Ten years after his last album, legendary guitarist Stiger Sola is putting the finishes touches to his next LP, set for release this week.
Born in Shorobe in 1953, Stiger, despite going quiet over the last decade, is widely regarded as one of the country’s top traditional artists of all time.
The award-winning performer – real name Monaga Molefe – is especially famous for his electric live sets with a unique ability to serenade an audience.
With his distinguished good looks, natural charisma, and golden voice it comes as a surprise to learn that the ultra-confident 67-year-old once suffered from almost debilitating shyness.
Indeed, in this incredibly raw interview with The Voice’s FRANCINAH BAAITSE-MMANA, the father-of-four talks of his past struggles women and how he ultimately overcame his fear of the opposite sex. There is, of course, much talk of music too.
Q. It’s been ten years since your last album, why the long wait?
There was no problem at all. I took a sabbatical leave from the big stage so I can reflect on my career and my future in the music industry.
There were so many things happening, a lot of cheating and things were not being run the way they should.
Artists were basically being exploited!
Q. Now that you have released a new single, with an album to follow, does it mean ‘things’ are getting better?
I believe so.
I now have a manager who is handling the administration part of my records.
He arranges everything, including my finances.
My job now is to produce music.
We no longer operate the old-style way whereby after a gig, money is put on the table and shared as though we are sharing gambling money or bank robbery loot!
As an artist it is important to have a financial advisor and we plan for everything before hand.
Q. Recently you complained that the music industry was not financially rewarding, especially for local artists. How are you managing to pay your manager then?
We have an agreement.
The little that we make, we share it.
We have agreed on a certain percentage.
That way we both work hard to earn what is due to us!
…Sounds fair. So, tell us about your new single, ‘Kangoro’, in which you sing about ‘hitting a lady with nature stick early in the morning?’
As you know, as elders we have our own language that we use when we discuss sensitive matters before children.
We don’t simply call a snake a snake because we do not want them to get what we are really on about.
They will only make their own interpretation as they mature and get to understand the world better.
I use a language that will only be understood by adults.
Q. But to be clear, this is a song about ‘morning glory?’
Yes it is. The important part and time in life!
Q. Mmh no comment! You’ve said the single is a teaser for your long-awaited next album, set for release this week. What should fans expect?
It is a very strong album with six tracks, ‘Kangoro’ inclusive.
As we speak I am fresh from the studio and I can confirm to you that all is on track and in a matter of days the album will be out.
In it there are different styles, very diverse.
It caters for both the old and the young.
For instance ‘Kangoro’ is specifically for the younger generation, the kind that dance with jackets tied to their waist, the rumba and house kwasa dancers.
I wanted to show the new generation that even us elders know how to do this thing, that even us old men, we’ve got the moves!
Actually one of the songs features ATI and is sure to be a hit woth the youth.
Q. So are we going to see Stiger moving away from his wooden guitar/traditional music to house kwasa?
That’s an important question.
You know why, it is because I want to serve all my fans, to increase my fan base.
I am trying to serve all categories.
Look at it this way: when you are performing at a festival, for instance, everybody comes in – fans of gospel, mapaqanga, jazz and others.
So you do not want anyone bored, you want to keep them on their feet throughout your performance.
So ‘choice assorted’ is what I have come up with, a package to wow the crowds.
Q. It’s very impressive to see you in such great form. What is your secret to keeping strong and young at heart?
There is a Setswana saying that goes, ‘tshwene e e boboa bo ntlha ke e e kilelang’, literally meaning, ‘a baboon with the most beautiful fur is that which is most vigilant’.
When I was younger I was not into girls.
I was very shy and afraid to approach them.
I only took part in that kind of industry when I was already an adult.
Q. Wait, you were afraid of girls?
Ijojo, when my cousin showed me a girl and said I should go try my luck, I would reluctantly go and instead I would only greet her and return to the other boys.
That is how I grew up and that is the same way I did it in the music industry.
During festivals, ladies would try to get my attention but my nerves would get in the way and I would just keep to my corner.
Q. So how did you win your wife’s attention. What was your first line?
I got her through a friend of mine who introduced us to each other – but I tell you it was not easy!
I was shaking but I managed to share pleasantries with her.
That was the starting point.
Over the following months it became easier to talk to her and I managed to touch her hand and the rest became history.
I remember that day I was putting on my scotch shirt and my sharp pointed shoes with a very neat haircut.
I was all smiles and all the confidence was on me.
My cousin told me to press the button and that all will flow.
That’s what I did and eventually I became better than him at the game!
Q. So you became a player?
You know those times it was hard to get a woman’s attention, a man had to do everything to impress his woman.
Q. I see. When was this?
Around 1997 – by then I was responsible enough to take care of a woman.
Q. Please take us back to those days.
My daughter, I am talking about the days when there was no WhatsApp.
Those days for one to say a woman has given him a quick response is when she says YES after three months.
Mind you, this would be after weeks of her shouting at you, telling you all sorts of bad things, just to try your patience.
Things were not as smooth as today where it is only a matter of buying a drink for the lady, getting her cellphone number and it’s a done deal.
That is not how we did things.
When the woman said yes, it was permanent; she would respect you and love you.
Sex came as a bonus.
It was love first.
But today’s generation makes it vice versa – sex first and love later!
That is why there are too many passion killings and suicides.
Q. You are taking me back to your song ‘Kangoro’.
I understand artists communicate their feelings through music – what was going through your mind when you wrote it?
I wanted to teach the new generation about the importance of blankets (sex), to show how important it is in building a happy marriage and relationships.
When you give it sufficiently to your spouse, they will stay with you forever!
Q. Let’s talk Covid-19. The pandemic’s impact on the entertainment industry is well documented; how are you coping during this lockdown period?
I am facing challenges like any other artists, but this is beyond anyone’s control.
I did face financial strain.
In fact I am among those who benefited from free food hampers from Mmaboipelego (social services).
It was tough, especially that schools were closed and children had to spend all the time at home.
Food was getting depleted fast; their appetite for food seemed to have tripled!
Q. Artists have complained that the lockdown restrictions have made it virtually impossible for them to make any money. What is your position on this?
It is a sad reality that we have to deal with as mature adults.
Covid-19 is not a joke, the world is in danger and artists are not immune to it.
People are dying in thousands.
We should not think that just because we live in a democratic country where there is freedom of movement and so forth, we can do as we please, go out and expose ourselves and others to a deadly virus.
It is so disheartening to see how fast people have overcome their fear for the virus.
They don’t observe social distancing, they hug, kiss and do all sorts of shameful things.
It is not because they are not aware of the far-reaching consequences of this Coronavirus.
They are just being selfish, for the sake of fun.
It is wrong, we want money yes, but our lives and those of our fans matter most!
Q. Strong words! So, what advice can you give to young artists struggling to cope in these trying times?
They should not be in a hurry to release albums.
This is the moment to take time and write music, rehearse and file. The talent is theirs; talent does not die, but a human being does!
Q. Besides music what are your other hobbies?
Sometimes I go to church and I like jokes.
Q. I hope this isn’t one of the jokes – you are a church goer?
Yes, I do go to church, but to no particular church.
Whenever I feel like prayer I go to the nearest church in mind.
I attend Seventh day Adventist, ZCC, Chukuchuku, any church really because they use one Bible.
Q. So you believe in Christ?
I believe in God.
I don’t believe in a human being, the creator of earth, moon and stars and the people who live on this earth.
I also believe in my wife, when she cries, I cry.
I love her so much. Come what may, my love for her will never change.
She is my cross.
Q. And what do you hate in life?
I hate theft and cheating.
When you snatch away another man’s wife to make her your own, you have stolen her, therefore, you fall under that class of thieves, you are a thief!
The children born out of the thievery relationship therefore become thieves; your generations will continue to produce thieves!
Q. And on that note, Thank God It’s Friday, what are you up to this weekend?
I will be promoting my new album.
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