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From drawing with light to brush strokes and Rasta

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Having served as a photographer for over 20 years, spending a great deal of that time in the newsroom, Lefoko ‘Ras Fox’ Mogapaesi says it is now fine art season.

“When I came to Gabz as a young man, I was taking photos. But drawing and photography is the same thing. It’s all visual art and I’m a visual artist!” the 40-year-old exclaims from his residence/studio at Gaborone’s Block 3 location where he is holed up honing his craft.

After years as a newspaper lens man, Mogapaesi ran Magnum Photos, a media services company, and ended up rubbing shoulders with CBD big cats.

However, in 2018, he decided it was time for a change.

“You see, nowadays we are in the fourth industrial revolution. People have cellphones with very sophisticated cameras and editing apps so the need for a photographer is diminishing. Very soon we will have robots programmed to take photos and that’s why the value of paintings, drawings and other handmade crafts is going up. People are building houses and need art!”

Mogapaesi stares at the soil a few feet from the brick he is seated on. It’s a blank stare. Perhaps the interview has brought back memories.

He brings his fingers and thumb tips together and, in his usual monotone, continues, “As a media photographer, I didn’t have a chance to practice art. Now I can spend a whole week in the house either drawing or painting.”

Ras Fox has just completed a penciled Haile Selassie and is working on a commissioned Bushiri portrait. The legendary Ethiopian Emperor, a revered figure in the Rastafarian movement, is an evident favourite.

The artist’s voice rises an octave and he turns to face me. He explains that Rastafarianism has always been his calling; from when his three-year-old body started rejecting meat to the time he joined the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

“I did this to honour Selassie as my King. Rasta is the true religion for the black man. It teaches righteousness, encourages working with your God-given hands and eating the right organic food. Selassie also wanted us to keep our kids from drugs because they are the enemy’s weapons.

“Mussolini’s Italy brought drugs and disease upon the people and Rastaman challenged him. We must do the same and stop eating junk food,” urges the devout Rastafarian, his long dreads tucked away in a scarf such that it looks like a pointy hat.

He explains the turban is a sign of his elder-man position within the Rasta community.

“I am a high priest after being anointed by another high priest impressed by my righteousness and adherence to Rasta principles,” he tells Voice Entertainment.

Since turning to the pencil two years ago, the creative has produced more than a 100 paintings and drawings.

Although he terms this time as ‘practice years’, Ras Fox feels he is ready to unleash his artistic messages on the unsuspecting public.

“This is the time for themed exhibitions and partnerships with other artists and stakeholders,” he adds.

Mogapaesi is not new to exhibitions. He has been part of the National Museum Art exhibition and had a studio at Thapong Visual Arts Centre.

But that’s all in the past. Though he has sold some artworks and received occasional commissions, Rasta says up until now, it has mostly been practice.

His tourism and culture-themed artwork is ready for exhibition but there is no money.

“I need to get my art out there so that it can communicate with the people but an exhibition is expensive,” he explains, his head beckoning towards his numerous creations behind him. Some of his sketches include African hats, baobab tree, a rhino, elephant and other cultural, wildlife and food drawings.

“Canvas and other materials for painting and other styles are expensive; that’s why most of my creations are in pencil,” he adds.

The question about his future prompts Ras Fox to look up in contemplation.

“I want to have galleries across Southern Africa and hold exhibitions all over the world. Most importantly, I want to engage the youth in art so that they can stay away from Babylon drugs and poisoning. Yes, I!”

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UK-Botswana Covid-19 Response Committee assists disadvantaged families in Botswana

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The UK-Botswana Covid-19 Response Committee in collaboration with Botswana Community in the UK have taken heed to the President of Botswana’s appeal for assistance with the Covid-19 pandemic, and will donate food parcels in Botswana on June 5, 2020.

The Committee and partnering charity are made up of Batswana living in the United Kingdom and have joined hands to raise funds to buy food parcels for people living with disabilities in Bokaa and Dikgonnye villages.

The project is endorsed by the Botswana High Commissioner in the UK, H. E Rev Dr. John Seakgosing.

The handover ceremonies will be attended by the Village Leadership which includes the Kgosi, Councillor, Social Worker and VDC Chair amongst others.

The events are scheduled for 0900 hours on June 5, 2020 at the Bokaa Kgotla, and 1400 hours at Dikgonnye Kgotla on the same day.

Food parcels for at least 66 families that will be delivered to the two Kgatleng villages include; 12.5 kg maize meal, 10 kg rice, 5 kg sugar, 2 litre cooking oil, 700 ml tomato sauce, 750 g mayonnaise, 2kg washing powder and 410 g baked beans. “We found it fit to help Batswana back at home because we know that the government cannot win this mammoth task alone. I am proud to see that this project has once again united Batswana across the UK, and I trust that we will continue to assist Batswana where we can,’ explained Lawrence Mathala, the UK-Botswana Covid-19 Response Committee Chairman.  

Dr Boikanyo Phenyo,  the Botswana Community in the UK Chairperson also added on saying, ‘We are grateful for the Botswana High Commissioner’s endorsement and involvement in our project because it has given our project credibility and motivated more Batswana to participate in this initiative. Thank you to Batswana that have responded to our appeal and participated in this project, let’s keep the spirit of unity in the UK and continue to help our country grow and prosper. Gaabo Motho go thebepatshwa.’

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Block 8 nurse challenges Covid-19 test results

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A nurse who allegedly tested positive of Covid-19 during the emergency parliament session has given the Ministry of Health and Wellness up to next week Tuesday to respond to his legal demands as he believes that the test results were fake.

The victim, Morobi Dinao, a nurse at Block 8 Gaborone has made demands that the ministry give him signed results by the person who carried out the laboratory tests.

Dinao was diagnosed at a special parliament sitting in April, his supposed positive results leading to all MPs and those who attended the session to undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine.

According to legal documents from Ndadi law firm, the 37-year-old nurse was admitted at Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital on the 9th of April after he was told he tested positive.

On the 13th he demanded to see his results but was sent from pillar to post and the hospital could not give him the results.

He kept on demanding his results and on the 19th of April he was shown the results through his glass door from outside by one Dr Feledi.

Dinao allegedly asked for a copy of the results but the Doctor said he would revert to him after consulting with his superiors.

He was given his results when he was discharged on the 24th of April.

There was no explanation of the results and the document was also not signed hence the suspicion that they were not authentic.

Some of the things that made him suspicious, he says, are that the specimen submission form that carries his results is markedly from the one he completed on the day of tests.

He says the form does not have the laboratory personnel signature portion yet the one he duly completed had it.

The demands are that MOH should give an account of the delay of initial results.

Dinao’s lawyer, Uyapo Ndadi, told The Voice Online that they are awaiting response to their client’s demands before they can take the next step.

“I do not understand how a doctor can seek for his superior’s permission to give a patient his own results. How do you get admitted without seeing your results and told we are following the instructions to admit you? A lot is questionable in the whole scenario,” said Ndadi.

Ndadi further said he’ll await his client’s instruction before considering any court action.

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