CHENGETA: My name is Johnson Gabautlwane Chengeta. I was born many many years ago in a small but beautiful village called Zwenshambe. The village is located in the north eastern part of Botswana close to the Zimbabwean border. I trained as a teacher of agriculture and later as a curriculum specialist. I have authored a number of textbooks, many of which are currently used in primary and secondary schools in Botswana. I was the Managing Director for Hodder & Stoughton, Collegium Educational Publishers and Diamond Educational Publishers. Currently I am the Board Chairperson for Diamond Educational Publishers. At the moment I am looking for a job, though with no hope of getting one.
DJ LEXY J: I’d like to know your relationship with music, when did the love begin? How far back can you remember?
CHENGETA: Music has always been part and parcel of my life from an early age. I play music when relaxing at home, driving a car, working, etc. Most of the time when I am relaxing at home, I tend to listen to music while at the same time watching television. Television does not in any way distract me from listening to my music. When I am driving, I must listen to music. I can’t imagine getting into a car and driving around without listening to music. I would certainly be bored to death.
DJ LEXY J: What kind of music do you love and how often do you indulge yourself?
CHENGETA: I like different types of music as long as it sounds good to my ears. It goes without saying that a man of my age would have grown up at the time when Mbaqanga music was popular. Hence I still love listening to the old mbaqanga music (which we called “Msakazo”) especially every Saturday evening on RB1. Mbaqanga music always reminds me of my roots, humble beginnings and the time when gumba gumbas were playing loud music with speakers hung on trees or poles. You could hear the music from a long distance and could even dance to it from the distance. Those were the days when music records were the in-thing; when there were no by-law officers to confiscate your sound system because of the noise pollution; when we had to pay to have a song played during parties or certain festivities; when we walked long distances to go and dance to the music because we did not have gumba gumba of our own, etc. Besides mbaqanga, I also enjoy listening to jazz, reggae, soul, dance and gospel music. Though I have not been a frequent visitor to any church building for many years now, I still enjoy gospel music.
DJ LEXY J: How has music influenced your life over the years?
CHENGETA: Music has played a great part in whatever I do. At an early age, I got used to playing and listening to various kinds of music. Whenever I was engaged in activities that require high levels of concentration such as reading, taking notes, studying for examinations and writing manuscripts for textbooks, music helped me to focus all my attention on the task. On the spiritual side, music has helped shape my character, beliefs, attitudes and the way I relate with other people. When the going gets tough, it is music that helps me cross the bridge.
DJ LEXY J: Does the music you listen to now differ from what you listened to growing up?
CHENGETA: Nowadays, there has been a rapid rise in the production of local music by our artists. The music is of good quality and I enjoy listening to most of it. During the yester-years, I listened to music mainly from South African artists such as Babsy Mlangeni, H. Masikela, Mariam Makeba, I. Shakashaka, etc. Nowadays we have our vibrant musicians such as Ndingo Jowa, Lizibo, Vee, MC Maswe, Charma girl, to mention but a few who have come up with music that I enjoy listening to alongside my mbaqanga. I still, however, fail to appreciate the type of music that my son plays or listens to (which he calls “rap”). I hope as time goes on I will learn much more about it.
DJ LEXY J: Can you think of any particular music/song that you associate a memory, mood, or place with?
CHENGETA: Not really. Many songs that I listen to can trigger memories of events that I may have experienced or that occurred when the song was still new and or popular. Again, such memories will depend on my mood at the time of listening to the songs. For instance, when I hear Rex Rabanye’s song “o nketsang”, I am reminded of the time when Samora Machel died in a plane crush. The song was still new when the tragedy occurred and RB1 used to play it a lot. Unfortunately, some of the memories are not that pleasant to discuss.
DJ LEXY J: What is your all-time favourite artist and why?
CHENGETA: I don’t have an all-time favourite artist. Artists come and go just as songs may be popular today and out of favour after sometime.
DJ LEXY J: So long, have yourself a super duper day!