Veterans, Ngoni and Mkhuhlani to exhibit in the Ghetto
In 2018 Keoagile ‘Spokes’Bonang had a dream of putting together a detailed book about Francistown and the city’s surrounding.
Unfortunately for the larger-than-life Mmegi photographer, no one bought into his dream.
“No one was willing to sponsor the project, so I had to suspend it,” he told Voice Entertainment in an exclusive interview this week.
The temporary setback, however, could not derail Bonang’s vision.
At the start of the year, he conceptualised the Francistown Arts Meeting, an exhibition that would shine a spotlight on visual artists in the second city and around Botswana.
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“I knocked on many doors to sell this idea and eventually Mascom Wireless gave us a positive response with a P76, 000, sponsorship for the three-day exhibition,” explained the experienced cameraman, adding the sponsorship was unveiled at the inaugural MascomBatanani walk last month.
Bonang had initially wanted to go it alone, but realised collaboratingwith a colleague could bear richer fruits.
Thus he decided to rope in Mpho Hakim,a Francistown-based photographer from Sunday Standard.
Bonang is quick to statehe was inspired by fellow photojournalists, PakoLesejane and Thalefang Charles, who recently held exhibitions of their own.
“Their exhibitions lit a spark and I immediately knew what I had to do!”
Scheduled for 28 – 30 November, The Francistown Arts Meeting will feature at least 35 visual artists.
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“For two days it will be indoor at the Civic Centre and on the third day the exhibition will move to the Kenneth Nkhwa Interchange,” revealed Bonang, disclosing that five categories, namely: painting, photography, sculpting, drawing and string art will be represented.
“Currently we have registered 25 exhibitors and hopefully more will come. We’ll also have three guests exhibitors in the renowned Wilson Ngoni, Obed Mkhuhlani and Loretta Mekgwe,” he said, adding that they also have two spots for student artists.
“We believe if these youngsters rub shoulders with the likes of Ngoni, it’ll go a long way in shaping their artistic excellence. Ngoni is currently exhibiting in Germany and he’ll be here to share his wealth of knowledge with Francistown people,” continued the bubbly Bonang.
He said the exhibition, which he plans to grow into an annual event, was designed to give visual artists a rare platform to come together and show the world what they are capable of.
“Unlike performing arts, visual artists seem to be marginalised. That is why registration is free and mounting boards are given freely. We may include other forms of arts like fashion as the event grows,” he said.
Looking to the future, Bonang plans to grow the initiative beyond the borders of Botswana.
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“Neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe have similar events. We hope that as time progresses some of our exhibitors will be given an opportunity to take their art to recognisable exhibitions in countries like Zimbabwe and South Africa.”
With just 27 days left before the inaugural exhibition,Bonang said they are still in negotiations with the Francistown City Council on a mural they intend to design for the city as a thank you.
“We are planning a 8mx5m mural featuring Kenneth Nkhwa, ObedChilume, Phillip Matante and John Selolwane who we feel is also a Francistown native and deserve recognition for the role he has played in growing the arts.
“It is an idea we hope our authorities will consider. However, if they don’t the exhibition will go on and we call on Botswana to come in large numbers to appreciate local art,” concluded the lens-man, flashing a smile as bright as the colourful pictures he is famous for.