Maitisong Festival 2015: Interview with Donald Molosi

“Africa does not tell her stories enough. The fact that this one man who saved the lives of millions of Africans is largely unknown is a problem. I tell this story now because it does not exist in the stories we tell of Africans solving their own problems…”

The Maitisong Festival 2015 is an arts and culture extravaganza that’s taking Gaborone by storm for the rest of this week (22nd – 26th April). Among the amazingly talented performing acts is the unstoppable Donald Molosi who leads a stellar cast in the production of his award winning play Today It’s Me on the 25th. We were lucky enough to steal Donald away from his hectic schedule for a little chit-chat. Enjoy!

Donald Molosi's TODAY IT'S ME hits Gaborone

Tell us about your participation in the Maitisong 2015 festival? How did you get involved? Was it a contest, special selection?

I am elated to be performing at the Maitisong Festival 2015 as a headline act. I submitted my work like any artist and then the Director later informed me that they would be leading the theatre aspect of the festival with my show, Today It’s Me.

How has the public’s reacted to the festival?

The public loves this festival and its staying power 30 years later stands as testament to that. Batswana love seeing many different arts in one place so Maitisong festival provides exactly that. In a way, my show Today It’s Me is a microcosm of the festival in that my show has movement, dance, theatre, acting and live music.

You’ll be performing your award winning play Today It’s Me on the 25th of April, tell us about it.

Today It’s Me is a biographical story I wrote about Philly Lutaaya, the first prominent African to declare that he was living with AIDS. The play explores his courage, musical legacy and struggle from a humanist angle that leaves the audience very inspired and encouraged.

Why this play? What informed its choice for this festival?

Africa does not tell her stories enough. The fact that this one man who saved the lives of millions of Africans is largely unknown is a problem. I tell this story now because it does not exist in the stories we tell of Africans solving their own problems without the problematic intervention of the West. I have not performed in Botswana since three years ago when I performed Sir Seretse Khama’s story so this is an opportunity for me to show what else I can do.

How challenging has it been embodying Philly Lutaaya?

This is so far the hardest role I have taken on. I had to learn Luganda, both language and culture, and also do research in languages I did not know before. I spent years looking through photographs of his, listening to and dissecting his music, speaking with his family and truly beginning to embody him before I wrote the play. It has been a wonderful 5 year journey with his story so far and I look forward to it getting out more.

Molosi Maiti (2a)

In performance actors always seek to reveal layers of truth about their characters. Is the pressure to do this amplified when the character is a historical figure?

Pressure is not what I call it. I just call it basic work. Every character must be given the privilege to exist off-stage so that whatever you perform is a slice of a full life. With real historical characters, that work is even more crucial because you are more consciously creating an oral or performative archive about a people’s story. I enjoy every bit of it and it makes me a better human being to know so intimately the legends on whose shoulders we all stand on.

Your body of work reveals an affinity for historical African figures in your dramaturgy, and we must say it is always brilliant to see someone representing an aspect of the African continent that doesn’t get enough mainstream exposure. How has this focus on historical figures affected you as an artist and an African?

Thank you for seeing value in my obsession with African history and having it color my acting work. Too many Africans self-hate without realizing and those are the ones who ignorantly ask me why I tell African stories. So, it is refreshing and encouraging to hear you call my choice “brilliant.” Through my niche I have created a unique identity for myself in Hollywood, Broadway and at home in Botswana. I am a brand that is lucidly understood because the thread of African history runs through all my work. As a human being I have evolved a lot from learning about our communal human ancestors and seeking to live my life in honor of their efforts that in the 21st century I can be on Broadway telling an African story.

How impactful are events like the Maitisong festival on Botswana’s arts and culture scene? Would you say they demonstrate the economic potential of arts and culture in Africa?

Maitisong unites artists that ordinarily don’t cross paths so the networking aspect of the festival must be stated. It is a hub of activity that university students can use for internships and the like, so the festival goes beyond just thrilling audiences. It takes its social responsibility seriously as a gateway to international arts markets. Maitisong does not demonstrate our potential. Rather, it demonstrates our excellence in its fullest glory. I am past the days of celebrating potential and I celebrate excellence because excellent is what I want to always be.

Molosi Maiti (10)

The festival is only a few days away and preparing for it must have been a challenging but exciting journey. What has left the biggest imprint on you, thus far?

I have been fortunate to be working with amazing actors. I will always be grateful to be in such good company and to perform alongside Kgomotso Tshwenyego and Donn Swaby, both of them international actors of note. I am truly grateful and inspired especially that I am doing what I think is the hardest role of my acting life!

Molosi Maiti (6a)

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Beautiful Faces: Memories from Lagos 2013 Carnival:

Photographer Timothy Aideloje caught some of the beautiful faces from the carnival crazy crowd in Lagos. Check out some of these priceless smiles. All photos courtesy Timothy Aideloje (@jtimidal).

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Vcity Media

Our friends at Victoria Holdings Media are looking for creative minds to work with. It just may be something that catches your fancy. Check it out:

VictoriaH Media

VictoriaH Media is a social platform that connects continents. We share news on events and creative works from different parts of the world. We invite you to be a part of our multicultural website.

Our aim is to create a social platform for the world to share information from a range of perspectives to encourage varied exploration and promotion of culture.

We are looking for interns, content providers and talented guest contributors who are passionate about culture, literature, fashion, entertainment, travel, food, and lifestyle. Entries from all continents are welcome.

There’s a place for everyone… Whether you are a poet, playwright, gymnast or just a passionate writer. Send us your work and we’ll put it in the right category.

Here are a few suggestions

Culture: cultural awareness from different parts of the world. This covers cultural practices, festivals, history and dance, to name a few.

Entertainment: entertainment news is one of the catchiest subjects in the world. Let us know who the best artists are in your country and why. From time to time we will profile celebs from all over the world.

Food: food is loved by many. We’d love to know what you think about food, recipes and world food culture

Literature: prose, plays, love letters, odes. You can also share your art work for public interpretation… Or send in your own interpretation.

Fashion: Tell us about fashion in your country. Best shopping spots, dress code and fashion tip. We are also happy to profile upcoming fashion designers.

Beauty: Send us beauty tips, traditional products and their uses. Tell us what you think about the word beauty.

Photography: Tell your story with photography. Share fascinating photos from all over the world.

People: This section covers life and wellbeing. Travel tips, Relationships, legal advice, discussions and more.

Vcity TV: Make shows of all of the above and we’ll air it.

Please contact us if you’re interested in possible contribution or internship by sending your entries or CV to victoria_city@ymail.com

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Calabar Carnival Photos

The photo experience of a communal celebration through the lens of photographer Paul Gimba

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When African drums boom we can’t help but move. (Photo by Paul Gimba)

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Can you move like Africans move? (Photo by Paul Gimba)

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Carnival in Calabar or carnival on Mars. (Photo by Paul Gimba)

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Pride of Benin

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Little African angels. (Photo by Paul Gimba)

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Wickedly winding waists. (Photo by Paul Gimba)

Black, white and spectacular. (Photo by Paul Gimba)

Black, white and spectacular. (Photo by Paul Gimba)

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Carnival is… colour. Colour. Colour. (Photo by Paul Gimba)

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Alice would feel right at home in Calabar Wonderland. (Photo by Paul Gimba)

Carnival flower

The blazing petals of celebration. (Photo by Paul Gimba)

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Madame of the dance. (Photo by Paul Gimba)

African dancer

Dance, lady! Dance! (Photo by Paul Gimba)

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Gongs of glory (Photo by Paul Gimba)

Carnival spectacle

An experience capped off with spectacle. (Photo by Paul Gimba)

Neo-traditional African Architecture at NAFEST 2012 (interiors)

To wrap up 2012 we have delightful pictures of modern design traditional African architecture as displayed at the 2012 National Festival (NAFEST) in Nigeria. All photos taken by Africa Ukoh.

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Akwa Ibom state

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Akwa Ibom state

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Rivers state

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Rivers state

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Rivers state

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Osun state

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Osun state

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Osun state

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Osun state

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Osun state

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Niger state

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Niger state

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Niger state

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Niger state

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Kano state

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Kano state

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Kano state

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Kano state

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Nasarrawa state

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Nasarrawa state

Recommended (Highly)

Category: Literature

Title: Death and the King’s Horseman

Sub categories: African literature, drama, theatre

Author: Wole Soyinka

About: District Officer Pilkings has a habit of sticking his nose in where it has no business, but then again so do most colonial masters. District Officer Pilkings, however, should know better than to stick his nose in the business of sacred traditional African rites. Customs demand that upon the death of Oba, the Horseman to the King must proudly end his earthly life and join his master in the life after. Elesin Oba is a proud man from a proud lineage who is unwavering in his belief and practice of his proud tradition. On what is to be his final day as a man Elesin Oba looks forward, with pride, to facing death. But District Officer Pilkings, he has a habit of sticking his nose in where it has no business.

Thoughts: from the legend himself, this play exudes grandeur from cover to cover (and even some classic cockiness in the foreword from the author). Endeavour to look beyond the obvious conflict and you will find a deeper core conflict that expresses the raging battles of man with man, life, death, culture, mysticism, and the beyond.

Abuja Carnival 2012 in pictures

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Legend tells of a time when man stood hundreds of feet tall from the ground. This fellow must’ve been one of the shorter ones.

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A river of blue dancers for the rhythmic adventurer to swim in.

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It’s lots of fun at carnivals, but it’s also lots of walking. Good thing there are lots of sights and sounds around to make it beautiful experience.

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Wonder what species of butterfly he is?

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The Hunchback of Gwarimpa. Parties with the people by day, eats them at night.

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You have to love a woman with curves who loves to dance.

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Traditional African arts and culture has that mystery about it which is eternally captivating. Especially when placed in a modern environment.