ONCE A MUSICIAN, ALWAYS A MUSICIAN
While other young boys were kicking ball or moulding mud animals, he would be in the house listening to music or strumming away at his self-made tin guitar. He made friends with his mother’s music collection and his Uncle’s guitar. Today, he has an album to his name. Kgomotso Tshwenyego sat down with him and learnt that he does not only make music hut also wants to work with HIV/Aids Organisations and is willing to make time and donate his music towards fighting the scourge. Thabang Garogwe, of KE A GANA fame, surely promises to be one of the jazz gurus this country will forever celebrate.
Cap- Jazz maestro- Thabang Gorogwe
Q. Who is Thabang?
A jazz artist born in Digawana, 1st son of Martina Garogwe, I have two brothers and a sister. I schooled in Digawana Primary School, Dithejwane CJSS and Lobatse Senior Secondary School. I then proceeded to study Sound Engineering at Zimbabwe College of Music. I started as a gospel singer, but I felt a bit more comfortable with jazz since I express myself much more fearlessly with Jazz.
Q. Does this mean Thabang has changed?
No. I am still a Christian, I just wanted to include non-christians in my music. Gospel is a Ministry and not a genre, with Jazz I wanted to reach a much more wider listernership. Gospel music does not have enough airplay in radio stations.
Q. Describe your family’s musical interests and abilities.
My family is very spiritual and musical. As a child I had too many questions and I found comfort in music. My uncle Esrom Otukile was a very good guitarist though he didn’t have his own album. He would play for us while sitting around the fire in the evenings. Sometimes I used to take his guitar and play around with it till some good sound came out of it. I also grew up listening to my mother’s music collection ranging from gospel, maskanti, mpaqanga and disco.
Q. What was the inspiration behind your album?
Most of my songs are inspired by my own life experiences and how I would like to live my life. Most of all, as an African, I found inspiration from my ethics, my own upbringing and the essence of “botho” that we have as Africans. I wanted to share the African norms instilled in me and extend them to the next generation the best way I can. Take the title track KEA GANA for instance, it talks about a man celebrating a woman in his life and being grateful to have her and saying no to infidelity.
Q. Are you married?
Q. You must be having a lot of women chasing after you then?
Well, I do get the normal attention men get from women, but I am directed by my morals and belief in longterm, anything that is not of value and commitment isnt worth starting.
Q. How about men?
Q. You can tell me. Have you ever kissed a man or dated a man?
Well, I do not have anything against gays but it is something that I myself cannot and will not do. I am guided by my own Christian beliefs and upbringing. I do know people that are gay, I don’t judge them but its not my thing.
Q. Would you hit a woman?
Never have and never will. I was raised by a very strong single African woman who taught me so much about life and made me the man I am today. It is from her that I drew respect and appreciation for women.
Q. What’s the one thing artists should do to gain recognition?
We need a united voice, put our house in order for people to appreciate and recognise our existence. Quality is driven by passion, sacrifice, patience and most of all consideration for the listening public. Music is a way in which lives can be changed or saved. We should make music that can realise this and if what we do isnt going to change anything then it is not worth it. Batswana deserve better than what we have always given them. Music is more enjoyable when it’s live and I would encourage artists to do live shows.
Q. Is there any change that you would love to see in the music industry?
Music has to be taken as a business entity. There should be regulatory measures that govern musicians to ensure good quality of work produced. If we have that, we will then be able to have selling or fixed prices for records. We also need Distribution companies to distribute our music.
Q. Are you getting returns for your music?
Am not getting what am worth. Our music is still being played for free in local radio stations and as a result we’re not receiving royalties. The Government of Botswana put money in the formation of Botswana Collecting Society. It is one’s hope that artists would have been involved and were part of this process.
Q. Does that mean the Society hasn’t done anything for artists?
There is need for a visible working relationship between the artists and the Society. The relationship hasn’t been maintained to achieve the intended results. Once this working relationship has been established, artists will enjoy the fruits of their work.
Q. Who is the one musician you would love to do a collaboration with?
As a father figure and someone that I really respect in this industry, it has to be Malombo.
Q. Which famous local musicians have you learned from?
A number of them but I will have to single out Tshepo Lesole and my all-time Mentor and role model Malombo. Malombo has musically served this country with passion and the quality and dedication that he displays on stage is inspiring. He has nurtured a number of artists, including myself, and some musical instrumentalists as well. It is rare to find someone of his age, giving selflessly and not tiring from what he loves to do.
Q. If you were not a musician, what would you be?
A Fashion Designer. I have the love for fashion but it was music that really stole my heart. I would like to try acting as well.
Q. Your musical goals a few years down the road?
With the kind of love and support I’m receiving from home and beyond, it is my mission to take my music regionally and internationally. I have had international appreciation from musicians in their different portfolios. The plan now is to have a DVD for KE A GANA. My second album will come in two years’ time.
Q. That long?
I believe in quality and quality does take time.
Q. Best Advice you ever received?
My grandmother, “Always maintain a humble attitude, it is what we’re made of that people see in us than what we think of ourselves”.
Q. Your last words?
The time has come to listen to music that builds us as a nation, our families and that takes out the best in us as individuals and that music is here.
Name: Thabang Garogwe
Date of Birth: 2 September
Political Affiliation: None
Role Model: Uncle Esrom Otukile
Relationship Status: Single but not looking
Favorite food: Bogobe, beef and Morogo wa Dinawa
Parents: Martina Garogwe
Favorite local musician: Malombo, Tshepo Lesole and Trinity
Book Reading: Nurturing the Man in You
Musical Instrument playing: Guitar and Keyboard
Words of wisdom: When you see success, you will get it, the power is in your touch