By Bakang Mhaladi
Gaborone – Veteran musician, Oliver Mtukudzi was a rare second best during his annual Botswana Mascom Live Session on Friday, when he was upstaged by local kwasa kwasa artiste, Frank ‘Franco’ Lesokwane.
Mtukudzi is a fan favourite in Botswana and makes the annual ‘pilgrimage’ to Gaborone’s Botswana Craft for the Live Sessions. He is always the main draw card, with local artistes providing the supporting role.
However, on Friday night, in driving rain, Tuku, for the first time, found himself having to contend with fewer cheers compared to his Botswana counterpart, who was in his element.
Lesokwane, a veteran in his own right, has released 14 albums to date in a career spanning more than a decade. He showed he had lost none of his touch with a mix of old time favourites and new releases.
What appeared to be an appetiser to the main meal, in the end proved to be that night’s proverbial musical main course.
Franco had sufficiently warmed up the stage for the Zimbabwean to mesmerise the crowd, which disregarded the heavy down pour. But instead, it seems, Franco had pushed the decibels too far high for the loved Tuku.
Franco, performing at the Live Sessions for the first time, was easily at home and immediately read what the crowd wanted.
He responded with a selection of popular hits such as Tipi Ya Mokwatla, Bokgaitsadi from his previous offerings, and blended with tracks from the new release, E Ya Le Nna Babilone to devastating effect.
The revellers literally ate from the palms of his hands, and Franco even did a cover of Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry, to prove his versatility and further endeared himself to the crowd.
Popular local Afro Pop singer, Charma Gal of Mokolodi fame, joined Franco on stage and the crowd went berserk.
With the crowd soaking in the night’s tempo, Franco brought the house down with his all time hit, Ke lela le lona, to leave the bar too high for Tuku.
The 65-year-old, who has 67 albums to his name, was at his usual best but the cheers were a tone lower compared to Franco’s performance.
He performed tracks like Mhopo, Kusvipa and Perekedza Mwana, which were well received. The event also saw Tuku’s wife, Daisy, joining him on stage.
Tuku was presented with a birthday cake, on stage by event promoter, Robbie Rob, as he turned 65 recently.
It was the first time at the Live Sessions that he had a real match on his hands.