Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Exclusive Interview: Meet Tswarelo Mothobe, Zimbabwe's Serial Arts Practitioner

Undoubtedly, Bulawayo is the Capital of Arts in Zimbabwe and amicable individuals such as Tswarelo Mothobe makes it easier for one to see right through that. I met Tswarelo back in 2009 when he was still hosting The Lounge an open mic initiative which saw to the growth of many, now, renowned artists. A few years later, the Father of two, lover of Coffee, serial Arts Practitioner and brains behind POT (Poetry on Thursday), is now one of the main forces to reckon with in Zimbabwe. He writes & directs for Award Winning Comedian – Clive Chigibhu and the fresh Comic - Marshal Elando, amongst many others some of whom might not have made it. Because he is a busy man, I had to catch up on the train before it passed by, Here is what he had to say.

Gilmore Tee: What is Poetry on Thursday – POT?
Tswarelo Mothobe: Poetry on Thursday is held every Thursday at the Indaba Book Cafe in Bulawayo since the first week of December 2014. It is a space for poets, poetry enthusiasts and lovers of words. POT is also weed which I don’t smoke by the way.

Gilmore Tee: Why the need to create such a platform?
Tswarelo Mothobe: It’s not as much of a need as it is a second nature, I have been hosting poetry events since 2006 and this particular one is not defined by the stencils that make up events. It is defined by the audiences who love poetry and is not an issue if we have six audience members, as long as they love and appreciate what poetry is and don’t expect more than that.

Gilmore Tee: Great, who is Tswarelo and where is he coming from?
Tswarelo Mothobe: Tswarelo is a father now and a writer first. I believe literature is the beginning, even Christians believe in the beginning was the word. Everything else is just a necessity of the empty gaps that exist in the arts in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, for example, event organizing. I was a young poet who wanted to perform and there wasn't a platform. So I had to create one so I could get to perform.

Gilmore Tee: Have far apart have your dreams shifted from when you were younger?
Tswarelo Mothobe: When I was 9 years old, I wanted to be a farmer. I thought life revolved around food to eat and if I planted it myself I wouldn't have to buy expensive sh*t food. I guess my dreams have change. Although I was already writing, I just didn't think that could be a dream and let alone a vocation.

Gilmore Tee: Dope stuff, what are your highlights thus far in the Poetic journey?

Tswarelo Mothobe: In 2009 & 2010, I worked on Poetic Brush with Visual Artist, Fisani Nkomo. The initiative involved great performance & visual artists, and many of my favourite. I met Ian Kamau, Akala, Mandisa Mabuthoe, Mmakgari Dabutha and Don Mattera. I performed alongside poet laureates, and this was just the beginning. I have performed at the Harare International Festival of the Arts, Shoko Festival in Zimbabwe, House of Hunger Poetry Slam and Africa & Art Spoken in South Africa. And of course, the simplicity of Bulawayo as a City is poetry in itself.

Gilmore Tee: Spoken word is known for stirring emotions. Have you ever gotten into trouble through your expressions?

Tswarelo Mothobe: Fortunately I haven’t gotten into any trouble linked to spoken word. I don’t think I can get into trouble because I don’t seek to stir up trouble. It would be unfortunate if I did get into trouble especially for my honesty. You see, old men like me have no business provoking anyone. My core business is honesty and if that spells trouble then that is very unfortunate.

Gilmore Tee: What is your advice to young Poets?
Tswarelo Mothobe: Read, Read, Read…Write, Write, Write... But, if you are not writing your honesty then you have no business in this, no pun intended.

Gilmore Tee: Why should I attend pot?
Tswarelo Mothobe: Because it’s for you own good.

Gilmore Tee: What other business are you involved in?
Tswarelo Mothobe: I am involved in film making , music production, fatherhood, coffee drinking, theatre direction, photography, graphic design, journalism, blogging and a whole lot of reading and watching cartoons LINK:

Gilmore Tee: What are you current Top 5 must listen to?

Tswarelo Mothobe:
1. Mandisa Mabothoe
2. Ian Kamau
3. Fela Kuti
4. Nobuntu

5. Tanga Pasi

My work seeks to show the African in a different light. In a manner the world has neglected to see us in a positive, life affirming light. It challenges the African & listener to strive to be a better person to oneself and to another” – A Scribe Called Tswa

Need I say more, for more information on Tswarelo Mothobe, CLICK ( Make sure you let me know your thoughts on Twitter @GilmoreTee | Hashtag #OTNGtee which simply means, On to The Next with Gilmore Tee or Visit me on my Facebook Page: Gilmore Tee. Let’s get chatting. 

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