Daniel Thotobolo Mogami is a 46 year old Motswapong from the Mogami clan in Lerala. He was born in Letlhakeng amongst the Tshaila clan where his mother originates. He is a Performing Arts Curriculum Specialist with the Ministry of Basic Education in the Department of Curriculum Development & Evaluation and holds the position of Principal Education Officer (I). His job is to coordinate all practical subjects, curriculum activities in the department. He is an artist, arts educator, arts adjudicator, culture provocateur, musicologist, music consultant, writer, poet, host of corporate events and motivational speaker.
DJ LEXY J: I’d like to know your relationship with music, when did the love begin? How far back can you remember?
MOGAMI: My relationship with music started like love on first sight; we have always courted each other since my primary school years where I sang in all musical sections up to secondary school where I was presented a keyboard instrument by Mosienyane & Partners. At Tirelo Sechaba I led the Xhumo Village Health Choir to the national championship. As a choral conductor I led Kutlwano Primary, Tshegetsang JSS, Kgari Sechele Senior, Dinyetse Crime Prevention, Molepolole College, Tapologo JSS, Werda Crime Prevention, BTU Choristers, KMS Trust Choir, Tlokweng Choral and many choral groups that I continue to work with. This musical journey was shared with friends and mentors like Bushy Bogosing, Gwen Kgabi, Molefe Molefe, G.F. Jeremiah, Dr. Phuthego, R. Ragalase, G. Motswaledi, David Slater. All these led to my studies in music up to Masters Level, securing a full time profession in the music industry specifically the Music Education sector. I have worked with local musical projects like the music camp, President’s concert, Maitisong festival, son of the soil, folklore association and international projects like CIIMDA in Pretoria and Kultur I Vast in Sweden. I am a four time BOMU Awards adjudicator; member of the task team that drafted the Copyright Act, member of the National Intangible Heritage Committee, facilitates Creative Industries Entrepreneurship. I have led the Development of adjudication sheets for the President’s competitions; and adjudicate across all forms of performing arts. The studies and work experience introduced me to almost all musical genres and sub-genres widening my understanding of music as an art form. My active leading role in music dates from as far as 1988.
DJ LEXY J: What kind of music do you love and how often do you indulge yourself?
MOGAMI: As a Music Educator I have learnt to appreciate all musical genres and sub-genres and I am always listening to something. My major defining point is the issue of using sound and its elements to identify myself. So when all is said and done and all the genres explored it comes to what have I learnt by enhancing my identity through sound. I feel lost if I use sounds from other parts of the world as my identity so this makes our Traditional Folk Music my favourite.
NB: Not local artists playing foreign sounds and their elements but traditional local sounds and their elements. We need a signature sound as a country and it can only be sourced from our roots starting with our basic compound duple metre for all our rhythms.
DJ LEXY J: How has music influenced your life over the years?
MOGAMI: I live, eat and dream music through playing musical instruments like the keyboard, guitar, recorder, djembe drums and singing. These provide a spiritual balance that keeps my emotions, feelings and physical being intact. I seek solace in music when happy, sad, annoyed and angry or in any emotional state. I tap a rhythm on my steering wheel when traffic is hectic and all the anxiety evaporates; I talk to my instrument when I need something to listen to me without judging me. I use music everyday as a spiritual ladder that elevates me to reach my potential. The power that music possesses heals the sick and mends the broken; it crystallises memories for us to just remember and smile every time that sound comes. Music offers me inspiration when I need it, joy when I crave it, peace when I ache for it. It makes me more colourful, engaged and alive. To live and work at my best I need to be flowing with passion, happiness and a desire to win and music provides this for me. Music is the sound track of the roller coaster movie called my life.
DJ LEXY J: Does the music you listen to now differ from what you listened to growing up?
MOGAMI: When I was growing up I was intrigued by popular genres from outside the country because the media of the time played a lot of those. Nowadays I listen to sounds that are close to my identity mostly. I was a DJ at senior school (ko Mothibong) so all the late 80s hits have a special place in my heart. Every week I would listen to radio top 20 charts and write down all the songs and then use the school’s entertainment budget to buy the music. Now, I listen more to Traditional music or any genre that has traditional elements infused in them. Music that documents our culture causes me to think and introduces me to new ideas.
DJ LEXY J: Can you think of any particular music/song that you associate with a memory, mood, or place with?
MOGAMI: The Boss is Back by CJB takes me back to the time when I started at senior secondary school as a form four student. I arrived in style with a tape recorder player positioned on my shoulder blasting ‘The Boss is Back’ loud, walking across the school while school was in session. This stunt caused chaos in the school. Teachers and other students came out to see what was going on and the next thing I was called to the office and that was the end of my heroic moment.
DJ LEXY J: What is your all-time favourite song(s)?
MOGAMI: A re chencheng – Ratsie Setlhako; Nkuke nnana ba motshwere – Dikakapa (Tshumu leading); Madala Stimela – Shirley.
DJ LEXY J: Who is your all-time favourite artist, and why?
MOGAMI: It has to be RATSIE SETLHAKO; he is evidence that Batswana have always understood the true science of musical sounds through his segaba in call and response, imitation, unison with his vocal inflections. The sound production of segaba is very complicated and as a Motswana I pride myself in that musical instrument with its scientific intelligence. In fact, I believe the western violin copied the Segaba. His lyrical content is so rich and idiomatic that it still appeals to listeners even today. His lines are heard in most traditional pop music of modern artists.
DJ LEXY J: What’s on your playlist and how do you choose the music that goes onto it?
MOGAMI: My playlist has almost all music genres. It has to be songs that embodies feelings and emotions and have the ability to share those emotions and feelings with me. Songs that aesthetically appeal to me through their use of musical elements such as rich lyrical content, good production quality, diversity of rhythms, dynamics, harmonies and tempo, rich indigenous content and variety of mood. Each song is understood and interpreted in its right context.
DJ LEXY J: So long, have yourself a super duper day!!
MOGAMI: Thank you Lexy. Have a super day yourself.