“Speak up, don’t ‘man up,’” says Samantha Mogwe about her men- specific song

“Our sons, brothers, husbands and fathers need help,” speaking as a wife and the mother of a boy child, the songbird summed it up at the launch of her latest song by which she takes up the cudgels for boys and men trapped in the cruel ironies of patriarchy where only milksops weep in the face of tragedy. Staff Writer GOSEGO MOTSUMI reports

Coinciding with the International Men’s Day last Friday, songbird Samantha Mogwe released “Mmangwane Mpulele,” a new song by which she reminds boys and men that it is okay to ask for help and that there are safe places where they can go and get it.

The song partly borrows its lyrics from the popular Setswana folk song, “Mmangwane Mpulele ke newa ke Pula” in which a child asks their aunt to shelter them from the rain outside.

“Releasing music for the good vibes is nice but sometimes it is good for creatives to step away from that and speak to issues that a lot of people deal with,” Samantha said at the launch of her song at Maitisong Theatre in Gaborone last week.

“If we have this musical gift, why not use it to speak on behalf of people who cannot write, sing or voice out what they are going through?” she queried. “When a man says they are drowning and are in need of help, they are told to ‘man up’ because we live in a society that sees it as a weakness. We are saying, ‘Don’t man up, speak up!”

The song was inspired by Samantha’s concern as a wife and a mother. It is a concern about men and how they struggle to speak about issues that affect them and more specifically their reluctance to allow themselves to be vulnerable and share their struggles.

The sultry artist uses the song to give voice to the silent struggles that men go through. “Ke batlile go wela mo teng ga bodiba / Ke diba le maikutlo…” She sings to describe men who are overcome with emotion but cannot show it. They need to get out of the ‘deluge’ of the heavy emotions and find a safe space where they can openly share their struggles so as to get help. The reprise, “Mmangwane Mpulele, Ke newa ke pula…,” underlines the call for help.

Says Samantha: “As a mother who is raising a boy child, it doesn’t sit well with me knowing that my child won’t be allowed to be strong and graceful at the same time; that when he speaks out about what he is truly feeling, it would be seen as weakness. We are using our voice and gift to speak to those issues. Our sons, brothers, husbands and fathers need help.”

The release of the song will lead into a campaign targeting boys and men called #MmangwaneMpulele. The campaign will run until the 10 December 2021 alongside the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

Also speaking at the launch, the Director of Maitisong, Tefo Paya, Noted: “There have been a lot of social ills, especially in the past two years that in Botswana have been there for a long time. In 2004, there was a spate of what was called passion killings. So we are saying let’s stop with the silence because we know the violence that leads up to it: men are not speaking up and they snap at the moment of rage. With this song, we wanted to spark intentional dialogue that leads to attitude and behaviour change and action.”

Available on all digital platforms, the new song was written by Samantha Mogwe and Thato Ntshabele. It was produced by Stretch and Guitar accompaniment by Cedric Ncube.