Putting on Napoleon’s hat


His poems have featured in international platforms like the Cape Town based Badilisha Poetry Radio, a podcast platform exclusively dedicated to the outstanding voices of Africa and its Diaspora.

He has been published in a prestigious literary journal, Prairie Schooner, a publication of the University of Nebraska.

Legodile Seganabeng, aka Dredd X, is a man of many talents. The Voice reporter Daniel Chida had a chat with this man.

Q. Welcome to our Big Interview. Please briefly introduce yourself?

My name is Legodile Seganabeng. I’m also known as Dredd X.

Legodile and Dredd X are two different personas sheltered in one physical structure.

They really shouldn’t be mixed up because they are very different. Seganabeng is the writer, the school teacher, the fine artist; while Dredd X is the musician and the performance poet.

A penultimate of eight siblings, I was born in the village of Tonota.

I completed my high school in Lotsane Senior Secondary School in 1998, and then went on to study at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa in 2001.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Technology in Fine Art in 2005.

The five years I spent in South Africa were filled with the greatest lessons of my life.

It is in Johannesburg that I started being what I am right now.

Though I went there to primarily study Fine Art, I was never confined to the boundaries of academic life. I explored.

My years in SA were an unforgettable adventure. In the end I came out as a budding writer, a poet, a guitarist and of course a visual artist.

Q. Where did the name Dredd X come from?

A lot of performance artists have pseudonyms but I acquired the name Dredd X before I became a performance artist.

When I was in my national service in 1999, a colleague of mine tossed a book at me and said to me, ‘read this!’ I’ve always been a fervent reader.

The book was called ‘Malcolm X Speaks.’

I had never heard of Malcolm before. When I finished the book, I saw the world in an entirely different way.

I was a new man. In my first year in SA, I bought a Malcolm X book every month.

I identified so much with the X in Malcolm’s name. When I looked deep into who and what I am, I realised that I too have an X in me.

And so I sat down, solved the equation and found the value of X. Then I became Dredd X.

Q. When and why did you form Poetavango?

In 2006, I was employed by the Teaching Service Management and to my chagrin, I was posted to a village far off right at the tip of north-western Botswana. The disparities between Johannesburg and Shakawe were way too much for me.

Being catapulted from a huge, pulsing metropolitan to a small village in the heart of the Okavango was a challenge for a hopeful artist.

To cling to my sanity, I wrote poems and songs and short stories. Quickly I was transferred to Maun.

There weren’t much recreation facilities too and I drew up a plan to form a poetry movement. ‘What if we have poets in the Okavango meeting for poetry readings?’ I said to myself.

In 2008 I met a guitarist friend called Emmanuel Galeboe and I sold him the idea. He loved it.

Quickly we met a young woman, Phenyo Gaotlhobogwe and the three of us started the poetry movement.

Poetavango is an amalgamation of the words Poet and Okavango since we were poets living in the Okavango.

Our first session was in March 2008 at the Red Cross Hall with only three performers and twenty one people as our audience.

That was a big number for us and we were excited.

The Maun people were very supportive from the very beginning and so our free sessions were held every last Sunday of the month.

Q. After Berry Heart’s performed almost naked in 2012 we hear you introduced a dress code. Is it true?

I’m afraid there was a bit of misunderstanding there especially from the media.

There wasn’t really any introduction of dress codes.

What we introduced rather, was a ‘dress rehearsal’ session which would allow the organisers to preview the kind of performance the artists would do.

In this way, we’d know what sessions of the festival would be appropriate to their performance.

The festival is a week-long event, with some sessions tailored for the whole family.

Now, you wouldn’t perform to a nine year old the way you’d perform to an adult.

Q. Does that not limit an artist or infringe into his/her style?

Our intention was not to censor performances. It’s a pity this has been so misinterpreted.

We wanted to sort out performances and place them in the right platforms within the different days of the festival.

Q. What is your take on dress code for artists?

Only the artist has the right to decide how he or she wants to dress up for the stage.

And whatever their choices turn out to be, those choices need to be respected.

We haven’t heard of Poetavango giving away proceeds to charity.

Q. Where does the money go to?

Poetavango is a non-profit making community-based organisation.

The profits made from festivals are used to fund the free shows that we do constantly.

The funds also take care of the day to day operations of the office.

Q. How much do you normally make from gate takings since the event is always packed to capacity?

We don’t make that much. To put up a festival of this magnitude calls up for a high budget.

Unfortunately we don’t have enough sponsors to fund the entire budget.

So part of the budget is covered by the very gate takings.

Q. What challenges do you face as a group?

We need sponsors to achieve our goals.

Potential sponsors are still reluctant to be fully involved.

This has limited the growth of the wonderful organisation.

Q. We have seen projects, groups and artists emerging from Maun but later migrate to Gaborone citing larger audience and publicity won’t that be the same with you in the future?

Serious artists don’t go from place to place searching for an audience.

Serious artists create an audience wherever they are. We’ve created a magnificent audience in Maun.

This place is now the home of poetry.

Q. Tell us about your book Josie.

I started writing the novel Josie when I was in my national service in 1999.

It was in fact my first piece of serious writing.

I shelved it for many years and rewrote it many times until it was finally published by Black Crake Books in 2014.

Currently the book is with the printers and we are hoping that soon it will be out for public consumption.

Sales points and prices will be discussed the moment it arrives.

Q. Why Josie?

The book was my resort when I lived in a place very far away from home, missing a mother figure.

A feeling of dislocated and conjured ideas in me.

And so I wrote a story about a mother who couldn’t stop at anything to get to her child.

The tag line is ‘Never try to separate a mother from her baby.’

Q. You do a lot of things. Where do you get inspiration?

Life is such a wonderful phenomenon. Life is so good and inspiring.

Q. How do you balance all those?

It comes naturally. I think all artists have different arts in them. It’s just that some choose to follow only one path.

Q. You are also a singer and guitarist. Tell us about your album?

I have a 14 track album called Poetic Meditations.

The poetry is fused with music and singing.

It’s doing quite well and I recommend it to all poetry and music lovers.

Q. How is art in Ngamiland?

It’s promising. There’s more to be done though.

This place has a potential to be an arts hub.

If only artists can get more serious, and donors invest in the arts, then I’m sure we’ll have a sure future for the arts.

This region is a very inspiring place.

With the wetlands and the beautiful sunsets, who wouldn’t become a good artist?

Q. As a teacher what do you do to make sure that your students don’t lose interest in arts after school?

I don’t only tell them that art is beneficial. I show them!

Q. Can one make a living out of arts?

Certainly! It takes determination and fortitude. And it also takes a favourable environment.

The arts industry in Botswana is still growing and so if one trips and fall, one need to rise up, dust himself up and try again.

Q. It’s Friday, what are your plans for the weekend?

If I’m not busy with my students who are behind on their practical projects then I will be just chilling strumming my guitar.

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