Just another Musician (Artist).
Born in Baragwanath Hospital, one Saturday morning, on the 18 August 1962,
to be precise. We stayed in Phiri Township. I was the third, out if six children.
I started school at Khotso Lower Primary, in Phiri Township, Soweto, in 1968.
Moved to Phiri Higher Primary, and to Molapo Secondary School. Then went
on to complete high school at Thesele Secondary and Jabulani Technical High
School, between 1977 and 1980. All my growing up and schooling was in
June 16 1976 happened when I was in Molapo Secondary, In Molapo Township.
I was 14 years old, then. Had a lot of friends, at home and in school, but one
man's name will always be associated with Tshele Tsoerenyane, as a musician.
A boy I was to share a desk with, from our very first day in school, in 1968,
at Sub-Standard A of the then Bantu Education system. He was Norman Tsepetsi.
His street name was Dando, and he was from Mapetla Township.
We have never met before, but, got along fine from the start. We were to
share a desk from then, until on the week of June 16 1976. Schooling came
to a halt. Throughout all these years, Dando and myself would even
sneak out of school, play truant, just to practice with his elder
brother's guitar and organ. I can say I started attempting to play an
instrument at the age of 10, and made a promie to myself to one day
create my own music.
Unfortunately, my friend has since passed away, as I write. I think about him all
the time, though. On one hand, he helped shape my future, but at the expense
of all the other things we could have easily excelled in. I can say, with
confidence, we were good in soccer, sketching, drawing and our school
work, despite missing classes unnecessarily. In fact, ironically, we never
participated in any music-related school activity, simply because they
did formal music, and we prefer the rough-and-tumble. We skipped that,
to learn instruments.
Dando's family caught wind of our deliquency, and simply sent the guitars
away. That put paid to everything. I never knew what happened to my
father's guitar when he passed away, on 02 July 1972, too. I was 10, then.
I completed Matric in 1980, and loafed around a while, trying to "find a job"
I started my first band around 1982. Myself and Ishmael Fancy Boikanyo,
also from my home-town, Phiri, called ourselves FacyPhil, with the Phil
being part of my name, Phillip. We taught ourselves a little theory from
books and had 2 acoustic guitars a good friend had earlier given me.
Another friend. Reginald Thabo Nkadimeng, gave me an organ. He and I
served apprenticeship between 1984-1988, at Randfontein Estates Gold Mines.
He believed in me. His home is at Naledi Extension. I started learning to play
an instrument, study staff nottation and the like, while I was already
composing my own songs.
Bra Mbuti Molefe, our neighbour in Phiri, gave me an electric guitar, around
1988. He used to play in a Mavele-vele dance group, in the 1960's, at a farm
at the place we now call Doornkop, Protea Glen, Glen Ridge, in South Soweto.
I still have and still use the guitar even today.
Many a song I had thought about, or even hummed to myself, many
songs I forgotten, throughout all the years, but many songs have stayed
fresh in my mind, and many songs I have woke up remembering, but the
music I have always wanted to create, is as relevent today, as it was then.
I took up apprenticeship, and quailfied as an electrician. Deep inside,
I always wanted to do music, though there are a lot of other arts, sciences
or sports activities , that I have interest in. I still think about teh goals I used
to score, in soccer. Nice goals, I must say. I was playing for a long-defunt
Phiri Hull City Football Club, between 1984 and 1992, on and off, as I was
always away with studies.
Both parents were not proffessional musicians, but had a influence in how I
shaped my life around music. My father had a guitar, but I have never
heard him play it.
He worked as a labourer at the then, South African Railways. My mother stayed
at home, to raise us, their six chidren. Life, then, was tough. My mother used to
love singing to herself, as she went around her daily chores. Actually, she did
that all day, everyday, whether she was happy or sad, toiling or resting.
Typical of us Africans, but she never tolerated my tendency to hum while I
chew food. Barbaric, she would often claim.
She once told me that when I was still very young, in fact in nappies, we had
a group of Basotho musicians, for neighbours. They had Famo dance sessions
every weekends. They played most Mohobelo, Moqoqopelo, Mangae, and other
Sesotho genres popuplar then. It was like every weekend was a party, and
impromptu rehearsals, now and again during the week. Whenever the music
started, I would cry and behave restless. I think I was around a year and half,
to two years old, as I am told.
She had this idea, to ask the gentlemen, and their ululating, singing women, to
let me cool of and rest at their place, until I she had time to attend to me. She
says, at times she would even only go fetch me very late in the night. They
took care of me, all along, anyway.
Apparently, her plan or solution worked for her. But, to my advantage, it
worked for me, too. There is a strong chance that music is my second nature,
and I would not mind that, at all. I can say that, it is how it all began, and the
journey has only started.
My mother never approved of my idea of being a musician, at all, and she even
went on to tell me that my voice was not sweet or fine enough. I adamantly
and determinedly chose to ignore her advice. It did not matter, then, whether
I was vocalist, a singer or just a musician, then, and I know that it does not
make a difference now.