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I Love Botswana ensemble takes ‘best of Africa’ to Broadway

‘I love Botswana ensemble’ is expected to once again own the international stage, having wowed the world last year. This time, the group is billed for a grand appearance at the glamorous Broadway

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I love Botswana ensemble’ is expected to once again own the international stage, having wowed the world last year. This time, the group is billed for a grand appearance at the glamorous Broadway.

From August 22nd to 23rd the group is expected to draw crowds with their electrifying performances at the heart of New York at the Times Square.

The ensemble is a collaborative assortment of about seven groups namely, Mophato Dance Theatre, Skit Beat, Nare tsa Pina, Bana ba Kwena, Khudu Thamaga, Ntirelang Berman, and Tsoga Africa.

Speaking at the launch recently, Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conversation and Tourism, Tshekedi ‘TK’ Khama highlighted that ever since his Ministry- through Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO), refocused their energy into marketing Botswana through among others, the prestigious IT Berlin event they have had a turnaround of over P350 million.

“This is the best investment I know of. But today we are talking the next event, we are talking Broadway, we are talking something big. We need to stand up and be counted among the best,” he said.

Khama further said that ‘when we get to Broadway we are going to show them the best of Africa, we are going to blow them away. This is an opportunity that we have to show the world our culture and skill of the youth we have. We are going to show them what Botswana is and who Batswana are . I never imagined we would one day have a group to showcase in Broadway,” he said.

For his part, the man behind taking the group to Broadway, the President of the Battery Dance Festival- Emad Salem, said that they anticipate to put everything together in two months, something which he says is unheard of.

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“We are doing this in two months and it really is something that is unheard of. People usually take two years to bring such a production to life. We have a 360 advertising strategy to brand Botswana to millions of people in US, a billboard in the heart of Times Square.

Andrew Kola, the Art Director of the I love Botswana ensemble said: “It is every artist’s wish to stage in Broadway of course it is the biggest platform in the world.”

Kola further explained that their production called ‘Pula’ will represent all of Botswana’s tribes. “We all relate to the word Pula, it means a lot to Batswana and we use the phrase mostly in our celebrations and during gatherings. The production basically focuses on issues of the rainmaker who brings the rain.”

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How South Sudanese singer John Frog moved from child soldier to Afrobeats star

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John Frog may be one of South Sudan’s most successful musicians at the moment, but a little over 10 years ago, he was a child soldier conscripted to fight in the country’s civil war at the age of eight.

John Frog was born during the civil war and his parents were soldiers in the SPLA – the Sudan People’s Liberation Army but fortune later smiled on him as he realised his true calling of making music.

Today, the youngster has forged an international reputation and has collaborated with artists from other African countries, including Uganda’s Eddie Kenzo, Bahati from Kenya, and recently, Iyanya from Nigeria whom he featured in his latest song, “My Bed”, with the collaborations placing him as one of the most sought after Afrobeats artistes in Africa.

According to a feature story by the BBC Africa, “Frog is his real name. He was called Aguek, which means frog in Dinka, a language native to South Sudan, because he was a breech baby, coming into the world feet-first.”

“Given that his mother gave birth to him in a remote village with no hospital or doctor in sight, he was lucky to survive, as was his mother.”

Speaking on his experience in the army, John Frog said:

“They didn’t give us a gun yet, until I was 14 – that’s when I was given a gun.

“Every day, every week, there is a fight, so we have to run in the forest, in the water, so it was quite tough for me.”

He confessed that he didn’t go to school and only picked up English from the street.

Frog said he always loved music and even in the forest he would listen to traditional music.

He recalled that it was when he got the opportunity to go to South Sudan’s capital, Juba, where he met other young Africans that he started making music himself.

“We didn’t have enough producers in Juba. The producers who are here are from Kenya and Uganda, so it was a bit hard to know the kind of genre for South Sudanese music, so I decided to do Afrobeats.”

Frog noted that South Sudanese musicians who make the most money are the traditional praise singers.

“They praise people, they praise leaders, praise people who have money, so it’s the quickest way to make money here.

“But my aim is to reach the wider audience. Either this year or next year, I have to be among our brothers who are on top,” he vowed.

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Nigerian moviemakers Funke Akindele, Mo Abudu, Jade Osiberu named in Hollywood Reporter’s Powerful Women in Film list

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Foremost Nigerian moviemakers, Funke Akindele, Mo Abudu, and Jade Osiberu have been named in the Hollywood Reporter’s list of the 40 Most Powerful Women in International Film.

This list which “recognizes women who are bringing stories to a global stage and nurturing new voices despite a disrupted film market,” featured the Nollywood filmmakers as three of the top most powerful in Africa.

The Hollywood Reporter describes the three as the “most powerful African film-makers who have for the past years graced our cinemas with captivating stories and productions.”

“Africa’s production industry faced a setback when Amazon Prime Video left the African originals business. Yet, Abudu, a pioneer in African media, continues to thrive. Her recent project, the short film “Dust to Dreams” directed by Idris Elba, received funding from the African Export-Import Bank’s $1 billion Creative Africa film fund,” it said.

“Abudu emphasizes the need for the international industry to embrace diverse stories.

“In her words, she said ‘We need a systemic shift towards inclusion. Diverse storytelling isn’t just about representation; it’s about unlocking a wealth of untapped creative potential.'”

“Akindele added politician to her roles as actor, writer, director, and producer when she ran for the 2023 Lagos state gubernatorial elections. Though her party lost, her career flourished. Her latest comedy, :A Tribe Called Judah”, which she wrote, directed, produced, and starred in, became the highest-grossing Nigerian movie ever, earning $1.2 million.

“Osiberu, a leading figure among Nigerian producer-directors, created the crime thriller “Gangs of Lagos” for Amazon. Her next film, “Everything Scatter,” follows five young people during a day of protests in Lagos.”

Speaking the the recognition, Abudu said:

“This recognition is a massive win for Nigeria! Seeing our nation celebrated for its incredible storytelling potential is so inspiring.

“I’m incredibly proud to be part of a movement pushing for a more inclusive film industry that embraces the power of diverse stories.”

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