Football, lies and greed
Molefhi Obenne is a sports administration expert and the owner of a football team, Palapye All Stars.
He also runs a football academy, which contributed a lot to the local football development and produced national team players.
Due to his passion for football and frustrations that comes with sports administration 36-year-old Obenne published a book titled, Botswana Football: A Fool’s Paradise.
This year he was engaged as a National Course Director on BNOC sports management courses meant to train Sports Administrators on subjects like organising sport events, governance, and strategy among others.
Our reporter Portia Mlilo had a chat with Obenne about his involvement in sports development and his new book.
Q. What made you write the book?
A. One day I was reading a book called Soccernomics, which is about European football so I developed an idea of writing a book about Botswana football.
There is too much lies, empty promises in our football so I wanted to name the book Lies in Our Football.
I started to pen it down an eight chapters book.
The book is about the experience I had with coaches, players, supporters and other administrators in my quest to improve our football.
I remember Township Rollers wanted to sign our player Mohutsiwa and that time we had loaned him to Motlakase, it was a tussle.
Motlakase wanted money for his transfer while they knew he was on loan.
So these are some of the things I wrote about.
Q. Kindly explain the book title to our readers?
A. Most of the people in our football are self-serving.
I gave the book to my friend Kago Mosinyi and after reading it he said I should change the tittle from Football Lies to Botswana Football: A Fool’s Paradise.
In our football one can come and fool around and never held responsible and taken to task hence it is a fool’s paradise.
Q. How is it doing in the market?
A. It is currently doing well and I have already sold 237 copies at P150 each.
There is one guy called Ian who is a football tourist from UK who came here in January saying he read the book and wants to get a feeling of our football.
He watched a few games, interacted with players and coaches and the feedback he gave me was that 80% of what I wrote about is true.
Q. What impact do you think this book will have in our football?
A. It teaches people about our football and the challenges of the sport.
If you are inspired to be involved in the game, it will give you a different perspective on how to deal with those issues.
It is an eye opener, people need to know what is happening in our sports.
Our football is like cul-desac road sign. We change the president and the body remains the same.
How many times have we had Senki Sesinyi, Marshlow Motlogelwa in that committee and Segolame Ramotlhwa rotating in the committees?
Same problems will always prevail hence there is no progress.
Q. What are some of the challenges you faced when writing the book?
A. I had no sponsor.
I almost gave up on the dream.
I started by printing 10 copies with my salary.
I approached my employer Boitekanelo College to help me with the launch and Botho University also came on board.
The launch was very successful.
Dr Molosiwa came on board as my Manager and she also helped in editing it.
Q. From your side, why do you think our football is dying?
A. It is all about personal vendettas at Lekidi.
When Tebogo Sebego came into leadership he created enemies because he repaid some and forgot others in his campaign team.
There were others who wanted to be in control and he did not listen to them.
Maclean Letshwiti, the current BFA President was his backbencher and Sebego did not want to listen to his ideas and he decided to challenge him for the top post.
He came in with no football agenda but wanted to prove Sebego wrong.
Whatever he implements he wants to show Sebego who he is and how he forgot to serve football.
Sebego had a constitution, sponsors in place which increased value and money every season.
Letshwiti forgot to read the manual and therefore we lost BTC sponsorship despite him a celebrated businessman.
We need a president with football administration in mind.
We always want to prove each other wrong and by doing that there are lot of pit falls.
Q. In 2010 you came up with the e-ticketing concept, what happened to it?
A. We were doing well in our piloting project with Extension Gunners and BDF XI and in the midst of that after selling Gunners and BMC game there was a press conference.
We were never told about its agenda, only to find out it is about e-ticketing and that it is going to be adopted by Botswana Premier League.
They engaged another company to do it only for the project to fail.
It was some kind of sabotage because there is a lot of backstabbing in football.
This was meant to promote accountability and transparency because games get well attended and the next thing players are not getting paid and management claim there is no money.
Q. When Palapye All Stars started it was a development side, now it is in division although it was once promoted to first division, tell us a bit about its journey.
A. The team was started by Ambrose Chima from Nigeria and I was the General Manager in 2012.
In 2015 he left and I took over the running of the team.
We are following the right development path, which is why we went to first division.
Our mandate is development of players so that professional teams can buy our products.
We start afresh almost every season which is why we are not consistent on the league.
Every two years we have a new group of players.
We also have an academy that drills U13, 15 and 17.
We are doing well on that.
Q. In 2013 your academy introduced tri-nation model, how has it been doing in terms of players’ development?
A. We have tri-nation model which include three countries South Africa, Lesotho and Botswana.
During the Easter holidays we host U15 and 17 tournament in Palapye at BIUST, September we go to South Africa and December Lesotho.
There is a cultural exchange amongst the three nations.
Morupule Mine, Broadway Motors, Golden Home, Wusa company have come on board to sponsor the tournament.
Through this initiative Bakang Hope Boima is currently with Highlands Park U17 team and he was spotted during these tournaments in South Africa.
Last year he was awarded player of the year.
We have a lot of scholarship opportunities for this project but our players are not doing well academically and do not meet the requirements.
Every year Lesotho sends two players to United States of America.
Our players fail academically and as of next year we are going to run a fully fledged academy and these players will stay there.
We have signed a deal with Lebogang Tutorials which will be helping our players with their school work.
Q. Who is your inspiration?
A. The late Chips Keotswele of Green Lovers. He started the team from nothing, spending his family resources running the club and it ended up in premier league.
Jwaneng Galaxy Coach Oris Radipotsane is also my inspiration, he groomed me when he was at Motlakase Power Dynamos.
The other person is Jomo Sono of Jomo Cosmos football team, who did it al as a Coach, Manager, driver and I look at him and say I’m just like him.
I draw a lot of inspiration from these people.
Q. What advice can you give to those aspiring to be Sports Administrators?
A. For something to happen, you don’t wait, put it into action and someone will see your efforts and come on board. When we started tri-nations we did not have sponsors and now we have more than five.
You have to be ready to make a lot of sacrifices, be committed and the results will come.
You should also have passion for sports.
Q. Thank God it’s Friday, what are your plans for the weekend?
A. Weekends are dedicated strictly to football.
On Friday I will be traveling to Palapye as we are working on preparations for the tri-nation tournament.
On Saturday my team is playing against Palapye Swallows and on Sunday we host Moshopha Tigers at Dikabeya.
A superstar explodes
Born Atlasaone Molemogi, ATI is one of the country’s most gifted singer-songwriters, blessed with a creativity and energy few can match when it comes to live shows.
Sadly, away from the music, the rapper’s turbulent personal life has been slightly less successful.
While he takes conspiracy theories around the dark world to a whole new level, ATI has been fighting demons of his own.
The ‘Khiring Khorong’ hit-maker is now a self-proclaimed recovering drug addict having checked himself into rehab in late 2018.
This week, the rapper invited Voice Entertainment’s SHARON MATHALA to his suburban home in Gaborone to speak about the latest controversies surrounding his career.
The Voice team arrive to find the flamboyant artist, complete with exfoliating face mask, cleaning his room.
Pleasantries are exchanged and the singer seems in high spirits.
Before the interview begins, however, Deputy Sheriffs and a lawyer turn up to slap ATI with summons.
He is in debt but is optimistic he will come back stronger.
In an emotional roller-coaster of an interview, ATI talks about sexual relations, drug abuse and the bitter fall out with his former manager that have led to recent rape allegations.
Q. Thank you for inviting us into your home, how have you been?
I have been good. I have been blessed.
Q. Why did you decide to speak out against your manager? Where you not afraid this would tarnish your brand?
Even more important is protecting the victims who are derailed into thinking that what they are told is A when it is actually B.
So this is more about the victims not me.
Q. But all of this allegations happened under your nose? Did you not notice anything?
I am very observant but with my manager it was like there was an energetic block.
He controlled everything around me.
Even with the people that I interacted with.
He understood my weakness and he played around that.
Q. Oh! What exactly do you mean by ‘he played around your weaknesses’?
I am one open person, I am an open book.
He knew how to play around that because I vested so much power into him.
All my relationships, he went behind my back and intimidated the people.
He had a hold on a lot of people I have tried to get into a relationship with.
Q. What exactly do you mean?
I will tell you something, I have never been in a relationship.
I have tried.
I have even tried to get into a relationship with money.
I did not understand the culture of a relationship and when I did my manager got in the way because you know people are not comfortable about their sexuality.
I was dealing with abandonment issues.
I was too clingy with who I am trying to love that they don’t even have time to love me back.
My manager intimidated my partners about their sexuality.
This had been going on for too long until I decided that I should go to rehab.
Q. So you checked yourself into rehab, you were not talked into it by family?
Yes. I checked myself into rehab because nobody cared about me.
I looked at myself as worthless.
My level of self-esteem and confidence was so derailed to a point whereby I did not want to be seen.
It got so bad towards the end of last year.
I will tell you something, he painted a picture of a chaotic character.
Q. But trouble seems to follow you. Do you know this?
Yes. Yes I do.
Most of the time it’s ‘purpose learnt’ it is not poor decision making.
Most of my chaos is orchestrated by people around me.
Even before the drugs I know they planned all of the bad things against me.
A lot of things have happened and were meant to happen to me.
Q. What do you mean?
The drug industry in Botswana is (….breathes heavily) I am lucky to be alive. I am lucky to still be sane.
Q. When did the drugs start?
Q. What made you dependent on drugs?
I was not dependent on drugs.
I tried to escape the reality of pain.
The painful part was coming face to face with drastic measures afterwards.
I had to cut the cord with everyone I know and evaluate the relationships that surrounded me, from work to love relationships.
When I did this, I found out that most of my relationships were orchestrated with malice by the one person I gave enough power to destroy me.
Q. Please elaborate further and make it clearer for me, what do you mean by this?
Circumstances always turned around to make me seem crazy.
I started questioning my reality and during this time I did not want to talk to nobody.
I was literally down on my knees and I look back now and say I am lucky to be alive.
Q. Do you think the drugs played a big part in your problems?
I don’t blame anything or anyone.
I just believe things happened the way they were supposed to.
I will tell you I am the best version of myself right now.
If happiness was to be gauged from 1 to 10, I am at a 5.
Q. Have you ever been at 10?
No. I have never been on a 10 but it is my first time at 5, that I will tell you!
Q. What drug was it?
I would not want to say.
I will tell you though that it was a drug that made me calm. Is it important to know?
Q. Why were you missing shows?
I was not well.
I was mentally unstable.
Wa nkutlwa gore ka reng? (do you understand what I am saying?) Mental health is very important.
When they found out that I was on to what they were doing with all these rapes, they literally tried to make me go crazy!
Q. Did they buy the drugs for you?
No! I bought the drugs for myself.
I mean I was addicted, I still am but I am recovering, you know what I am saying.
I am recovering from a mental problem.
Q. But your fans did not know all of this.
They were screaming your name and you did not come.
That is the thing, that is what I am telling you that [screaming fans] it is just not enough.
I was losing my mind.
I mean if I missed a show because I broke my leg it would be easier to understand, right?
What would you rather lose, your mind or your leg? The mind is everything.
Q. Are you in debt?
I am still trying to pay off all that I owe especially from last year when there was a lot of chaos.
Just right now you saw that I got a summons but I don’t live life by sulking.
I take it with grace and I am going to move through this.
Q. If you could undo one thing, what would it be?
I would not change a thing.
I would not because the level of understanding, what I like and what I don’t like, has heightened right now.
I understand now what it is that can advance me from point A to point B and I do understand what manipulation is.
I have lots of knowledge right now that I would have not known if I had not gone through what you say is a negative space in my life.
I mean I have tried to commit suicide but I am still here.
Q. You attempted suicide?
What I mean is that I now understand what a child who says I am going through depression means on a personal level because I have been through that.
I now understand that it is not the drugs we should be fighting, the fight is to help one accept what one does not want to accept.
It is what I call healing the inner child.
Q. Any plans of having a family of your own in the future?
Depends on what you mean by family. I don’t know what family is.
Q. Children of your own?
Q. Do you have a financial advisor?
No but I have had a financial restrainer and that was my mom.
She used to co sign with me.
Q. Have you ever been broke?
I define poverty on a spiritual level.
I have been poor with money in my pockets.
That whole time of ‘Khiring Khiring Khorong’ what I did at the time was the most suicidal thing ever.
I kept myself busy as opposed to dealing with what I was going through.
Same as taking the drugs; I always felt guilty for taking drugs because I felt bad when taking drugs and then coming to have a conversation with you.
I knew that was not me. It ate at my spirit.
But all I want to do is do good.
Q. And finally, Thank God It’s Friday, what will you be up to?
Probably in the studio making music.
*ATI’s manager refused to comment on the allegations against him.
We’re doomed: an MC’s covid-19 tears
There’s not a single confirmed case of COVID-19 in Botswana, but the effects of the CoronaVirus pandemic are already being felt by businesses and individuals alike.
The entertainment industry in particular has been the hardest hit, with night clubs and bars ordered to close, and no festivals allowed to take place in the foreseeable future.
For bar tenders, DJs, promoters and Masters of Ceremonies who’re mostly used to money coming in every weekend, this indefinite dry season spells doom.
“It is a nightmare,” said Dineo Keoreng, an upcoming MC and Events Promoter.
Known generally as MC Mis D.
The 31- year -old promoter is among the many individuals hard hit by the cancellations of events in the country and beyond borders.
“If you take a moment and think about the many bartenders, club DJs and people like myself who make money through events coordination and emceeing, you’ll realise just how much this COVID-19 has affected the industry,” she said.
“How are we going to pay rent? These bartenders have kids to feed,” she lamented.
The fast rising MC in Francistown says she had to watch helplessly as over five of her bookings came to naught.
“I was scheduled to MC the Organised Family Tour in Katimamulilo-Namibia in April, but it has since been postponed to July,” said Keoreng.
The energetic “hype lady” said she also had to postpone another event in Bulawayo slated for 18th April at BAC featuRing local DJs Cue and Cheng.
“This would have been the first ever event organised by Mis D Promotions under Keoreng Investments.
“I’m yet to set a new date for the Bulawayo gig. My worry however is that when this COVID-19 pandemic blows over, there’s going to be congestion. There’ll be too many events at the same time, and budgets would have doubled by then,” cried Keoreng.
Mis D however urged her colleagues in the industry to stand firm and use this time to refresh, hone their skills and observe all the health tips to help stop the virus from spreading.
“My focus right now is growing this brand. It’s a pity this virus struck just as I was about to venture into SADC, but I’m certain more opportunities will come,” she said.
Having emceed some of the biggest events such as Toropo Ya Muka, Goledzwa, TRL Soul Sundays, African Attire on Fleek, Orapa Spring Fest, Bulawayo Train Party and many others Mis D feels the time is right for her to take even bigger events, including corporates.
“I’ve worked with reputable companies such as Engen, Alexander Forbes, Mascom, KBL and recently with Star Lite in their promotion of their locally made Mayonnaise,” she said.
“So basically I’m the go to girl for almost everything. If you need promo-girls for your events I’ve got you covered,” added a giggly Mis D.