I’m not a thief- the end
A lot has been written about me over the years, most of it about all the positive things I have done. However, the few articles that have come out about me being an untrustworthy character have done me the kind of damage that all the good press put together has not been able to correct.
In the last three articles of this series, I have tried to be as open as possible about the circumstances surrounding most of these accusations. If one has been following this series, it’s easy to think that I have a problem with journalists. I am aware being in the entertainment industry means I will always attract the attention of the media, therefore, I do not have a problem with journalists except with just four names.
These four people have always had a problem with me and to give you an example: if I happened to be sitting at Ko-Setlhareng.com on a Monday morning and I saw one coming over, I knew they were not coming to buy a CD. What it usually meant was that they had caught a whiff about some scandal while drinking at Gaborone West or Gabane where artists were fond of congregating.
For instance, they did not turn up when I won a Kora Award with Machesa Traditional Group, but if it had turned out that I had done a Milli Vanilli and had to return the Kora, I guarantee you they would be all over me like a rash. It is this kind of journalism I find wrong, unfair and repulsive.
On March 6 2012, I crossed into South Africa at the Kopfontein border post, never to return home for four years, and sometime during this self-imposed exile, one of the four names contacted me through Facebook. He wanted me to comment on some allegation about Matsieng not being paid, a dead story that had been covered even before Kganka a Thulwa ke Koloi in 2008. He wanted to write about this in 2013! He wasn’t interested in what I was doing in South Africa or who I was doing it with. I knew at that point that he had either been partying in Gaborone West or Gabane.
I however always find it interesting that even after they accuse me of exploiting them, some artists still do try to return to Eric Ramco Records.
I once received a call from “person number 3” while sitting at Ko Setlhareng. He was at the time employed by Mmegi Monitor, and at the time raised yet another old allegation; I put it to him that the very person he was raising controversy about was trying to return to Eric Ramco. I invited him to come and hear him for himself at 11am, he came and I said to him: “Sit on that bench and mind your own business. When the artist comes, I’m going to sit with him at the same bench and you listen in”. The artist came, we sat next to “person number 3”; the artist laid out his desire to rejoin the record label, and he said all this within an earshot of this report.
But when his paper came out, it said something to the effect that “Eric Ramco claims artist so and so wants to return to Ramco.” Claims?! I went berserk. When I found him sipping away at the Gaborone Sun one evening, I laid it on him, asking him why he chose to be evasive about the things he himself heard first hand? When I told him that he would never write for publications like the Washington Post with his attitude, he confidently said he had no aspiration to write for the publication, much to the shock of his colleagues. It is this premeditated selective reporting which drives me mad.
I have a lot of artists that I have lost over the years over rumors and conspiracies about my credibility, most of who should have never believed half the things they were told. One such artist was Vee; He, at the height of his career in 2005, left Ramco Records amid much fanfare, joining Guffy Creations in South Africa: We all know how that went. It did not have to go down that way, but it did.
Machesa also succumbed to similar whispers when they were at the top and just when we were dreaming of a Grammy. They signed to David Ski Molosi’s Tracks Studios and with that went their number one spot in traditional music. Years later when they returned to Ramco, the magic was gone.
One hot August afternoon, Ditiro Leero took a pen at the Phakalane studios and quickly scribbled a resignation letter, from both Matsieng and Ramco. He went on to join Seabelo Modibe’s Lekoko Entertainment, later working with Robert Dargie, and sadly after that he went to prison. He is yet to reach the level of artistry he portrayed while at Ramco, and by artistry I do not mean Diane tsa Setswana.
Matsieng did the same thing and suffered a natural death after releasing an album with Bullet Ketshabile.
I have always asked one question: why do these guys have careers, cars, houses and are able to look after their families when I’m exploiting them? And the moment they leave and are far from the clutches of Eric Ramco, the hit songs end, the career, image and respect go out the window, followed by the money. Could it be that I wasn’t really ripping them off?
But can I stand here and claim that I was totally blameless in the way things happened at Ramco? No. I am guilty: just not of dishonesty. My biggest setback was being weak. I was a weak leader. I am not that anymore, and Eric Ramco SA will bear testimony to that.