Born in Venda and raised in Soweto, Dan Tshanda only went as far as Standard 4 during the Bantu Education system due to lack of funds in the family.
Though he had no future plans when leaving school, the now popular ‘Splash’ man knew he was destined to follow his musical passion.
His desire was to join the likes of Steve Kekana and Soul Brothers but due to his young age and poverty situation he could not fit in, and he gave up on the plan.
Despite his circumstances, Tshanda took a bold step and started his own group called Flying Sounds which led to the release of their first album titled ‘MR TONY’ with Gallo Records in 1985.
This week Voice Reporter LEONARD MATOTA caught up with the ‘Peacock’ hit maker to find out more about his musical journey.
Q: Good day Dan, how are you?
Well if it’s not for the fact that I am stressed about what transpired in Maun over the weekend, I can’t complain.
Q: What happened?
You know we are currently engaged in a Splash National Tour around Botswana, and over the weekend in Maun I lost equipment worth half a million!
Q: That’s sad, how did that happen?
I wish I knew, but all I can say is that the equipment got stolen when we started experiencing the power cuts at the stadium when it was dark.
Nothing has been recovered by far except the stand for Key board.
Q: Hard luck, let’s hope you will recover them soon. So I guess the show didn’t go on?
Yah well it didn’t and I am planning on making it up to the people of Maun as well as Batswana in general, hopefully arrane for a free quality show before or in December.
Q: That would be nice, now tell us more about yourself and upbringing?
I grew up in a family of five, unfortunately one passed away.
We were very poor in our family, hence the decision to leave school at a younger age.
It wasn’t easy being at school hungry and looking all tattered while others were neat.
I felt out of place.
Q: And how was your parents’ reaction to your decision?
I can only assume that just like any parent it hurt them, but they didn’t have a choice because they could not afford much.
I didn’t even have school shoes. So I had to chase my music career just to make ends meet.
I also got piece jobs along the way and started distributing newspapers to white people and that’s where I got my name Peacock because of the way I was running.
Q: Speaking of ‘Peacock’, that was your first successful album. Please tell us more about it.
You know I always smile talking about this because the name Hamilton Nzimande immediately crops up.
This is the man who gave us an opportunity to record this album in 1986 when most people shunned us.
I stayed under Nzimande’s wing and he taught me everything that I know about music such as engineering, being an artist, professionalism and handling interviews.
Q: But in the end you left Gallo and started your own stable!
Yes my brother, you see in life we grow and it got to that point where I felt I had grown.
So in 1999 I opened my own company called Dalom Music Distributors, which saw the release of Makhirikhiri, the first album under my own company.
Q: At that point your music had gained popularity, how easy or difficult was it to market your type of music?
Eish! You know God works in mysterious ways.
I believe it was God’s blessings after seeing my struggle.
People just loved Splash and supported us unconditionally, I still can’t explain how that came about, its like everything happened so fast or miraculously.
I thank God everyday for the love he has shown me.
Q: Splash, that’s what people call your genre. Is that how it’s called?
Well I have accepted it but you know its Disco.
The name Splash is a stage name which was given to me by Ray Phiri of Stimela, who first gave us an opportunity to come to Botswana as curtain raisers in 1987.
By the grace of God Batswana loved me and I gained even more strength to come on my own afterwards.
Q: Ever since then you were a regular here, how best would you describe your relationship with Botswana?
Simple, because of the support that I got from Botswana I became who I am today.
Batswana have been supporting me since day one up to this day, as well as Botswana government.
I now have Botswana citizenship and I have been married to a Motswana woman for the last 16 years, with three beautiful kids.
So I owe my success to Botswana.
Q: Lately you spend most of time here, is it because your music has lost popularity back in South Africa?
No no no! that’s not true, in fact South Africa still supports me a lot, I mean after all I am one of them.
South Africa has played a big part in my music career and Splash is not only loved in Botswana but worldwide.
The Zimbabweans support Splash like it was born there.
London, Japan and other parts of Europe dance to Splash as well.
Q: How do you manage to make Europeans dance to Splash?
They may not hear what I am saying in the songs but the melody gets them up on their feet.
Splash melody is a very special one.
It is very irresistible and caters for all, both young and old.
Above all its so classical you can listen to it and it remains relevant for the longest of time.
Q: Splash events have always been associated with violence, what is your take on that?
Violence that occurs at Splash events is not different from any violence at other musical events.
We don’t kill people at Splash, and most incidents that have been reported happened away from the event.
It’s a pity those unfortunate people were coming to or from the Splash event which is very popular and attracts many.
It’s just a stereotype because of the number of people our shows always attract.
Q: Then what are you doing to change that Stereotype?
There is little I can do really except to keep educating people that we don’t kill people at our shows.
In fact in all our shows we tighten our security to the maximum to protect people and their belongings.
Therefore we continue to promise and encourage our fans to always stay within the protected event area.
Q: With Botswana having played a huge role in your music career, what are you doing to give back?
Wow, part of the Splash National Tour is giving back to Batswana.
In every town that we will tour we are going to give P5000 to the less privileged that we would have identified at the end of the tour.
Q: Interesting, and in terms of music industry?
Ooh Yes, I am working with Vee on an album that is going to be talk of the town and we will be touring Japan together.
During this tour which started in Lobatse a fortnight ago I have Slizer, Vee, Fondo Fire and local MCs on board.
I’m also nurturing young musicians who will later during the year release their own albums.
Q: And just how do you balance all this time with family?
I manage very well. My wife does the administration and she understands very well what I do for a living.
At times I take her along on the road sometimes with the kids!
In any case I met her on the road, so she knows very well.
Q: Lovely stuff, but looking at the time here and property investments that you have made in Botswana, is the Dalom Stable alive?
Yes sir it is very much alive and still have everyone on board except for Patricia Majalisa.
She has grown and that’s what we need in music, we need artists to grow and be on their own.
Q: Thank you very much for your time sir, Thank God It’s Friday! What are you up to?
I have replaced the same worth of equipment and I am heading to Jwaneng tonight (Friday), then Tsabong on Saturday.
I am planning on giving them the best of Dan Tshanda.