Palesa Molefe On Pula: “I Perform from the Heart”

  • The musical returns to the stage by public demand
  • “Molefe’s Miss Botswana story resonated with that of lead character”


Former Miss Botswana, Palesa Molefe, brought emotional complexity and extraordinary artistry in equal parts to the role of “Mmapula,” the rainmaker’s daughter in the awe-inspiring dance musical, Pula, that returned to the stage at Maitisong in Gaborone by public demand over the weekend.

Molefe’s brilliant performance complemented the equally talented ensemble that greeted the audience with lively percussions and exceptional dance skills that seemed to defy the limits of human capacity for the two-hour showcase.

“Different kinds of boldness” 

“When I step onto the stage, I perform from the heart,” she said in an interview. “Comparing myself to Mmapula, I would say we both have different kinds of boldness.

“Mmapula’s boldness is very loud and strong while mine is very subtle and soft. Mmapula has a lot of strength because she comes from a family lineage where there has always been a lot of responsibility.”

In the production of “Pula,” Mophato dancers use explosive dance moves and powerful songs and storytelling to bring to life the story of a community’s dependence on rain and its grief when the rains don’t come.

Folk songs

Lead actress Mmapula is then given the task of taking over the job of rainmaker, which requires that she set off on an adventurous search for ways to bring rain to her people.

In her quest, the show transports the audience to Batswana’s musical history with folk songs such as “Role Le Le” and “Mmamati” while featuring a healthy representation of the tribes of the nation, their dress and their dancing styles.

It is anchored on the practical and spiritual relationship that Batswana have with rain and how it brings joy when it comes and sorrow when it does not.

Something special

“The response has been great ever since the first staging of Pula,” Molefe said. “Every member of the ensemble has something special in their hands and I pray God gives us the stamina to carry this production forward.”

Written and directed by Andrew Kola of Mophato Dance Theatre, the production was previously performed and showcased on Broadway, Times Square New York by the then I LoveBotswana Ensemble.

This year, the show returned with Molefe as the new lead after Lone Motsomi found greener pastures in America’s film industry. “The role of Mmapula is not for me to keep,” she explained.

Another Mmapula

“Before me Mmapula was performed by Lone, and she did an exceptional job. It is my turn now and if Mmapula has to go to someone else in the next season, it will. Mmapula is too much of a powerful spirit to hold down.”

Molefe joined the production after her successful reign as Miss Botswana that united Batswana and hoisted the country’s flag high.

She received a call from the ensemble’s creative director, Kola, who indicated that her Miss Botswana story was similar to that of the lead character, Mmapula.

“When he told me all about Pula, I was sold,” Molefe chimed. “The production is exhilarating, intense and not what you would expect.”