The sound of success

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MUSIC MAKER: Thato Kavinja (PIC by Nat Geo)

Nkashi wins international award

Films about Botswana cannot be considered complete without the unique sounds of the country – so says Meghan Olson, Coordinator of National Geographic Society’s Impact Communications.

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Olson’s comments came after Nat Geo’s Botswana-based film, ‘Nkashi: Race for the Okavango’ won big at the Jackson Wild Media Awards in Wyoming, USA, on Thursday.

Beating off stiff competition from around the world, the polished production came out tops in the ‘Origional Music Score’ category.

“The Jackson Wild Media Awards are some of the most prestigious in the world of nature filmmaking, and this year’s competition saw over 1, 100 category entries from 74 countries.”

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Filmed in Botswana, in the local Setswana language, ‘Nkashi’ features six tracks by local musician Thato Kavinja – aka Koolkat Motyiko – best known for his hit song ‘Ko Seronga’.

“Having grown up in the Delta, I relate with ‘Nkashi: Race for the Okavango’ on many levels; after all, it’s about my home, Seronga, and our Wayei heritage,” Kavinja was quoted.

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“In many ways, my music is about returning to one’s roots, and I treasured the opportunity to make music for ‘Nkashi’ for that very reason. When we tell a Botswana story, it’s even more powerful when it’s set to our home-grown music and instruments that carry the sounds, emotions and melodies of the Delta,” he added.

The film includes two tracks from the Nature Environment and Wildlife Filmmakers (NEWF) Composers Lab, which saw musicians from Botswana, South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Morocco, Nigeria and France invited to the Delta for a multi-day, immersive experience.

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“The team curated a musical score that engages local musicians and embodies the sounds, rhythms, instruments, and expressions of the Okavango Delta…The fellows each brought an instrument from their respective country to show the unique music of different African countries,” continues Olson’s press release.

Over 450 films entered the competition and finalists were selected by more than 200 international judges, with ‘Nkashi’ falling short in the ‘Global Voices’ category.

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“At the National Geographic Society, we believe in the power of stories and storytelling across the globe. This is evident in the grants we give and the projects we produce ourselves, and we’re incredibly proud to be recognized for this work by Jackson Wild,” said Kaitlin Yarnall, the Society’s chief storytelling officer.

For his part, one of the film’s producers, National Geographic Explorer, Thalefang Charles, noted Nkashi was different from the films that have come before.

“Traditionally, films about the Okavango Delta have rarely featured people, and seldom were they even shown or made available to audiences in Botswana. It has been an honor to take this film from Botswana to the world, and I hope it will help set a precedent for other filmmakers to collaborate with local storytellers and return films to the communities where they were made.”

Famed for his prowess with the pen as much as the camera, Charles continued, “Mokoro polers are the ‘living libraries’ of the Delta and through the Nkashi film, their stories and traditional knowledge will live on and be passed to future generations. And now people in Botswana and the world over know the Delta is not only rich in nature and incredible wildlife, but in culture and community.”

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