Botswana Craft is the home of authentic music. This authentic music is what jazz is! It’s this connection these musicians make when they are so good at their craft that they are released from reality and invite us to come along. It’s what happens when you listen to matured and legendary jazz musicians like Oliver Mtukudzi fused with contemporary sounds of Sereetsi & the Natives.
The past Friday was truly an enjoyable night of jazz. Botswana’s freshest and pristine band, Sereetsi & the Natives fronted by former scribe and lead singer, Tomeletso Sereetsi continue to amass a huge following.
Fresh from their maiden USA Tour, Chicago, to be precise, where they serenaded American masses with their rich pleasant-sounding talent; the “Thaakokome” hitmakers continue to enthrall many with their symphonic sound.
Sereetsi’s vocal range ran as high and as low as a glissando, and he was quite frequently note-jumping from one end of that range to the other. He is a vocal incubus, luring you in to a syllable on a note only to slide it into a warble and severely elongate the ending consonant before sharply snapping it off.
As Sereetsi’s set progressed, he wandered from one song into the next, in a seemingly random fashion. But, at each turn, there was a beat connecting the songs, like a river flowing through different, strong landscapes.
By the end, Sereetsi’s voice and body gyrations transformed into something almost primal, and he left many in the audience dancing and in the lines against the walls along which they stood.
Then, it was over to hear the much-acclaimed Oliver Mtukudzi in a sold-out show at Botswana Craft. Affectionately known as Tuku, the 64-year-old Zimbabwean musician, businessman, philanthropist, human rights activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Southern Africa, took to the stage, ready to croon his Botswana fans and possibly steal the show.
The old man did not disappoint as his raw energy and command of the beat whipped the audience into an absolute frenzy. There was no doubt that this man is considered Zimbabwe’s most renowned and internationally recognized cultural icon of all time.
Let’s just say Botswana Craft has firmly implanted itself as the most trusted home of matured albeit contemporary sounds thanks to its consistent Mascom Live sessions musical chapters. This was evident this past Friday night when, as already alluded above, Zimbabwean acclaimed jazz maestro, Oliver Mtukuzi and Botswana’s trendy folklore band Sereetsi and the Natives left revelers begging for more in a sold out affair.
The animated crowd sang along to almost every song the two musicians warbled. My jaw dropped and I was truly humbled when the excited crowd intoned along to Tuku’s famous tune, “Neria”- a sound track to perhaps Africa’s most widely known film, Neria; which portrays the problems African women face when widowed.
The night was capped off by a House music set from Robbie Rob who gave revelers a good night and one for the road thanks to an urban inspired mix.
The Zimbabwean compatriot is also one of the masterminds behind the popular Mascom Live Sessions. I had copious amounts of fun and I’d surely come back for more sessions in future. Below are some of the talking points from the show…
Security & Accessibility
Botswana Craft Management deserves a part on the back for organizing and managing the parking lot. Despite the venue being a tad too small; they have and continue to engage visible security personnel who throughout the entire duration of their shows take care of patrons’ vehicles which park outside alongside the Western-by-pass and in between the purlieu of the Industrial area.
Being a relatively small and intimate venue, tickets are usually limited and are sold on a first-come-first-served (FCFS) basis. However, that being said, some people have seen a glaring opportunity to profit. Yours Truly noted with concern that early bird ticket buyers tend to buy in bulk and sell extras on the day of the event at incredibly exorbitant prices to those who are desperately in need. #Botswanaunplugged was shocked to see some patrons paying double the price for a ticket. Even more annoying is the fact that some of these underhand sales agents happen to be security personnel and if this is not nipped in the bud, it could seriously breed dangerous business transactions.
Kudos to Botswana Craft for always starting and ending their shows on time! The organisers here do not suffer from ‘African Time’ syndrome and if the show is slated to start at 8pm, trust me it will surely start at that time. Everything is done according to the book, and for that we say big up!