Botswana’s leading musical export Lorraine Lionheart is basking on the glory of a big win in Europe - Entertainer of the Year for African Women in Europe Award. ONTAMETSE SUGAR reports that her humility is what made her reach beyond the stars.
Though based in the United Kingdom (UK) she is a philanthropist, singer and a songwriter who was born and raised in the Ghanzi area in Botswana. She was recently honoured in Switzerland at the African Women in Europe awards, and Lorraine Lionheart couldn't be happier. She has a smile that will genuinely warm your soul, and her humility is what made her reach beyond the stars. Lionheart’s childhood was spent living with Basarwa and their incredible family values are the ones that instilled in her a strong deep rooted sense of community spirit, selflessness and appreciation of life and the simple things. It was from a young age that she knew there was more to education as she was always keen on traveling geographically, mentally, psychologically and spiritually. “I have always been on a journey to discover my life's purpose and that sums up the woman I am,” she said.
Being an entertainer of course Lionheart is always amusing people and making sure that they are having a good time. But how does she have a good time herself? Spending quality time with loved ones and catching up with friends is what she prefers most. She revealed that she loves comedy and hence usually goes to a comedy club or just watch comedy at home for a few laughs. She said laughter is not something that she can live without. Of course staying in a foreign country can sometimes not be too easy for people, but Lionheart went to the UK when she was 21 years old. After so many years there she has now made the country home away from home. Apart from the extreme winter that she is not really getting used to, she is having a good time. She believes what is helping her to slowly make her dreams come true is the fact that she has stayed true to who she really is, a Motswana woman. She said she has never tried to be western but rather she appreciates the western culture and have to adapt to it but not to adopt it and neglect her heritage. She said her honesty and being comfortable with her true identity is what has made people feel they can relate with her creations because it is who she is.
When asked about marriage and kids Lionheart didn't shy away as she revealed that she was married for eight years, but it couldn’t work out. She said she has accepted that as one of her failures as a human being. From the marriage she has a gorgeous six years old boy. At the moment she is not looking for any potential suitor, but rather she believes in love and she can't rule out having more kids in the future. She said to avoid loneliness she has learnt to enjoy her own company and she feels that it is important to be on her own now and then. She said she feels homesick most of the time, missing her family and the friends that she has in Botswana, the traditional food and the sands of the Kalahari.
On whether she had insecurities as a young girl and if she still has them now, she said it is probably strange since she has more insecurities now than she did when she was a kid. When young, she said she was very confident and unstoppable, so lively and driven, but now she is constantly trying to bring some of that magic back that has been erased a little by a few harsh life experiences. She is learning to love and accept herself for who she is and most importantly believe in who she can become. She said she believes in the concept of feeling the fear and doing it anyway. “Insecurities will always be there, so the best that I can do is not let them hold me back,” she said. She added that like her talents they are a big part of what makes her who she is as she believes that they are not meant to destroy her but they are there to challenge her to become a better person. Though many people might refer to their biggest achievement as winning something, being promoted or maybe owning something big, Lionheart seems to be different as she said that her biggest achievement so far is discovering her calling in life and finding the courage to go out of her comfort zone and use her passion to fulfil her life's purpose. She said she believes her calling in life is to become a humanitarian but rather her artistic talent is just a vehicle that she was blessed with to help her get there and through the journey.
Love for Botswana
She said her career has been greatly influenced by various things ranging from the Basarwa tribe, her grandmother and her son. According to her, having a son kick-started her career because she couldn’t bear not to be a role model and an inspiration to him. She referred to her best friend Mpho Pilane who stays in Botswana as someone who believed in her before she could even believe in herself. She said Pilane’s faith is the one that gave her confidence to take a chance and do something with her talent. She also recognised her producer Jon Lawton in Liverpool who helped shape and develop her unique style of music as he is such a talented, passionate and easy to work with musician. With Botswana being a huge part of her, Lionheart said she never disconnected or tried to, but it is like she lives a double life as she keeps up with all that is happening in the country and social media has made it even easier. She said it is a deep affiliation that she has to Botswana and a strong desire to give back and contribute positively to Botswana as she recognises that she wouldn’t be who she is if it wasn’t because of being born and raised in Botswana. On whether she will definitely come back to the country that brought her up, she said would but she just needed to establish a robust structure that will ensure that her living in Botswana again will be beneficial to a lot of people. She is working on that. On when she will give Batswana the opportunity to appreciate her performing on stage, she said she will do that soon.
When commenting on local artists she said artists get involved in the arts for the different reasons. As for her as an artist it is all about staying true to who someone is really is and embracing their true identity not just following trends. “Originality is the key for me, but what works for me may not work for other people,” she said. She revealed that she is keen to work with Batswana artists to promote the Botswana artistic brand to the global community. Her plans for the future are mostly about charity and humanitarian work. She also wants to become a writer of books and she is on a mission to live her life in such a way that even if she does not manage to impact as many lives as she would wish to when she is alive, she wants to do something that even when she is gone the story of her life will at least inspire positive change.
When talking about her recent accolade - Music artist and Entertainer of the Year for African Women in Europe - she said it was an extremely humbling and encouraging recognition. She believes that a huge success like that comes with responsibilities where she can't wait to explore the challenges it brings. She said she hopes that the platform it creates will aid her to achieve some of her many charity goals. Lionheart said the best advise she has ever been given was getting told that wanting to be someone is a waste of the person you are and that everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle, so be kind.
It goes without say that the media plays a huge role in shaping the society and even perceptions about people, and in how she had to deal with negative publicity or pushy media Lionheart warmly said that she tended to assume that not all critics are mean. She said she believes that even the mean ones are entitled to their opinions and she knows very well that she cannot control other people's opinions of her but can only work harder on her opinion of herself. “Luckily I have never had scandals or anything really that I consider bad publicity,” she said. She added that though sometimes people have questioned her motives for engaging in some charitable work, she doesn’t let those get to her because she knows that she can never reach her destination if she stops and throw stones at every dog that barks.
She said that the three people that she would like to perform with are Miriam Makeba, Yossou N'Dour and Peter Gabriel. On whether there is a difference between an artist and a musician according to her, she said that she tends to resort to referring to musicians as those who play musical instruments and artists as creators and developers or composers. She said musicians can also be artistic in how they play their instruments, and that performers are also artistic in how they use their skills to entertain. She said she considers herself to be a singer, songwriter and believes that she is artistic in how she writes, compose and perform. She insisted: “Without music I will be lost, music is a powerful universal language. Support music because your soul needs it. My music makes me feel enlightened, empowered and free and I will rather be stuck in the forest with access to internet.”