When he walks in, wearing all black and his trademark cap one could take him for a younger man. But this is veteran musician Tshepo Tshola who brought his 62nd birthday celebrations to Botswana this past week. No suits; no ties – just in his usual smart casual wear that is never complete without a cap. He has been in Botswana for the past week, and decided to celebrate his birthday – August 18th – at the new hangout spot in Gabane called DNCC. The man, who is popularly known as The Village Pope even though he might come off as very arrogant, has still got his alluring charm that he defined him for years. On how it feels to be 62, Tshola radiated and said it feels like he is 16 all over again. One thing that was striking about the old man is his sense of humour. If you are short tempered you would think that he is rubbing you the wrong way but of course that is not surprising for a man who has done hundreds of interviews in his life. He could strike you as rude, but when you sit a little bit longer with him you will realise that he is just a sweet old man.
Why party here
He has over the years amassed a huge contingent of local friends and this is the bunch that extended him the invitation to him to come and celebrate his birthday here. He had long wanted to come back to Botswana before he was invited by Holly Ghost Church here in Botswana to celebrate with them their anniversary. Local friends then took advantage of him being here and organised a party for him. The host of the event Fatima Gabatshwane - the owner of the Gabane place – suggested that they host it a different place, but Tshola insisted on her place. “She is one of my little girls, and when she said I should choose a place, I was like no your place is fine,” he said. Gabatshwane said they were honoured to have him alongside some of the local legends who came to celebrate with him. He said they put the event together because they recognised the contribution that he has made in the local music industry as well as South Africa where is based though originally from Lesotho.
With every gesture that showed and proved that he was enjoying his own birthday party, Tshola said he was grateful that it was held at a place where he can just socialise easily with the many people that came to celebrate with him. The husky voiced artist said God has made Botswana his home where he can’t refer to it as a second or third home but just home. Local jazz maestros both young and old were in attendance from the legendary Banjo Mosele, Punah Gabasiane, Shanti Lo, Kearoma Rantao, Nnunu Ramogotsi and Nono Siile. He said he loved the ambience of the whole event, as it was at the outdoor area of the club where anyone can just approach him and talk to him, other than when it was at a more formal venue. He came with one of his friends Tau Malebo from Lesotho. He said celebrating his birthday in Botswana was very noble and humbling. He recognised Botswana for playing a very important role growing his music and his brand since Batswana have always supported him. He referred to Botswana as a place where his music journey started.
One of the highlights of the singer’s life was that in 2002 he released an album called New Dawn, signalling a fresh start for him after he recovered from drug addiction. Tshola did not want to open up about his life after so many years of being free from drug addiction. He said that part of him has long been over, and he has been a new person since then. His captivating, and the utterly unique voice that is dazzling has stood the test of time. In the middle of the interview, he kept on humming to songs that were playing on the playground. Religion has always seemed to play a very imperative role in his life as it is heard in most of his songs like Oena Fela where he sings that he believes in God alone as His only rock. One thing that he proved that he still has is his slow graceful dancing skills even after 45 years of being in the music industry. The other song of his that has always resonated in the local radios is Shine Your light. His music is timelessly inspiring and uplifting new generations. On his free time Tshola watches more of television. He rather revealed that he doesn’t think he will ever stops working as he is always up to something even when he thinks he is not doing anything.
When commenting on him one of his friends Kebonatshwene Mosielele reiterated his experiences with the man that first captured the public’s imagination as the leader of the semi eighties Afro beat group Sankomota. Mosielele said he met him in the 1980s. He referred to him as a man who controls himself so adequately and eloquently. He said during their time in the 1980s when Tshola came to settle in Botswana for some time, they were called Mascotch. They were a group of young men who liked each other and came together once a month to organise parties so that people can have a good time. He said they were very close friends where they visited each other in both Lesotho and Botswana, and there was also a time when they were in London together. “There are so many things to say about him because he transformed the arts in Southern Africa and created a legacy that continues to live,” Mosielele said.