Mmakgosi Ophadile Anita Tau is a performing, recording and literary arts specialist who recently released her poetry single titled “Popcorns.” She recorded a Jazz ensemble album in Pretoria, South Africa with “It Has to be Jazz,” in 2016.
Mmakgosi is currently a scriptwriter for the ‘Colors’ Drama Series which is in production. Previously, she was the Head Scriptwriter for ‘Property 4U Television Show’. Mmakgosi also co-founded Sekei girls and MO Scripts which are both Arts activism organizations.
As a mental health awareness advocate, Mmakgosi fuses performing arts and film to sensitize people on mental health issues and social concerns. She also has an annual show, “Mmakgosi Live,” which raises awareness and funds for her initiatives.
Mmakgosi loves travelling, networking, experiencing different cultures and sharing her truth through film. Her passion has seen her perform across Botswana, Zambia, and South Africa.
What led you to becoming a poet?
Destiny! My life is a composition of God’s gifts bundled up to serve humanity.
Poetry is a medium that has cultivated my oratory skills, boldness, creativity, confidence and mental agility. I perceive poetry as my springboard, a channel that has pieced together the fragments of my purpose in life.
My first poem was published at the age of ten and I have never put the pen down since. Art is the truth that enables me to live through words and create works that change lives.
In art, there is no oppression or grief. There is healing, power and although personal, art has a ripple effect of impacting other people’s lives. I survived and overcame bipolar and depression through writing. It is through writing that I have found my purpose in life.Art has a ripple effect of impacting other people’s lives - Mmakgosi Tau Click To Tweet
Tell us about the social impact you’ve created through your work.
My art is a healing platform for every unspoken emotion that my fellow countrymen have been subjected to. It’s a collage of different art forms that enable artists to collaborate and generate income as a united front.
Being vocal about overcoming bipolar and depression has catapulted me to platforms that reach masses of people. People from all walks of life can relate to my experiences and draw inspiration to rise triumphantly in the midst of their trials.
This has allowed me to encourage and counsel those I speak to about mental health. It has also sparked conversations about patients, the mental health care system and policy refinement.
Have people been receptive to your art or work?
Yes, I find that the years I’ve spent writing, reciting and dreaming were all building my audience.
My storytelling comes in the form of various art mediums and which have pleased the souls they ministered to. My short films have received positive reviews, so has the “Words Unspoken,” album and my latest single “Popcorns.”
I cherish everyone who has granted me the opportunity to take them on a journey with my mind and words powered by the Holy Spirit.
What challenges have you faced in an industry that is not popular in regards to our context?
Firstly, as a professional poet, I found my art used to cost me more than it made me. Though people love poetry, not all of them consider the depth of its monetary, social and holistic intrinsic value.
As a tool for social advocacy, poetry is an art that attracts those waging wars on social ills. Despite not feeling the gender disparities in poetry, I realized that there were few women writers and directors in the film industry. I opted to study this course because I wanted to bridge the gap and influence more young women to pursue careers in filmmaking.
Thirdly, creating awareness for mental health issues is difficult when there are financial limitations. There are not many corporate social investment policies that fund mental health campaigns and tours.
What fears did you overcome to get into the business?
- Taking risks, which I now do almost daily
- Rigorous networking
- Bearing my scars in their nakedness to the world
- Not being able to spend time with my family
What were your biggest regrets and biggest achievements?
My biggest regret was not attending the five international invitations I received in 2017 to perform and facilities workshops. It moved me to realize that my work has captivated the hearts of art enthusiasts around the world.
Yet, I learned to accept the things I cannot change, and when I don’t have the strength to do that, it’s God I look to. I am a firm believer in my intentional God and know that my life is ordered by His authority.
My biggest achievement was my first ever live show held on 8th September 2017. For a long time, I organized shows for people, performed for various audiences yet never once held my own exclusive poetry show of this magnitude.
It is my greatest achievement because it signified my evolution from being a poet combating social ills. Botswana’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Honorable Dorcas Makgato, officially launched me as a mental health activist.
The show was a fusion of poetry, film, music, fine art and fashion. I collaborated with various artists of great repute. I also made powerful connections that relayed my intentions to the people I was born to serve.
What advice would you give someone who wishes to venture into creative arts as a business?Recognize your value, gifts and potential before you expect the world to do that - Click To Tweet
Once you do, never sell yourself short for anything or anyone. Empower your mind, read and research about strategic tools that will position your brand purposively to your target audience.
Don’t ever think like an artist when you handle business deals. I struggled with that for a while, when I had merchandise it always wound up as someone’s gift. Creativity is impulse and spirit oriented. What you give freely with your art is not a trait you need in your business.
As a creative, choose a cause that is closest to your heart. Pour into it with your intellect, resources and as you grow, sow into it financially. Learn from other established creatives but also take the time to mentor those who are rising.
Finally, develop some self-discipline. Take care of yourself with the knowledge that you are the brand, however, do not splurge unnecessarily.
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