With his bloodshot eyes blazing like hot coal amidst his dark, tormented features, Tsholofelo Ramokate shuffled nervously into The Voice’s Francistown offices on Wednesday morning.
The 23-year-old Hip Hop singer is one of hundreds of local artists whose lives have become harder since Covid-19 decimated the entertainment industry.
Having walked all the way from his rented accommodation in Bluetown, Ramokate, who goes by the stage name Alphaboi, is in no mood to catch his breath.
The young dad has much to get off his chest.
“I really need help my sister. Covid-19 has ruined my plans and my life. It is very bad on my side. Just yesterday I cooked my last papa. Today I have nothing to eat. My life is just a mess; that is why I have decided to come here.”
The Letlhakane native reveals he moved to Ghetto five years ago to pursue his music dream.
With two albums to his name, Alphaboi feels he was finally starting to make inroads when the pandemic hit.
“I came in Francistown to do music, my passion. I cannot give up and turn back to the village. I am an artist, promoter and ambassador. I used to put food on the table by advertising the Indians products or performing in events but Coronavirus has shut down the Indians businesses and all events. I do not know what I can do!” he says, the desperation evident in his ever-reddening eyes as well as his breaking voice.
With no money coming in, as well as an empty kitchen, Alphaboi’s debts are mounting up and he fears he may soon find himself homeless.
“I owe a month’s rent of P800 and I have no idea how I will pay it! If I can be assisted with food, a job or anything I will be happy. Or if someone can give me P70 I can dash to our cattlepost in Mosu village to sell goats so I can pay the debts hanging over my head and open a small business.”
As well as outstanding rentals, Alphaboi is behind on repayments for a P3, 000 laptop he bought on credit when ‘times were good and the money was coming in’.
To add to his misery, the artist is unable to provide for his daughter – a failing which as well as hurting his heart, has he youth fearing the wrath of the law.
“Just recently I got a call from the child maintenance offices asking for my addresses, they also told me I am not supporting my child. I am just scared I might be called to court anytime. But before this disease I was hustling and fending for my two-year-old baby girl who I long separated with her mother,” stressed the ‘Kgarebe’ hit-maker.
Compounding the artist’s humiliation, despite being the family’s breadwinner – along with his sister – times are so bad he has been forced to accept handouts from his mother.
“My mother is not working but sometimes does some piece works. It pains me when I go see her at the village and she gives her last money to me for transport to get back to Francistown. I am supposed to be the one giving her money not her giving me the small monies she hustles for!
“I know Covid-19 has not affected me only. I see a lot of people turning to alcohol and becoming drunkards just to forget their problems. I’m determined not to let that happen to me!” he states, ruefully admitting he probably wouldn’t be able to afford a drink anyway.
Alphaboi was quick to praise Vee Mampeezy and ATI for their efforts in trying to get government to ease the current restrictions on the industry.
Encouraging the duo not to give up, he says, “On behalf of all artists big and small, we appreciate what they are doing!”