I watched Elemotho perform thrice in one year. That is a mark I wear like a badge. My first encounter was at the annual Sauti za Busara Festival in Zanzibar, a premium World Music event that has this thing about exposing one to great little-known talent. And that’s it biggest draw; the fact that you do not know which artiste among the 40-or-so on the three-day weekend performance bill will enchant you enough to have their music on high rotation on your iPod. That was in the searing month of February 2009.
My second Elemotho helping was at the annual Bayimba International Film Festival in Kampala after an impressed Festival Director Faisal Kiwewa (he was at Sauti za Busara that February as well) handpicked Elemotho to perform at Uganda’s premier arts event in June that year (the festival has since bee shifted to September in order not to compete for artistes with the European and North American festival schedule). Here Elemotho was his usual fiery self yet again. The last time was at the Arts Alive Festival in Johannesburg, which fell at the time the World Arts Summit was being held there in September 2009. Elemotho was billed as one of the top artistes to watch and his gig at The Bassline reverberated all over the cultural precinct of Newtown.
His latest Kampala tour comes on the heels of his winning the 2012 RFI-France24 Discoveries Award beating off competition from 500 African, Indian and Pacific artistes. The singer/songwriter has just signed a worldwide distribution deal with UK-based World Music Record Label, ARC Music, making his music much more accessible to the world.
And with a third album to his name, Ke Nako (It’s Time), 2013 finds Elemotho thrown into the throes of a 25-African country tour courtesy of Alliance Francaise that will be followed by an Asian sub-continent tour of India, Malaysia and Nepal. Elemotho hails from the Kalahari and plays acoustic guitar, singing in his Setswana mother tongue alongside English and Namibian languages. He is not one to be pigeon holed into one genre of music. “I see myself as a performing artiste and musical activist. I like to throw reality around, thus exploring the depth of the human spirit.” His earlier releases are The System is a Joke (2003) and Human (2008).
From a rural boy to modern lyricist, Elemotho stands out from your usual commercial and easily consumable sounds by using experimental ideas where reality is amplified through his vision of music: “I grew up with storytelling around the fire and that has inspired me to create something that could make you dance as well as listen, smile as well as cry, find peace as well as wisdom.” The Kampala concert takes place at Jazzville Bugolobi on Saturday June 1, 2013 from 8pm. Entry is free and ace guitarist Myko Ouma alongside Afro-pop chanteuse Suzan Kerunen are the opening acts.
TEXT: Moses Serugo