An eye for business
Flamboyant businessman and the Managing Director of Leshman Holdings, Resego Leshman Matenge is determined to make a mark in the entertainment industry.
Having been plagued by controversy in the past, the 39-year-old Matenge native appears to have put his troubles firmly behind him and turned over a respectable new leaf.
Apart from focusing on his one-year-old son, the reformed family man has managed to attract one of the world’s iconic bands, UB40 back to Botswana.
28 years after they first dazzled the country, the reggae outfit will perform at the National Stadium on the 18th of November in one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the year.
Leshman is well known for his love of fashion and fast cars – his collection of luxury watches include a Hublot and Raddo.
This week, Voice reporter Daniel Chida caught up with the man local Kwasa sensation Charma Gal calls her lover, to find out what makes him tick.
Q. What type of business are you involved in?
A. I have a Logistics company, which I started in 2009.
It deals with transporting goods across Africa but recently business has been slow because of competition from foreign companies and the market price.
However, despite these developments, I did not sit down and watch but decided to open a sister company, which focuses on supplying heavy plants parts.
Besides that I am also into entertainment industry through my events managements company.
Q. Can you take us back to where it all started?
A. Everything started at Monarch in Francistown at a tender age.
I used to do part time jobs during school breaks. During football games I sold oranges and sweets at the stadium.
After that I came to Gaborone and worked for a company, buying and selling cars for people.
With my savings, I opened my first business, which was dealing with public phones at Nkoyaphiri.
The revenue was good since there were not many cell phones back then.
With my logistics company struggling, I started the Gaborone Annual Spring Concert.
This is the company that will be bringing UB40 to our country.
Q. How has the response to the concert been?
A. I am expecting a full house since I am getting enquiries from Europe, especially Germany and other African countries.
This will not only benefit the entertainment industry but also accommodation, cabs, security and catering companies.
Q. Why UB40?
A. I wanted to give our senior citizens a show to take them back – I want to cater for them.
You have to remember that the group once came here and it will be good for them to also enjoy.
We tend to cater for youth and those around the youth bracket, and forget the elders.
Q. There has been controversy surrounding UB40 since they split into two separate groups in 2008. What’s your take on this?
A. The negativity surrounding UB40 will never end; even the time they came to perform in South Africa there was that negativity.
I am bringing the founders who are Ali Campbell, Castro and Mickey.
They are touring North East and Europe now.
Today, the band that I am bringing here is the one regarded as the real UB40 by its followers internationally.
Q. The cost of tickets for the event, with some being sold at P3, 500 and the cheapest going for P300 (up until the 25th of September), has been widely criticised – what’s your response to this?
A. I know there has been an outcry in pricing; we can’t have the same prices as South Africa because of our population.
In South Africa they play in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town but here they come to Gaborone only.
Our VVIP includes refreshments, food and parking but in South Africa it is just front seats.
Apart from VVIP tickets, other prices are the same.
Q. Organising such a big show must come with all sorts of challenges – can you give us an insight?
A. Getting a sponsor for an event here is a challenge, especially if your names are not known. Instead of looking at what you are bringing, sponsors check if your family is known – if not then you are doomed.
We have artists who we should be helping become celebrities but companies don’t want to make them celebrities! Why? It is because of jealousy.
We have to help each other. In South Africa, South African tourism, airwaves and Municipalities help in promoting arts.
The other issue is shortage of venues. We rely on the National Stadium and my wish is that we can build alternative venues.
Q. Recently, a lack of security has become a notable problem at music events. Can you reassure the public that security won’t be a problem at your show?
A. I know there was a stampede at the GIMC, which lead to a loss of life, May Her Soul Rest in Peace.
But people were wrong to use the aftermath to attack the promoter.
The GIMC has been held for the past three years without any problem, so what happened is a lesson to all of us.
It is like we wait for people’s downfall and celebrate that instead of advising them.
Q. So what measures do you have in place to avoid a repeat of the GIMC tragedy?
A. This is an event for senior citizens. However, I have hired a reputable company that deals with crowd control.
They have experience with big crowds since they have been working in big shows such as the Cape Town Jazz Festival.
VVIP tickets holders will have parking at the stadium while some will park at the GSS grounds.
We will have floodlights there with security and use park and ride system.
We are also going to barricade the Notwane Grounds and people without tickets will not be allowed near the stadium.
All entrances will be opened and each ticket will indicate which gate to use.
Q. After UB40, what should people expect in the future?
A. If things go accordingly, we will have to bring Phil Collins next year then Bryan Adams and U2 as time goes on.
Q. What happened to R Kelly?
A. We were supposed to bring R Kelly but they later told us he had changed booking agents.
We quickly slotted UB40 instead.
Q. Is there any arrangement for local artists?
A. I have an arrangement for them to interact with the band before the show.
I want to see some of our artists featuring with established groups in Europe; we cannot always do things with South African artists if we expect them to grow.
Q. You are dating a celeb, Charma Gal – when should we expect a wedding?
A. Don’t worry you will be the first to get an invite once we do that.
Q. What role do you play in her music?
A. I help her to be professional and not take her talent for fun.
Q. The controversial song ‘Ke Ya Mmokolodi’, is it about you?
A. Hahaha I think she was just trying to be creative – I cannot say it is about me though I have some of the similarities in the things she mentioned in her lyrics.
Q. Finally, how are you going to spend your weekend?
A. I spend most of my weekends indoors and cooking traditional food for my family.