Botswana’s Afro-jazz star dies

The well-known local musician passed away last week due to what is believed to have been a stroke. He was not married but is survived by four children. Born in Tsetsetjwe, the late musician made a mark in the country with his fantastic Afro-jazz tunes that appealed to many. Amongst many of his musical achievements, Senyatso appeared at last year’s Greenbelt festival, the world’s largest Christian Arts and Music festival that takes place annually in Scotland. It started in 1974 and has grown to attract many mainstream musicians including U2, Cliff Richard, Steve Taylor, and Bruce Cockbun. During the festival, Senyatso impressed with selections from his collection of albums ranging from Mephato ya Maloba; Whither Africa; and Kgeleke tsa pina. Senyatso’s Afro-jazz verses inspired him to present to the listener the Tswana traditional jazz-fusion which reflected every day life in Botswana. He was proactive in urging upcoming artists to venture into Setswana music in celebration of our musical heritage. Having once been a lead singer with Botswana’s most popular group, the Kgwanyape Band, Senyatso had once opened for UB40, Eric Clapton and Paul Simon. Before his untimely death he was billed to perform both at the Jazz Brew in Mochudi last Saturday alongside South African jazz giant, Louis Mhlanga and Ndingo Johwa, and also at the Millennium Jazz Restaurant on Sunday alongside another local Afro-jazz musician, Socca Moruakgomo. His death comes as a blow to the great Botswana music industry. SA model for Nokia Face of Africa South Africa’s 21-year-old aspiring model Melody Zulu from Durban was named Nokia Face of Africa 2006 semi-finalist at a casting session held in the country recently. Hopeful models from as far as Zimbabwe lined up for their chance to see casting judges Andiswa Manxiwa and Vicky Cursham. But it was Melody who won the judges approval and secured her place in the next round of competition. She will now jet off to Botswana in June to participate in the first Nokia Face of Africa “model bootcamp” selection session. The second one will take place in Cape Town. She will be joining other semi-finalists from the rest of Africa who are also competing for a place as a Top Ten finalist. These Top Ten finalists will then take to the catwalk at Sun City on 13 August where the winner will be announced. This year’s revised competition format means that any young woman from sub-Saharan Africa, who is a citizen of a country in sub-Saharan Africa, and who meets the entry requirements can participate in a casting in any of the 12 casting cities. Entry requirements state that entrants must be between the ages of 16 and 24 (as at August 2006), must be at least 1.74m tall and must have a maximum hip measurement of 36 inches. This year, as with last season, the prize of a modeling contract is again on offer. During the 12-city visit, the scouting team will select its Nokia Face of Africa 2006 semi-finalists. Some of these semi-finalists will be announced just after the scouting judges leave their country whilst others will have to wait until April to discover if they have qualified as semi-finalists. Once selected, the semi-finalists will then travel to two different locations for two rigorous ‘bootcamp’ selection sessions. Thereafter, only the top ten finalists will proceed to the Nokia Face of Africa 2006 Final, to be held in August this year at Sun City in Johannesburg. Previous winners of the title include Oluchi Onweagba (Nigeria), Benvinda Mudenge (Namibia), Nombulelo Mazibuko (South Africa) and Ramatoulaye Diallo (Senegal). Jazz dominates Samas Jazz music dominated the recently held South African Music Awards (Samas) with most artists from this genre walking away with at Sun City last night. Kwaito and Afropop had for a long time took centre stage in the awards but tables turned this year. Judith Sephuma became the undisputed star of the evening when her latest album, New Beginnings, scooped three awards. New Beginnings, Sephuma’s second album, won the Best Female Artist, Best Producer and Best Engineer awards. She warded off stiff competition from diva Sibongile Khumalo, dance queen Lebo Mathosa and gospel star Rebecca Malope for the Best Female Artist award. Another Jazz veteran Jimmy Dludlu scooped the Best Male Artist and Best Jazz Album awards for his album Corners of My Soul. Afro-pop singer Ntando won the prestigious Samas Song of the Year category for his hit Dali Wami. Bongo Maffin’s latest album, New Construction, which was released last November, won the Best Group Award beating Malaika, Joyous Celebration and twin DJs Revolution. In the tightly contested Best Rock Album category, The Parlotones overcame Karen Zoid, US-based group Seether and Arno Carstens. Newcomer Brickz ‘ whose song Sweety My Baby is one of the year’s biggest hits so far ‘ beat seasoned campaigners Thebe, Zola and Spikiri for the Best Kwaito Album. He was also voted the Best Newcomer. In the Best Rap Album category, dark horse Tuks beat favourites Pro Kid and Hip Hop Pantsula for his album Mafoko A Me. Socialite Joe Correira, music greats Rex Rabanye, Thandi Klaasen, Al Debbo and local rock legend, the late Piet Botha, were all given lifetime achievement awards.

May 2006
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