They may look a bit outlandish in their rather emphatic style of dress, but Botswana’s metalheads are a charitable lot who every year mount a benefit march in Ghanzi to raise funds for underprivileged children in the desert town and its environs. Rock bands from as far afield as Germany and neighbouring SA will be in the groove at the next Overthrust Winter Metal Mania Charity
Fest. Staff Writer GOSEGO MOTSUMI reports
Riding motorbikes, horses and decked out in their leather outfits, chains and cowboy boots and hats, local metalheads, or Ma-Rock, are gearing up for their annual festival styled Overthrust Winter Metal Mania Charity Fest to march against poverty.
Started by Overthrust Rock Band in May 2010, the next charity event is slated for May 2023 in Ghanzi with an activation event scheduled before the end of this year.
“Our biggest challenge currently is sponsorship for the event,” bassist and lead vocalist of Overthrust, Tshomarelo Mosaka, also known as Vulture Thrust, told Time Out.
“We have been funding the initiative from our pockets and would like to continue with this noble initiative because it has reduced poverty in the Ghanzi area tremendously but we are short on funds.”
Now in its 14th year, metalheads have proved through the charity initiative that rock music goes beyond smashing guitars and wearing out-of-this-world outfits.
The Overthrust Winter Metal Mania Charity Fest features is a five-day affair of camping whose proceeds go to disadvantaged children in the community of Ghanzi and surrounding areas through the Department of Social and Community Development at the local district council.
The event has become a tourist attraction in its own right for its proven capacity to attract people from all walks of life and massive international media coverage by the BBC and CNN to the desert town in the Kgalagadi.
“This is a unique and really entertaining event with a movie-like atmosphere where metalheads are heavily dressed in their leather outfits doing gorilla walks and marching against poverty,” said Vulture Thrust.
“The event boosts the economy because accommodation facilities are usually fully-booked and the informal sector is able to make boom sales. In the forthcoming event, we have confirmed rock bands from Germany and South Africa.”
The rock band that gave its name to the event, Overthrust, is working on a new eight-track album titled “Infected by Myth” that is due for release in May next year.
According to Vulture Thrust, Ma-Rock hwave noticed that over the past 10 years Africa was invaded by business-oriented denominations that infected people with the belief that they came to preach the true gospel and are disturbed.
Nevertheless, metalheads prompt endless stares on a regular day because of their appearance.
While the average person would have a hard time trying to understand this ‘unusual’ group of people, Vulture Thrust says contrary to negative stereotypes associated with them, they are a normal and responsible lot who have no inhibitions about expressing themselves and their love for rock music.
“Batswana enjoy our public marches but don’t show the same support for our shows,” he says. “But people in the Ghanzi area have warmed up to us and we have a huge following in other countries.
“Metalheads merely express the hardships of life with lessons shared by the way they dress. The skulls, blood and spikes are ways in which they send harsh but real messages of the realities of life without sugarcoating anything.
“Notice how hospital messages on posters about certain diseases are so real and harsh. Metalheads use the same approach to communicate our messages.
“We normally refer to it as extreme entertainment that is not like any other. Our music is good for relieving depression.”