Thato Kavinja, who goes by the stage name Koolkat Motyiko this past weekend arrived back in Maun, fresh from Washington DC, USA, where he attended a National Geographic Storytellers Summit. The summit was a four day gathering that brought together inspirational and influential producers, photographers, writers, filmmakers, illustrators and journalists to celebrate the art of storytelling and its ability to connect people and inspire change.
This week, the 26-year-old Seronga native shared with The Weekender his experiences from the Washington DC, USA summit, the impact it made to his music career and what to expect from him coming from abroad.
As for the US trip, it all started last year when the National Geographic Society was filming a documentary of the Nkashi Classic 2022 edition and the NGO recruited him to compose songs for the film and he subsequently did five tracks.
Working with the Nature Environment & Wildlife Filmmakers’ (NEWF) Compose Yourself Lab, NGS later brought in other international musicians to Maun to compose more songs working together with Koolkat and Prince Bogosi, a Seronga comedian native for the soon to be released film from the Okavango Delta. The film is scheduled to be launched in Gaborone, Maun and some other parts of the delta.
The Lab which is based in South Africa, that brings together musicians from across the continent, is on a mission to diversify the soundscapes of African wildlife documentaries and Koolkat has now become one of its fellows.
As he has previously mesmerized some international tourists who had visited Maun it would be of no surprise that people in Washington DC could not wait to see Koolkat where he was even introduced as ‘Mr Seronga.’
“It was an amazing experience to be there as I got to perform in front of over 1500 composers, photographers and talented producers from all over the world,” he said. Koolkat said he is happy to have represented the country, the Okavango Delta in particular and gave the rest of the world its musical spirit adding that the film also showed the people of the delta and their culture.
As a take home from the summit Koolkat who started as a storyteller revealed that his composing skills will be improved as he got a chance to learn a lot from other international composers abroad. He added that he was also inspired to learn how to compose music using various traditional musical instruments something which he says other countries are thriving on and capitalising on as compared to local artists.
Koolkat and other fellows will from February 24th-27th attend the NEWF Congress set for Durban, South Africa which is an annual gathering and signature event that brings together emerging and experienced filmmakers, storytellers, scientists, conservationists, and media distributors to connect and engage towards a common goal of elevating Africa’s next generation impacting conservation through film.
As a NEWF fellow, Koolkat has indicated that he will be working with other locals in the same industry with an aim for them to benefit from opportunities availed by the organization such as funding for their story telling.
The youthful artist who has a single album and an EP (extended play) to his name has also collaborated with a group of local artists from his district in a movement dubbed ‘Sedimo Tour’ in which on a yearly basis they travel around the country to perform on the Halloween Day as a way to celebrate their culture.
Koolkat rose to fame in 2021 when he released a killer tune ‘Ko Seronga’ a song which he explained was inspired by his childhood memories years back when he was in his native home. Some of his other well received hits include the likes of Willie Makhandane, Sedimo and Shorobe just to mention a few.