23 June 2009

Botswana: Matsieng Alive And Kicking Despite the Silence

Popular traditional group, Matsieng has been quiet. The group which is under the Eric Ramco stable, seems to be in doldrums after releasing its acclaimed album, Setswana sa Borre in 2007.

The album, which featured the hit track, Tinto topped the local music charts.

Matsieng was in demand all over the country after the album release. Everyone was talking about Tinto, an irresponsible man who did not look after his girlfriend. It became the unofficial song of the year. There were two versions of the song, one with explicit lyrics and the edited version meant for radio broadcast. But people preferred the unedited version. Even during corporate functions, the executives demanded the "real thing".

At the height of their success, the group parted with lead vocalist, Ditiro "DT" Leero who was said to have been instrumental in composing the songs. DT has since embarked on a successful solo career.

The director of Eric Ramco stable, Eric Ramogobya also worked on the production of the album. During their prime, Matsieng also toured overseas.

People used to follow Matsieng whenever they performed. But since last year, there has not been much heard about the traditional group. Now the pertinent question is when they will release their next album and would it be equally a success?

The last time Matsieng performed was with other local groups at the Mascom Festival at Lions Park during New Year's Eve. Since then, the group has not been staging many shows.

Matsieng exploded onto the music scene with the release of their debut album, Semakaleng, which also topped the charts. The album features tracks like Semakaleng, Thulamela and Segametsi. they became famous for its explicit lyrics.

When he was contacted, Ramogobya said they had been distracted by a case in which one of the leading members of the group is facing defilement charges. Ramogobya said they wanted to focus their energy on fighting the case because it is a serious matter.

"We have to sort out things and first and at the moment, we are focusing on the case," he said.

But he assured Matsieng followers that the group is still alive and well. He revealed that they have recently been staging corporate shows.

They were planning to come out of hibernation in the summer. Ramogobya but said they have shelved the plans because of the impending court case.

Ramogobya this does not mean that they would not release another album in the future. He recalled that even after the Semakaleng album, the group took one year-and-a-half to come up with another album.

In the past, Eric Ramco had produced other top traditional acts like Machesa, who went on to contest in international competitions. Machesa has returned to the Eric Ramco stable.

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