000 people at the national stadium on Saturday night, this was a certainly a defining moment for the Lobatse-based presenter cum MC. She admitted that at first she was overwhelmed by the massive numbers but it was her passion that ultimately set her free thus allowing her star to shine.
“I had no idea there would be so many people. I was so overwhelmed but also very excited to be able to entertain so many people. So my nerves were pretty chilled because the excitement took over. The experience was thrilling.”
Pressed on how her history in the making night at GIMC was made, Vuyelwa is still overwhelmed by the experience stating that it was her best ever!
“Oh, definitely all the love and support from the crowd! Honestly that for me meant I was doing the right thing. The crowd screaming and cheering was an affirmation that I did my job well. I would walk off the stage and have people come up to me and say I was part of the reason they were having so much fun and that’s what I was there to do – to entertain; and to be told you I was amazing was my Heaven.
There’s no better feeling than that. My other highlight was my interview on Yarona FM. That was awesome. Also, I had a lot of fun listening to DJ Sbi Techn’s set – he’s an electro dance music DJ and he really knows his stuff! Faded Gang also made my night! I love them! Of course Black Coffee and DJ Fresh came to slay, I loved their sets as well,” she concluded,
What is next after the epic GIMC gig we asked, and the curvaceous presenter said she destined to be on air.“Radio is my future; Yes! Of course! Absolutely! Being on radio is one of my favourite places to be. I quite enjoy that space and I am deeply passionate about it. So, hint-hint, nudge-nudge. Watch the space!”