The Mabotja factor

By Palesa Mlambo

The multi-talented Relebogile Mabotja is South Africa’s award winning actress, singer, presenter, producer, musical director, publisher and businesswoman. And she is back on her feet after a recent health scare. She took time out of her packed schedule to speak to Palesa Mlambo about the SABCs commitment to 90% local music, multi-tasking and how to transform a male-dominated industry.

In South Africa, women are taking lead roles in different sectors. Mabotja, who lives in Pretoria, is one such woman. In August this year she became the youngest member to ever join the SAMRO board at the age of 30. Just a month later, it was reported that she was hospitalised due to complications after a surgical procedure. The health scare came as a shock, but she has since recovered and says she is ‘truly honoured’ to be part of the SAMRO board.

“I did not expect the call when it came but I am truly honoured to have even been considered to join the board of an organisation that plays such a pivotal role for music makers and musicians in the country,” she said.

artlebo2SAMRO started in 1961 and helps musicians get paid royalties. SAMRO protects the rights of authors and composers of music by collecting licence fees from music users including TV and radio stations, retailers and restaurants.

Mabotja plans on using her position on the SAMRO board to contribute to the evolution of music in South Africa. She believes our era provides opportunities for anyone to become a musician but a few can actually sustain it.

“Good relationships, valuables and good music alone are not always enough,” she said.

I want to advocate for opportunities for women in the industry

The skill of multi-tasking is one Mabotja knows very well considering all the roles she plays in the industry. She says that artists need to take advantages of the opportunities in order to stay relevant and make a living. She is also committed to bringing more females into the music industry.

“I sometimes find myself being the only female in a lot of the work I do and I believe it is time for more women to rise in the music industry to bring about positive change,” she said.

She commented on the SABCs commitment, announced earlier this year, to play 90% local music across its platforms, in a bid to prioritise local content. Mabotja sees it as an opportunity to nourish and grow local talent, but highlighted collaboration.

artlebo1“For this to be successful, it needs to be a collaborative effort between channel, SAMRO and music makers in that music played needs to be reported and the artists themselves need to notify their work and check their catalogue with SAMRO regardless of how old or new,” said Mabotja.

Mabotja is making waves behind the music scene and creating more opportunities for female growth, but also creating much needed female role-models for young women. As a radio presenter on Talk Radio 702, she recently spoke to two natural hair experts about the complex relationship that black women have with their hair. The discussion followed events at Pretoria Girls High where young women protested about alleged racist practices at their school including not being allowed to wear their hair natural.

“One should always stick to your guns. Stubbornly. Persistently. Even when it feels hard and painful because passion is suffering but it is all worth it!” Mabotja said.

Follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook or visit her website.

More stories in Issue 78

Contributors

Palesa Mlambo

Palesa Mlambo is an aspiring journalist, news anchor and freelance writer at Auzweke magazine. She is a journalism student at the University of Johannesburg.

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