30 November 2012

Namibia: It's Time for Elemotho, King of Africa's Music of the Time

Windhoek — There is one name that stands above the rest when it comes to African contemporary music in Namibia, and that name undoubtedly is Elemotho.

Translated as "as a person" in Setswana, his mother tongue, Elemotho Gaalelkwe Richardo Mosimane was born in the Gobabis are, in the Omaheke region on a farm. Wildlife, livestock and fire side stories aided this young boy as he grew up and fuelled his passions for a genre of music that transcended the traditional and embraces the fusion of language, eclectic sounds and humanity in all forms. He calls himself a musical activist, and his journey through life not only as a man but as a performing artist bears testimony to that.

"I was born in the Kalahari on a farm, and I believe that cemented my love for this country that just seems to grow in bounds and leaps. The landscape, the horizon, the stars...the ancestral stories, the memories, our heritage as a people, our richness in our diversity is endless. As a thoughtful child, I felt compelled to draw and paint as a young boy, and even though I was surrounded by a lot of traditional Setswana groups and choirs growing up, it was only until university that I showed an interest in music" he says. After university, his wanderlust for travelling and experiencing the world took hold, and armed with his guitar he went to the United States of America (USA). He's new found taste for other places stuck and between 2001 and 2002 he spent his time balancing work and travel. Explains Elemotho: "I was incredibly lucky to have a period of time where I could hone my life purpose.

For two years I performed, I worked as a part time teacher, I travelled Namibia and I went to France and Germany for theatre and music training. Then the next year, in 2003 with the amazing assistance of the Franco Namibian Cultural Centre (FNCC), I was able to realise a dream, and released my first album, The System Is a Joke."

It was the debut album, that cemented his presence on the music scene, and not only Namibia but the world took notice. Here was a musician who had a lot to say. His music, a delectable yet powerful blend of ethnic and international sounds, a mere background to his true passion; activism. He is known to have once said, "I grew up as a child of Apartheid, and so politics is a part of me I guess, I carry it on my sleeve, as I carry the questions of life." After, The System is A Joke, Elemotho became an established musical fixture, performing everywhere from South Africa to European at music festivals, solidifying his music, and accumulating inspiration to create as he went along. In 2008 he released Human, once again with the assistance of the FNCC and earlier this year he became the recipient of the RFI 24th Discovery award, an act that will not only see him travel to numerous member countries of the FNCC but through this platform to promote his music to the rest of Africa, is bound to shoot his star even further.

His joy is palpable, "I cannot explain what winning RFI discovery 2012 means to me as an artist. Most people think of this award in monetary value only. Let me make it clear; it is not just about the money. For any performing musician to be afforded the opportunity to get a promotional deal to tour 24 different countries... is an absolute dream come true. This is why I do this; for the music,for the love of the music. Off course I invest a lot of money and energy into my art but at the end of the day, it is the love of music that propels me forward. I am not only overjoyed for being recognised, I am humbled by this opportunity."

Furthermore, he has just signed a five year worldwide distribution deal with a UK based record company, Arc Music, and this boy from the Kalahari is boyant. " This is a beautiful time to be alive", he smiles. His 3rd album Kenako ( meaning: it's time) will be launches at the Playhouse Theatre tonight. A more apt album title there couldn't have been. This is surely Elemotho's time.

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