Sponsored by the Department of Culture and Youth, this performance gave the launch a festive flair attended by over three hundred people in Gaborone and Maun. Bonty Botumile hopes to continue to engage these youth in activities related to visual and performing arts in order to kick start cultural tourism in Maun.
The sound track for the drama production “Tlou -The Elephant Story” was a dual effort of Father Marek Marciniak, svd and Bonty Botumile. There was no dialogue in the live performance of the story, the music therefore played an important role to recount the story in a poignant manner.
MUSIC: Father Marek - A Polish Catholic priest of the St. Augustine's Catholic Mission in Maun is from a family of professional musicians. He sometimes composes music for meditation, spiritual songs and for several wildlife documentaries. For the drama Tlou, he arranged two pieces that were originally composed by Bonty - in acapella; the “Dream Dance” and the “Bird Dance” for the ancestor scenes and the “Last walk to Freedom” after Tlou has transformed into an elephant and is leaving the village for the delta. He also wrote the background music for the soundtrack.
Three out of school youth drama groups (Dithapong Theatre Productions, Tshega Gape and Ditswa Mmogo Drama Group) performed the play “Tlou -The Elephant Story” through mime, song, dance, poetry and drama. There is huge demand for income generating enterprises for many teenagers who did not perform well academically at high school. Although many of these youth are talented artists, they are battling to secure employment or gain access to tertiary education and are roaming the streets. For three months twenty four youth from the above mentioned theatre groups were gainfully employed and occupied in preparation for the play. They told the story of how a young, poor, nursing mother stepped on a winnowing basket and changed the history of the small village Tubu.
Bonty Botumile composed the following five songs in English and Setswana; “Ancestors,” by Tlou, “Tubu Wee!” by the villagers, “I am Tlou” by the ancestors and Tlou, “Child of the Wild” by Mma Pelo, “Tlou!” the catchy grand finale which became popular with all the children that attended the launch . The above songs were all in typical harmonized African acapella played to percussion; Botswana dramas and shakers.
MASKS: Anita Bhattacharya-An art teacher and sculptor born in India, created the bird masks for the ancestor scene using clay, paper and fabric. All the bird masks were of aquatic birds commonly found in the Okavango Delta.
DANCE: Mieke Van Der Post has worked as a choreographer in Holland and Africa since 1974 teaching classical ballet, jazz and modern dance to children of all ages.
She arranged the choreography for all the dances of the ancestors in the dramatization of “Tlou-The Elephant Story” using moves from the above mentioned dances to create a supernatural effect.
The narrative form has always been an effective means for conditioning child behaviour, communicating a message,educating and entertaining. Theatre is proving to be just as an important medium and popular pasttime for family. This launch was proof to many that storytelling in both oral and drama is a powerful medium.
TLOU - the Elephant Story