Samantha Mogwe is a Motswana singer/songwriter who brings a fused element of neo-soul/RnB. Raised to appreciate poetry and performing arts, she was exposed to music at an early age.
She has had the opportunity to perform not only in Botswana but in South Africa, Namibia, Ethiopia, and Sweden. Sharing the stage with well-known artists such as Zahara, The Soil, Zonke, Joe Thomas, Kenny Latimore, Lira, Micasa, Hugh Masikela among others.
Samantha is a 2014 YAMA award winner for Best Female Artist for the year and a BOMU Award winner for Best packaged Album, in 2015.
She is a multifaceted individual who places great value on edification and re-inventive qualities. She holds a degree in Theology and has studied music with the Trinity College of London.
Samantha is a wife and a mother, radio personality on local radio station Gabz Fm, a voice coach, fitness enthusiast and businesswoman who maintains her work-life balance by scheduling everything and prioritizing what is important.
In this interview, she chats to us about personal and business branding qualities, new radio show venture and social entrepreneurship.
Have you always wanted to be a musician?
I come from a family that loves music and arts in general. I knew I loved music but I did not grow up thinking I would choose music as a career.
It’s something that crept up on me when my best friend forced me to join My African Dream when we were 15. We came second in our category and then I would always find myself gravitating towards performing on stage despite fear and being shy.
How have you steered clear of the ideology that doing music in Botswana is not a sustainable career?
Like any career, the arts are unpredictable, and I say this because we now live in a time where a staggering number of our graduates are unemployed even though they are in fields that our parents assume would be safer when it comes to making an income.
I personally have never been the type of person who was caught up in following the ideas and norms of what society expected of me.
I think it’s because I remind myself that I came into this world alone, and one day I will SOLELY stand before God to give an account of what I did with the gifts and opportunities that He has given me.
My faith and hope for being a successful musician are what also fuelled me to keep at it even when there were so many reasons to just simply give up and try something that seemed to have more certainty.
Why was it important for you to transition into the radio realm and how did you prepare for it?
How I got into radio was a bit of a strange one. Some people think it’s because I “knew someone” who gave me the opportunity but that is not how it happened.
At the beginning of 2017, I had a deep inclination to invest in myself and learn the art of public speaking. I joined Gaborone Toast Masters and spent the entire year with the Club, learning how to speak in public without being afraid and how to articulate myself.
Gabz Fm then put out an advert where they were looking for new radio presenters and I tried to ignore it. My husband and sister then convinced me to drop off my applications and demo.
Three months later after they had gone through the applicants, I was shortlisted to join a group of ten who had potential. We began training in December of 2017 into January of 2018 and that’s how I got in.
I have always known that I would love to be able to speak on a public platform because writing music can be limiting as you are working on sharing an idea on an instrumental that is less than 4 minutes. That’s quite limiting.
I wanted to diversify my brand in a way that still maintained my purpose and vision and also challenged me so that I would keep growing as a person.
Not only that, I found that it was important that I should try and reach people who might only see me as a performing artist, but often wouldn’t think that I have opinions on issues that we as Batswana are dealing with on a day to day basis.
The “Sams Purple Lounge” among other things addresses interesting business and social issues. What encouraged you to address these?
I want us to fix ourselves and in turn fix our immediate community in our own little way. This is what Sams Purple Lounge is out to do.
To be honest, I have gotten tired of having us constantly complaining as a people. We have many problems in our society so why not show solutions.
This is why I try to bring guests who are addressing various social concerns. Our conversations are geared toward fixing social issues, and also at times educating and challenging the mindset that often needs challenging and encouragement to look at life beyond ‘ME, MYSELF AND I’!
I am overwhelmed by the response. So far people love it, and I couldn’t be happier because that encourages me to keep going and keep growing as a radio presenter.
Can you tell us more about your social enterprises?
I have aligned myself with two specific social causes:
LOVE IS ART: The whole point is to use theatre and performing arts during the 16 days of Activism Against Women and Child Abuse. Here we tell stories aimed at creating dialogue and in the process, we raise funds for safe houses for battered women and children.
This seems to be a big trouble area for Batswana as most times, we do not talk about the abuse that goes on in our homes. We see that women are daily encouraged to stay with spouses who abuse them and/or their children.
We have also gone as far having a sanitary pad drive for incarcerated women.
SKY GIRLS BW: I have been working with them since 2014, and the relationship stems from their focus on the young Motswana girl.
Teaching the young girl how to be assertive, how to be grounded and how to be okay with being themselves and not succumbing to peer pressure that comes in different forms. I think this especially is close to my heart because our peers can often derail us from following a dream.
This is because they do not understand what it is that we want to achieve in life, and I know this as someone who decided to follow the arts as a chosen career path instead of the conventional 8-5 office job.
Name three factors you used in building and sustaining your personal/business brand.
Looking back at my own personal brand, I would say what has helped me achieve a sustainable brand over the past few years include the following things
A lot of the time, people assume that you have to be a certain way in order to amass a following of a specific magnitude. I have never tried to be anything that is not Samantha Mogwe. You will see this is not only what I post on social media, but how I write my music as well as the content I bring on my radio show.
I try to be transparent and real when it comes to what I portray. I also ensure that I am credible and trustworthy. In being authentic, I make it known that I am finding my way, learning and growing just like everyone else. I am never afraid to admit when I don’t know something.
Another thing that people will realize is authenticity cannot be faked as people watch and observe to see if you maintain consistency in the things that you value and how I communicate issues that are close to your heart.
From the beginning, I have always told myself that I wanted to live a life that made a difference in the lives of people. This might include simply educating, bringing awareness, teaching, challenging.
My purpose is clear in the lyrical content of my music, in my radio show, in the conversations I have, in the projects that I affiliate my brand with, in the things I post about on social media.
How prominent is your brand? I have always made sure that I continued and still continue to build my brand internally and externally. This means that I attend networking sessions and find ways to grow myself.
I collaborate with other brands that share the same values as me. Even when I was expecting my son and took a break from music, I maintained visibility. This kept me visible yet allowed me to share something that I was passionate about.
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