The Black Renegades Of Tswana Rock
The San are the earliest inhabitants of Southern Africa, having inhabited the region for close to 2 million years.
Bearing testimony to their significance and History in the region is the Archaeological record which the San have enriched with Rock paintings, Bone Fragments and artistic beadworks enabling Historians to reconstruct Stone Age life.
The San are also known for their sense of deep Spirituality, and it is this aspect of San Culture that may explain the existence of a Heavy Metal Rock Subculture scene in Botswana.
Rock Subculture In Botswana
At first blush, a Heavy Metal scene seems out of place in far flung Botswana deep in the heart of Southern Africa.
However, Rock sub-culture embraces individual expression and is also anti-establishment at its core.
These aspects can be adapted into any Cultural setting, and its therefore no surprise that Heavy Metal has found a home amongst Tswana ‘renegades’.
The rebels of Tswana Rock are called ‘M’Rockaz’.
Living in a Country heavily steeped in Conservative Christian and Traditional values, Botswana’s Rock Subculture appears to provide a means by which Tswana Rockers can articulate their individuality in a country where the pressure to conform is almost insurmountable.
The Rocker aesthetic is such a Culture shock it is mistakenly associated with Satanism and Devil Worship by the Conservative establishment.
Of course all this only serves to spur Botswana’s Rockers even further, and is a confirmation of the Social myopia they seek to transcend.
In my view its also not a coincidence that the annual Rock Festival is held right in the spiritual heartland of the San people…The Kalahari desert.
It is an affirmation that beyond the shocking aesthetics, Botswana’s Rockers ultimately connect with their deepest Ancient Spirituality through the medium of Rock music.
Perhaps Rock Music is a vehicle to the same visceral experience of Spirituality as their Ancient Ancestors in a world where their Spirituality has been appropriated by institutionalised Religion.
Botswana’s Rockers represent the resistance and the expression of individual spirituality in a world where Spirituality is being monopolised.
Its perhaps ironic but not surprising that the Ancient independent Spirituality of the San that is being lost to modernity can be preserved in Rock subculture, which is in itself an alien Artform.
However, it would seem that beyond the aesthetics, it is the Spirit of Rock that Botswana’s Rockers are most drawn, and that may be because in modern Botswana, it is the closest thing left to the unmonopolised Spirituality of their Ancestors.
In the meantime, although not yet mainstream, Black Heavy Metal continues to gain an audience across the African Continent, and whilst I’m not an expert on the scene, you can check out a list of some African Metal Bands making waves here.
In Botswana the Rock Scene also provides a platform for the equalisation of the Sexes as the Botswana Rock Subculture shows.