Bots ensemble thrills Broadway

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By Bakang Mhaladi

Gaborone - Botswana's arts and culture thrilling story will be incomplete without the mention of the country's much acclaimed traditional dance.

Rarely does a gathering end without the thumping sounds and dance drawn from and influenced by the country's diverse culture.

Traditional dance has become the anchor of the Batswana cultural events, and has, over the years, rapidly penetrated the global market.

The vast progress was signified by a Kora award, handed to Machesa Traditional Group in 2003, which was a first for a Botswana group.

Fast forward to 2018, Botswana's ensemble 'I Love Botswana' descended on the world's biggest threatre stage, Broadway, last week Wednesday and Thursday, leaving lasting impressions.

With a performance dubbed 'Pula' the group put up a spirited dance and song show, which solicited rave reviews. The performance was about the rain (Pula) and its ever-lasting, and positive effect on ordinary Batswana's life.

The American audience was left satisfied with a performance that also embodied Botswana culture, and was used to showcase what the southern African country can offer.

“When they stomp in unison, backed by low drums, you feel it in your gut. This is a direct-appeal show, with a jovial narrator who says things like ‘our culture is beautiful’. The performers are generous, aiming their smiles right at the audience and accepting applause as dry earth absorbs water,” the New Times wrote in its review of the group's debut performance.

The ‘I Love Botswana’ ensemble had been visible on the streets of New York in the build-up to their performance, with impromptu shows that mesmerized audiences.

Their traditional attire, animal skin and Germany print, caught the eye and were welcomed by many in New York, a virgin ground, away from their home.

The group, besides song and dance, plays marimba and drums. The drums, particularly, produce a distinctly African sound, which appealed to the mostly American audience.

Botswana's President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, himself a former performing artist, was proud of the group's journey to New York, and congratulated the ensemble for a mesmerising show.

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