For many years, Baitshepi Mwachisenge better known as Chris Manto 7 has been a household name in the entertainment industry. His music especially his most popular hit, Zwakapresa propelled him to greater heights. Having made his mark in the industry and having seen the good and the bad of Gaborone, Manto 7 went back to Maun where he has become a popular DJ at Akron Tangier.
He is part of the resident DJs crew and also performs whenever there is a show. While he is enjoying himself in entertainment industry it is also evident that the man will soon be seen at freedom squares because indications are that he will soon be chanting political slogans, BDP political slogans to be precise. Daniel Chida sat down with him for a one -on-one.
MAKING A NAME FOR HIMSELF
Who is Chris Manto 7?
I am a young man who was born and bred in Shakawe in a family of two boys and four girls. I am the second born in our family. I have two children, a boy and a girl with different mothers. I started singing in the school choir while in primary because I had an ambition of becoming a musician at a very tender age.
At junior and senior level I started manufacturing and repairing marimba and thereafter I worked for Serowe North Development Trust as youth coordinator under President Ian Khama Constituency by then. I used to distribute marimba in all the 11 constituencies.
How did you land in music industry?
I joined Jeff Matheatau’s band as a dancer-cum- backing vocalist. I got a lot of experience from that band and had to share stage with the likes of Lucky Dube, Koffi Olomide and Extra Musica at Blue Tree. All the shows that I was taking part in were live whch helped me a lot as I was still young.
I am really grateful to Matheatau for the exposure. If it wasn’t for him I don’t know where I would be right now.
Which of your albums has stood the test of time and why?
Duya because of the hit Zwakapresa, people are still crazy about it.
You recently shot a video for your upcoming album, when should we expect it?
The album is coming out next month and is called My babe Okavango with seven tracks. My babe is the hit track. It is a mixture of Nigerian and Mbukushu culture. I like my tradition and will always sing in that way to promote it.
You started your music in Maun and then relocated to Gaborone why?
I relocated to Gaborone because that is where you can get better publicity and all the services. I needed to be closer to promoters and night clubs where shows are always instead of here where we hardly have any.
So why did you come back to Maun?
I came back here in 2009 to plough back to my community and to help the youth penetrate the market. I am working with other underground artists who are still at a crawling stage in as far as music is concerned but I am sure one day they will also make a break through.
Is that the only reason, be fair to our readers and your followers out there who want to know the whole truth.
My brother I was cheated of P50 000 by a close friend of mine. He gave me a cheque to deposit in my account because he did not have an account and everything went fine. He then came again with another cheque and because I trusted him I gave him my money while waiting for his to clear at the bank but it bounced.
He refused to give me my money back and the police were also of no help. As we speak now I haven’t got my money back. The whole experience made me lose interest in Gaborone.
So you wouldn’t advise any upcoming artists from Maun and surrounding areas to relocate to Gaborone?
If an artist has potential to relocate to Gaborone he can do that, I don’t have any problem with that, they should not be afraid to take risks. I took a risk and made a name for myself in the industry.
You once made headlines when you were failing to financially support your child, how did it go and how are things now?
(Laughs)I had problems that I had to take care of at home as a breadwinner. Things are now fine because my siblings are working. Actually the whole story started after winning in the President’s day competitions and the mother of my child thought that the money was made available to me right there on spot.
She then rushed to the media thinking I had money but refusing to maintain our child yet that was not the case, but things are fine now because she is an understanding person.
There was a time you were rumoured to be bankrupt, how true was that?
Things happen in the music industry and you must be clever and invest while there is still money coming in. I misused lot of money on friends plus the P50 000 that was stolen but I have recovered.
So it’s true that you were indeed bankrupt?
Yes it is and that is one of the reasons why I found my way back to Maun. There was no one to help me in Gaborone but I am happy that I left as things have gone back to normal. I am making money and living a quiet normal life. In Gaborone life is fast for musicians.
What do you mean life is fast, is it not you artists who run after women and fast cars?
Yaa, we do try to impress people but that is in the past now. But as for running after women I never did that because I was in a relationship but it failed and I am not prepared to be involved any time soon. Some
artists do like women and you will find them having four women at the same time and the truth is that for these women it’s all about money and nothing else.
How much did you make from Zwakapresa album, and where did the money go to?
The album made more than P100 000 and I bought two cars, a Mercedes Benz and a Hyundai. The rest I cannot account for. But I did send some home to help my single mother.
Do you think our artists know anything about saving and investing?
Majority of artists are not educated and know nothing about investment. The only thing that they know and are a good at is partying, spending on ladies, booze and drugs.
You have become a popular DJ around Maun by the name DJ 7, what does this mean in terms of your career?
Being a DJ is part of my career and I have talent for that. I want to show other DJs who mix music with computer at their homes and play it at shows that its not right.I mix live on stage and patrons like thatt. Akron Tangier patrons know and like my style because I never take short cuts.
Are we not going to see you leaving the microphone permanently for earphones?
No, it will not happen, the two go hand in hand, a typical example is the South African DJ Sbu and Mzekezeke.
There are also reports that you will be vying for a parliamentary seat, when did you develop interest in politics?
I had interest in politics from childhood but had to wait until the right time after gaining experience. All members of our family including extended family are Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) followers and it will be suicide to go the other route.
So you will be contesting in 2014?
I cannot answer that question for now.
Ok, will let it pass since you don’t want to directly answer it. What are your views regarding alcohol levy and operational times for bars and nightclubs?
I don’t have a problem with the alcohol levy because it is benefitting the youth. My problem is with operational times because people no longer attend our shows as they complain of short time but when we do day shows they do not come again because they are not used to that.
You are said to be close to President Khama are you intending to somehow influence him to soften up on the issue?
I think I should give it a try because he is approachable and he does listen.
But tell me, how did you get to be friends with the President?
It started when I was working for him at the Serowe development trust while he was still the vice president. I used to report to him directly or through Isaac Kgosi when he was then his private secretary.
And what has been the highlight of your career?
Performing for Prince William during his 21st birthday in 2003. I also met a lot of celebrities there including Mr Bean who really motivated me.
If I were to give you the platform to market yourself, what would you say to your fans and voters in few words?
To my fans I would urge them to stop judging me before hearing what I have produced. My promise to them is that I will always produce quality music. They must always know that Manto 7 and DJ 7 are there in one package and should keep on supporting me. I am the North West District brand. I do not have message to voters because the BDP policy does not allow such things at this stage.
Lastly its Friday today, what’s up for the weekend?
I will be playing at Akron this evening and tomorrow then Sunday its swimming day with friends.
Full Names: Baitshepi Mwachisenge
Date of Birth: 20 May 1982
Place of Birth: Shakawe
Role Model: My Mother (Sesora Mwachisenge)
Church: Assemblies of God
Favourite meal: Porridge and Fish
Car driving: VW Beetle