There is no doubt that talented local musician, Lizibo Glen Simon is a typical example of how dynamite surely comes in small packages.
Looking at him, the pint sized artist can pass for any other ordinary young men yet when he stands behind the microphone he mesmerises his audience with Afro-pop and RnB beats like no other.
This week, Voice reporter Leonard Matota sat down with the 28 -year-old who traces his roots to Zwenshambe, a small village in the northern region to find out more about the man behind the likes of ‘Otla mmona ko kae’, ‘Wakanana’ and ‘Shetla Lame’.
Q. Good day Lizibo, how are you?
If it wasn’t that my friend has just lost her father, I would say I am all good.
Q. I am sorry about that, our sincere condolences to her.
Thank you, I am sure she will appreciate that.
Q. So tell me, who is ‘Mafana Wa Style’?
(Laughs) You don’t waste time hey. Well, as you already know I am a proud Kalanga guy from Zwenshambe.
However, growing up I lived in different places such as my home village, Gaborone, Molepolole and Orapa.
So this exposed me to our wide diverse culture and made me appreciate the beauty of Botswana.
Q. Looking at your height, were you not a victim of bullies at school?
Fortunately not! But here and there some would tease me and make fun of my height.
I think I was saved by the fact that I was a good singer and whenever the teachers were not around I would lead the school choir.
So I always had the support of many students looking forward to choir practices and teachers who appreciated my talent, short as I am.
Q. So music saved you from being bullied?
To a certain extent yes and I am thankful to God for giving me this talent.
Who knows what could have happened to me if I was just a nobody.
Q. Speaking of talent when did you discover your ability to sing?
I come from a family of musicians. My grandmother was into traditional music while my parents were into choral.
Back in the days when I was still a boy, my step-dad used to pick me up from school then I would go with him to his practice at KTM (Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete) choir.
So I developed the love for music there and I would always use what I learnt from KTM to my advantage at school.
Q. So music runs in your family?
You can say that again, but I strongly believe I am who I am because of KTM choir.
It made me who I am, I learnt a lot from the late Gomolemo Motswaledi, who was my mentor, my friend and a brother to me. (MHSRP)
Q. Wow! So you were close to Sir G, can you share one of the many lessons you learnt from him.
It’s hard to pick one because he was an outspoken person, but because Sir G realised my love for music he taught me to be always humble if I wanted to be successful.
Every time when he realised that someone was talking about him but afraid to approach him he would say “Okare mokawana yole o nale le loeto lele telele la go bata go bua le nna, jaanong mma ke mo hokoletse mosepele ke ye ko go ene” (it’s like that gentle man has a long journey in trying to speak to me, so let me cut his journey short and go to him) and he would do just that.
Q. In a nut shell, how best would you describe Sir G?
He was a fair person, the reason I am saying this is because when he joined politics he resigned from the directorship of the choir because he understood that the choir was made of different people with different party affiliations.
Q. So do you think Motswaledi would have made a great leader of this country if given the chance?
I don’t think I am better placed to answer that as we were not politically connected and never discussed politics.
I knew him more personally and in the music circles, and what I can tell you is that Motswaledi was a good leader.
Q. Fair enough, so tell me why did you decide to quit KTM Choir?
Music is all about growth, I had my fair chance of being part of KTM Choir just like the likes of Punah, Nnunu and others who were once members of the choir.
They grew and went on to do their own things just like I did with my two friends when we decided form a group ‘The Royal Tenors’, which is an opera outfit.
Q. But you still left the group as well, did you guys fight?
No, not at all, the group is still very functional. Whenever we need advice from each other we talk.
Like I said it’s all about growth, so as I continued to grow up I wanted my own thing.
That’s why I didn’t suggest that the group be dissolved but instead I consulted my mates and left the group and began a solo career.
From Choral to Opera and now Afro Pop and RnB. Are you in search of a genre?
I have found my love, even when I was in my previous genres I loved the song ‘Matshidiso’ by Kgotla.
That song according to me is still a hit, but not only him.
There are other Afro Pop artist who came before me and laid the foundation, the likes of Mr. Tagg and Thulie, that’s why I honoured them recently at ‘One Man Show’ that I organized.
Q. Speaking of the One Man Show that was held at Maitisong, it was actually your first, how was it?
Yooh! My brother I don’t know how to explain this but the show was a huge success.
Putting up a four hour performance on stage is not a joke, it takes months of sleepless nights to perfect it.
But you know Batswana came in large numbers to support me and it made it a whole lot easier to perform.
They sang with me the entire time and I could see it in their faces that they were looking forward to my next act.
Q. Congratulations on that! Will the people up north also see you perform?
Definitely! These shows are meant to celebrate our 50th independence anniversary.
This is my thank you gift to Batswana, I am looking at the month of November to put up another One Man Show in Francistown.
Q. I am sure they will enjoy that, especially the Kalanga hit song ‘Tjimunyamunya’
I hope so, you know I never thought this song would be so popular.
I was inspired to write it by my uncle who has been married for more than 30 years.
One day when we were home he called us and said “Buyani Mu bone Tjimunyamunya Changu” meaning come and see my loli-pop or sweet referring to my aunt.
That’s how he calls his wife to this day.
Q. You worked at Multichoice at some point, didn’t you get a long queue of customers wanting to be assisted by Lizibo.
Well it happened but not all the time, and whenever it did my boss never complained as he knew that I was also an artist.
At times I would be busy trying to assist clients and they would be busy taking pictures.
Q. I bet most of them were ladies, how do you keep up with them when you are with your lady friend?
Eish, it’s not an easy thing but I try and do my best and fortunately she understands because we come a long way.
She knows there are places we can go to and those that we can’t go together for obvious reasons!
Q. May be it’s about time you put a ring on it, don’t you think?
(Laughs) I knew you were getting there. Believe me I will, when I perform at weddings I learn a few things here and there.
So rest assured I am going to marry her, rather sooner than later.
Q: Thank you! Now, Feel Good its Friday, What are you up?
This Friday I will be performing for the first time in my home Village, Zwenshambe and I am very excited about it.
Then for the rest of the weekend I will still be there for my relatives’ wedding.