On the night of Tuesday February 18, 2014, the “World Premiere” of the “Stomp Out Malaria” music video took place at Phakalane Golf Estate in Gaborone, Botswana, and ended with two rounds of standing ovation and loud cheering all around. The song and music video project was led by Peace Corps Botswana’s superstar volunteer, Chad Anderson, and was produced by a group of local talented and passionate Batswana. Five Hip Hop artists (Sentence, the Khoisan, Motswaki Vic, DoughBoy, and BlaqBoy) from Fancy Path Music Group (FMPG) wrote and featured themselves in the song, while the music video was produced under Otlaadisa Productions.
Theresa and I were able to track down Sentence (FMPG) and Ottis (Otlaadisa Productions) for a brief interview to learn more about their side of the story in hopes of presenting a broader picture and understanding of how things came to be. Hearing about their passion and motivation behind the project left both of us doe-y eyed, and, in turn, even more psyched about “Stomp Out Malaria”. We think you guys will be too.
Kim: How did you guys become involved in the project with Chad?
Sentence: I met Chad last year. [Chad] is a close friend of my girlfriend, Amelia, who’s a Bots 10. She told me that he was working on a project that involves malaria and wants to record a song. The song [he] wanted to make [originally] was just a cover song of another artist.
So we set up a meeting, and I told him that I wouldn’t mind doing it for him, but I’m working with my group, Fancy Path Music Group, so I had to ask them if they wouldn’t mind doing such. [When] I spoke to the rest of the team, they said yes.
This year, he came to my house and he told me that he only had a few months before he leaves, but he wanted to do this before he goes. So [Chad and I] got into the studio with the team and started working on it.
Ottis: The whole idea was to make something, because a campaign is good, but to make it stronger it needs powerful visuals. So when Chad approached me about making a music video, I started to ask questions about his experience with video production. He said he downloaded software from the Internet, [which I recognized as a low quality tool.] I realized that Chad doesn’t have much experience with video production and that there was an opportunity for me to assist him. That I could show him something that he could do. Because he was helping us [as a Peace Corps volunteer], I wanted to help him and show him what we can do here.
K: You guys produced everything, the song and the music video, in two weeks. That’s a very short amount of time.
S: Yeah. To write a song about my life, that would take a few minutes. But to write a song about something like malaria – I didn’t even know much about malaria – so it wasn’t easy, you know. [Chad wrote out a first draft on what he wanted in the song, and then we took it from there.] It took a week to compile the song and it took us another week to work on the video.
K: Since you didn’t have much prior experience with malaria, did you find this project with Chad a learning experience? How much did you learn about malaria in the process?
S: I learned a lot from this project. For example, I thought that any mosquito could cause malaria. But, no, there’s a certain species of mosquito, the species Anopheles. I didn’t know about statistics [either]. Like, they say that one in ten are affected, and 3000 kids die daily in Africa of malaria. I learned a lot.
K: What about you, Ottis? Do you have any personal connections to malaria?
O: I do have a personal connection with malaria. In 1995/1996, my younger brother and I arrived in Maun [a town located in northwestern Botswana] and we were attacked by malaria. It was bad, but, luckily, we managed to survive.
K: Despite your first hand experience with malaria, do you feel like you have learned more about malaria after working on this project with Chad?
O: I have, I have. I think this had made me more alert, more aware. It has refreshed me about malaria.
K: Everything came out of your own pockets, like all of the artists’ own pockets. You guys pretty much were working for free and contributed 100 percent. Can you tell me a little more about what motivated you to do so? Not every artist is willing to commit to something like this.
O: So, from [my] childhood experience, I knew how dangerous malaria is, and I wanted to spread the message visually and on an international level. I couldn’t let this opportunity pass, you know, to help other kids out there, to warn them about the dangers of malaria. Just that [my desire to reach kids] inspired me to do this video for charity.
S: Sometimes, as artists, we need to give back to the community. That’s at least what the [philosophy] at FPMG is like. Normally we sing about, like, dancing at the club, blah blah blah, something like that. [Laughs.] But, hey, rap music [could also be] very informational. It’s very easy to give information to youths through music. So we [at FPMG] decided, okay, let’s do this. Maybe we should be informative and talk to the younger generation. Let’s pass the message through our music.
K: What was your favorite moment in the process of this music video production?
O: Oh, the kids. The kids at the primary and the junior school. They were very cooperative and very excited to do this video. Some of the kids at the junior secondary school were a little bit hard to control [Laughs], but they were fun. Plus, the reception that the video got at Phakalane that was one of the highlights. The Peace Corps volunteers really made our day there.
K: What are some hopes you have for the song and the music video? Do you have any personal vision or ambition for this song and music video in particular?
S: From us at FPMG, we are artists, so we want to be able to submit this song and music video on our own to local radio stations and to television stations. To anywhere would be cool. To [submit] the song to most radio stations across Africa, that would be something.
K: It’s a great song. I’m sure that it’s going to picked up, and I can’t wait to hear it on the radio.
S: It is a great song. I hope everyone likes it. I hope that they don’t just listen to it, but also listen to what it says.
O: You know, the vision I have for this video is for it to be played on every television station in Africa. If it was able to achieve this I would say thank you to Chad in a big, big way. I want this video to play all over, all over Africa. I want the skills of the artists in Botswana to be shared and recognized and hopefully to inspire future artistic creations. I want the video to assist Chad and the Peace Corps on spreading the vision of a world free of malaria.
I want parents to be aware of the dangers they can pose on their kids because of neglect. I want the video to refresh them, because it refreshed me. To refresh the parents, the guardians out there about malaria, about the dangers of malaria, and what it can do. You know, we take malaria lightly, but it’s very dangerous, so I hope the video refreshes the African community out there.
K: So in conclusion, if there were one thing you would like the people of Botswana to know about malaria, what would it be?
S: To urge people to use precaution. To use mosquito nets and mosquito repellants, [as well as to allow for] indoor residual spraying. Apparently, some of the residents here won’t allow people to come in and spray, [even] in places that are up in the north [where malaria is an issue].
O: That it is preventable. There are certain steps people can take to prevent malaria. You have to use a mosquito net, because mosquito nets they are everything and they are cheap, and they can save lives. What is more valuable: the life of a young one or the money used to buy a net? Say, maybe a net is a hundred bucks (BWP100) but the life of a person is worth more. Malaria is preventable, that is what I want people to know. And that they can take measures to prevent it and save lives.
If you haven’t seen the Stomp out Malaria music video, watch it HERE.
Sentence (real name Kabelo) is one of the five artists under FPMG, a Hip Hop/Motswako group formed in 2012. They are set to release an album called, Art of War, and some of their current singles include “Old Skool Jushi” and “Becha”. To hear some of their sounds, their free online mix tapes could be accessed at <http://www.reverbnation.com/FPMG>.
Otlaadisa Ottis Otlaadisa was the managing producer of the “Stomp Out Malaria” music video. He is also the CEO of Otlaadisa Productions.