I’m aware that the world has changed.
According to the new dispensation, if you want it, you should get it, and it shouldn’t involve much work.
There’s an easy way and that’s always the way you should take.
The entire and only point is to reach your goal no matter the path, no matter the flimsy foundation you’ll be standing on at the end.
Because of this new dispensation we have “artists” that are famous for being Satanists.
People described as “artists” because they are known for their ability to wear few clothes or crawl about the floor like animals.
Their music listened to not because it’s good, not because the person is actually a musician, someone who is able to make music, but because of hype. The “artist” got to his goal, to make money and be famous.
The path? Irrelevant. The musical foundation? Absent and of no use.
This same path is followed by many of our writers and poets too. Have they read poetry?
Do they understand how stories work? Have they worked hard to understand their craft? No.
They stood up and started throwing words from the thesaurus together in ways that don’t make coherent sentences let alone powerful images that can move a person.
But they there, at the front, shining with all of their bling bling and vacuous statements.
And Batswana, sadly, embrace them, encouraging such unfortunate practices.
In the background, the real artists work, slowly and steadily. Celebrity and fame are not the important points.
They are incidental. Money only allows them to continue.
The point is the path. The point is building a solid, strong foundation.
The point is understanding their craft from every way, understanding from where they come.
I’m writing this the Monday after the weekend in which Tsilo Baitsile was laid to rest.
I met Tsilo some years ago when I went to Music Camp for the first time as a very bad and scared trumpet player.
I’d never played with a band before and was nervous. But Tsilo helped me.
He wrote my music for me, because unlike everyone else, I could not play by ear, but only from notation.
Tsilo knew music from every side, from every perspective. I managed that first year, only because of him. And each year after, I was lucky to learn more and more from this true artist.
And at music camp I met all sorts of extremely talented people, people committed to the path, committed to building that foundation first.
Not committed to the fluff and vacuousness of fame and fortune.
Not committed to only hearing their own name.
Artist is a word that is thrown around in Botswana without care.
An artist is not a person who makes beats on their computer and then raps words they’re sure will get people gasping at their audacity.
That is not an artist. That’s a person not interested in the path. Not committed to the foundation.
I’m not sure what word we should use for them, perhaps celebrity. They are celebrated, this is true. They are famous.
Their goal achieved. But they are not artists, so please let’s stop calling them that.
We should learn to use our words carefully.
Calling someone an artist who is merely playing at fame, is undermining real artists, the people devoted to their art, who take the time to learn what came before, to separate the threads and understand each and every one.
The people who build the foundation before reaching for the stars.
In Botswana, we worship fame. We sadly do not worship genius. We do not worship commitment.
We do not worship hard work. I wish this could change, but I doubt it will.
Not many people knew Tsilo Baitsile for the great man, the great artist, that he was.
He was not celebrated as he should have been if we in fact cared about true artists.
If his fortunes matched his talents, this humble man would have been one of the richest in the country.
But that was not the case. I was just lucky to have known him, to have been given the chance to know a true artist. And I won’t forget it.
RIP, Rre Baitsile. Ke ale boga.