This year’s TEDxGaborone will include an array of speakers who share their own journey of transcendence. When one thinks of a transcending career, particularly in Botswana soil – Samantha Mogwe comes to mind. From her early beginnings as a contestant in My African dream over 10 years ago, to successfully maintaining a career, family, and social activism – Samantha Mogwe is an easy go-to for ideas worth sharing. Inspired by the fact that TED offers a safe platform for sharing ideas, and that speakers are typically ordinary people doing remarkable work in their field of interest, Samantha humbly took on the offer to be a speaker at this year’s TEDxGaborone event. We engaged with her further on being a musician in Botswana
One can suggest that you’ve been in the music (singing) business for over 15 years, primarily from your My African Dream days. What lead you to soldier on with your ambition to be a musician?
I was convicted and completely persuaded that music is something that was part of my greater calling in life. Although I did and still do other things, the gift of music is something that I have always been passionate about. The initial reservation towards pursuing it was based on fear – fear of my future financial security; fear of failure; fear of all the unknowns. But then my conviction came and I knew that I would not want to look back at my life years from now and regret not pursuing something that I knew resonated with who I was as a person.
From your first mix tape in 2004 to your latest offering transition, how can you describe your journey with song writing as a young musician in Botswana?
My songwriting is a reflection of where I am in life. It reflects not just my experiences but the research I would have done at a particular time of my life based on a current interest. I believe that as much as I grow as an individual, this becomes evident in my material. I look back at my previous work and I see that it was not as solid as my current work, because I was still younger and had not gone through some of the experiences I have gone through. I was also very unsure of my abilities. I am currently at a place in my life where I know who I am and I know what direction I want to take, and that is also growing my song writing ability.
Having worked on a socially conscious campaign in 2011, it appears that you are also conscious of the world around you. Do you believe that artists have the responsibility to use their art as means of driving important messages that are beneficial to society?
Artists are blessed with a platform that allows for a greater reach and that platform should be used to create awareness of social issues. I am aware of social ills and issues that are not only affect my immediate community, but also issues that affect other communities globally. Man does not live as an island and if each able-bodied person took it upon themselves to be a change-agent, I think that the world would be a better place overall. With this said, I feel compelled to only speak on and bring light to issues that are close to my heart. Not to say that I do not care about every issue. I just don’t want to participate in charity work for the sake of having my name attached to a movement. I want it to have meaning and substance and that can only come from an authentic heart.
Lastly, your song “Transitions” brought various interpretations with your listeners – mores o it being about the change of living life without a loved one. When exactly did you write this song and what inspired you to create it and share it with the world?
The emotions that the song “Transition” brings are overwhelming, especially when various people tell me what it means to them. I was in a dark place in my life. I had just lost a dear uncle on the day before Christmas in 2012 who played such a pivotal role in my career and I didn’t know how to describe the pain of loss. And so because I am a story-teller, all I could do was write a song about what my family was going through at that point. I was not going to share it with the world because it was an extremely personal song but my team convinced me that it was the perfect song to release.
What is your hope for your career this year?
My team and I are being more deliberate in 2017. I am going to be releasing new material soon. I will also be performing outside of the country more than I did before. I just hope that the hard work and preparation will yield a good return.
Image credit: Pristine Magazine