Who is Mponang?
Matlhogonolo Letsopa Mponang (nee Mogapi) is 42 years old and currently works as Deputy Executive Director – Corporate Services at Botswana Accountancy College (BAC). She originates from Good-Hope but grew up in both Selebi-Phikwe and schooled in Gaborone. She is married in Tonota.
DJ Lexy J: I’d like to know your relationship with music, when did the love begin? How far back can you remember?
MPONANG: From the time when I was a young child I remember the music of Ratsie Setlhako, there was a specific song called Ä re chencheng” which my father loved. My mom, being a Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) member, was always humming along to SDA hymns and so my two biggest musical influences have always represented a spiritual and religious slant together with a popular culture and even social commentary slant. For me different songs and albums conjure different images because of the memories they evoke. For me there is a causal relationship between good music, good food and good company. I still identify with the image of entertaining at home with good friends and good music and good food whilst our collective kids are running around because that is how I first got introduced to music.
DJ Lexy J: What kind of music do you love and how often do you indulge yourself?
MPONANG: I love all kinds of music. I have a very eclectic appreciation of music and I play music most of the time whilst in the car driving around or when stationary. I own music in the following genres: local and international jazz, gospel, hip-hop- local, South-African and international, house, reggae, American folk music as derived from the “negroe” spirituals, R & B.
DJ Lexy J: How has music influenced your life over the years?
MPONANG: I grew up listening to a lot of Zion Christian Council (ZCC) Hymns because we lived around the corner from where they worshipped and I am still fascinated by how the men dance into the air and do so in a manner that is so in sync with the music. As an adult, Solly Moholo resonated with me because of this and his music specifically reminds me of one of my late uncles whom I also worked with when I was starting out my career – Philip Ngwanasekgabo. I still do not feel I have been to a funeral if I do not hear the hymn “Joko ya hao e bobebe”. Earlier in my life when I was attending Meepong CJSS we would sing “Boitshwarelo jwa Modimo” at school assembly and so even today I relate to the song and I find it odd when one does not know the words to the hymn because for me it is like not knowing the words to the “Lord’s Prayer” in both Setswana and English or not knowing the words to the National Anthem. They are a fundamental part of the fabric which was my upbringing. I grew up as a teenager to the sounds of Brenda Fassie – whom I still love and Yvonne Chaka Chaka. My taste in music evolved to embrace other genres – like jazz – only when I got to University.
DJ Lexy J: Does the music you listen to now differ from what you listened to growing up?
MPONANG: I still listen to the music I grew up with. In the instance of gospel music I have broadened the artists I listen to. I grew up with Kealeboga Tlhabiwe and appreciated her sound then and now collect her music. I loved KTM growing up and still do but I now also love Joyous Celebration though I only picked up on them in recent years. Their song “Halleluja Nkateko” is one of my favourite songs. I love anything Bob Dylan. I play his album “Freewheeling” over and over again, John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”, anything Usher and I love our local artists like Punah Gabasiane, Shanti Lo, Nunu Ramogotsi, Kearoma Rantao, Nono Siele, Lister Boleseng, Juju Boy, and Third Mind. Their music is a commentary of our now and echoes our collective cultural expression.
DJ Lexy J: Can you think of any particular music/song that you associate a memory, mood, or place?
MPONANG: Tracy Chapman, The Cranberries, Fiona Apple and local and South African hip hop (namely Motswako) reminds me of my late sister Gotlhe Mogapi. I own and listen to music by Scar, Zeus, Sasa Klaas, to mention a few because of that influence from my sister. Miles Davis’s album – Kind of Blue – specifically the song “Flamenco Sketches” reminds me of my final year in Varsity because I studied to it. The Roots, Common Sense, and Nas remind me of Chicago in the summer of 1997 and my friends Jojo Mabua, George Proctor, Seseti Mogami and my ex-housemate Masemetse Baholo. Any Adventist song reminds me of my mother. The song “Sparrow” reminds me of the late Tebogo Manuhwa’s Dad singing it at his memorial service standing in front of his casket at the SDA Broadhurst church – a man resolute and sorrowful but yet so filled with grace. There are songs that remind me of the late “Mokgankgara” playing them on RB 1. When you hear the music you even feel the emotions you felt when listening to the music then. Setswana folk music reminds me of the Selebi-Phikwe market place, next to the bus rank. There would always be a musician playing his guitar and singing there to a crowd of people- young and old.
What is your all-time favourite song(s)?
MPONANG: The Botswana National Anthem; “Flamenco Sketches” by Miles Davis; and “It’s All About You”- Scar Lebadi
DJ Lexy J: Who is your all-time favourite Artist, and why?
MPONANG: Brenda Fassie, Lebo Mathosa, Bob Dylan and Miles Davis – It is a tie amongst these. Their music does not age and it is very poignant for me. Their stuff can be both happy and haunting – but always reminding us of a deeper consciousness.
DJ Lexy J: What’s on your playlist and how do you choose the music that goes onto it?
MPONANG: Ban T, Usher, Chris Brown, John Coltrane, AKA, Zeus,