The character, the cartoon and the celeb!
For 21 years Botswana’s very own cartoon character Mabijo has been entertaining masses or his followers who cut across the wide spectrum of society. And like wine he has grown better with age as he can now stand up and be counted amongst the country’s top entertainers.
But who is Mabijo, who is his creator and what kind of a person is he, is he really problematic or he’s just a misunderstood man? These are some of the questions that many people had out there for both Mabijo and his creator, Tebogo Motswetla and this week the two took time to field the questions. Knowing the type of a man that Mabijo is, always wanting to be visible and listened to more than others we decided to give him the platform first so he can be heard before his creator.
How are you related to Tebogo Motswetla?
Oh! That one, o a impateletsa, he goes around telling people that we are related just because I am a celeb. He was born at our cattle post, he used to look after my father’s goats. I understand he is now in Gabs.
Q. You seem to be so much against ma14, where is the hatred coming from?
Aish! Ma14 have impoverished me, look at my shoes, dintse ditshetlha. Today they want cell phone top range, tomorrow nzamela, airtime, doorframe etc, the next day they are gone. But I must admit, they are stunningly gorgeous, I really love ma14.
Q. Do you have a girlfriend, if not, why and if yes, why is it that you never talk about her?
Yes and No, fa ke iponela mmadirabanyana ha simolola go phatsima mathaka ba nchaya two feet. I hope to keep one after buying nabara, ga ona kgaitsadio hoo melaiti?
What makes you tick?
Click! Like a mouse? Aish! Moving with times, romantish voice, the way I walk, especially when I see the crowd with a lot of banuza, I wish you can see me o tla a ja dijo.
Q. When are you going to the State House to have a chat with President Khama?
Very soon I will be there. For your information, the President ke di-home, from the same ward ko Sejapi. I want to find out about a formula of keeping Afro hair, I want to throw away my hat but I don’t want chesele. I want to propose to him to start a new ministry of Humour and Laughology under my able leadership.
Q. What is your take on the current political situation in the country?
Oh! It’s really getting more exciting, go na le metsametsano. Actually I also want to form my own party. My vision is to recruit all the bachelors and ask our neighbouring President to address the party on Growth using the biblical concept of be fruitful and multiply in a diminutive population. Marriage will be the prerequisite for our party post. Whoever wishes to fund this party can call me, I will be in charge of the party funds.
Q. What is your attitude towards alcohol, sex and condoms?
Booz! I don’t like it, except ha ke bata go itsenya mo plakeng to face the girl I really want, or when I’m going through a frustrating situation, unfortunately it never solves any of my problems, instead it brings more sorrows. Sex and condoms, I don’t want anyone under age to be asking me this question, I get even scared when asked by someone from the same sexual orientation, so I want to see your Omang first before I answer this question, thank you.
In the Shadow of…
The creator of the notorious Bijos
Q. When was Mabijo created and why?
I started Mabijo in 1989, the year that I became a born-again Christian but I never planned it that way, it just happened simultaneously. I started the cartoon because it is something that I had always wanted to do. Art and graphic design has always been my passion as I started drawing when I was 6 years old, so it was question of trying to realize my dream and I must say I am happy to have done that.
Q. And the name Mabijo, where did it come from and is his character of someone that you know?
Mabijo is my uncle’s nickname but his character is very different from the cartoon’ character. Naming the character after my uncle was to honour (him) as he is one person that I really respect and because he had great talent in boxing but never pursued it because he got sick and therefore could not continue fighting.
Q. How do you think Batswana perceive cartoons and can you make a living by just being a cartoonist?
Judging from the way people like Mabijo, I think I can say Batswana do appreciate cartoons. The problem though is that we don’t have many platforms as cartoonists to explore our talent, if we had then we one could survive by just being a cartoonist.
Q. It appears as though Mabijo never runs out of things to say much to the amusement of people despite the fact that he has been around for a long time, where do ideas and inspiration come from?
It’s all about passion, I am so passionate about Mabijo and I always thrive to make sure he is never boring. I also get the inspiration from people around me and the things that I come across and daily experience. I must also mention that seeing people reading and laughing because of Mabijo gives me the inspiration to continue dishing out more.
Q. Any challenges faced and have you ever been accused of crossing paths because of Mabijo?
The greatest challenge is to come up with interesting humorous cartoons but judging from the feedback that I get it seems I am doing well. So far I haven’t crossed anybody’s path and I hope it stay that way. The intention is not to provoke people but to make them laugh.
Q. How much does Mabijo take over your life and do you feel he is overshadowing you?
I am a full time employee of the University of Botswana and so there is no way Mabijo can completely take over me. And yes he overshadows me because people know Mabijo more than the person behind him but I am not all worried about that.
Q. Have you made any fortunes from Mabijo?
Not yet but maybe I will one day when Mabijo has really grown as a cartoon character because this is what I am working on. I want to see him reach a certain level and when he does reach that level I am sure I will then start reaping the monetary rewards.
Q. What level are we talking about here?
When he appeals to everyone, I want him to be a household name in Botswana.
Q. How are sales for Mabijo booklet volume one and when can we expect volume two?
The booklet is doing well and plans are underway to take it to other parts of the country because it is not available countrywide. Volume two is expected beginning of next year.
Q. And any plans of taking Mabijo to the international level or animating him for TV?
Yes, plans are there to take Mabijo to the international market and to have him on television. I have actually started working on that part but I cannot say exactly when people will be watching Mabijo on TV or have him on DVD.
Full names: Tebogo Motswetla
Date of birth: May 15, 1969
Place of birth: Serowe
Academic achievement: Masters in Two Dimensional and Digital Design
Marital status: Married with one daughter
Holiday destination: Israel
Car(s) driving: Toyota Corolla and Hilux SR
Music playing in his car: Gospel
Pastime: Exercising and spending time at the cattle post
Greatest achievement: Realising his dream of being a cartoonist
Mentor: Herge (creator of Tintin cartoons)
Favourite cartoon animation: Pink Panther
Book currently reading: Talent is never enough by John Maxwell