Known as the king of Rumba, Franco Lesokwane is a top selling Rumba dance musician with his albums hitting number one on the charts consecutively.
Here's a little more about Botswana's king of Rumba
Here's a little more about Botswana's king of Rumba
Franco Early Life
Things were a bit of a hurricane in Franco’s life before he became the artist we know him to be. Before his success, the artist traded a gun for a guitar and was bitten by the music bug when he was still in the army where he featured in one of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) bands. But even when he was in the military, he used to sing with civilian groups including Nata Capricorn.
But when he felt that the stringent military regiment was stifling his creativity, he resigned from the army. One of the groups he joined in 2000 after leaving the army, was Alfredo Mos Africa Sounds, which he didn't stay with for long as he formed his own band in 2001.
That was the year he released his debut album, and since then he has been setting the stage on fire.
Franco & Afro Musica
Franco and Afro Musica is a twelve piece kwasa kwasa band from Gabane, Botswana.
The band was founded by Franco and after playing and providing vocals for other leading Kwasa kwasa bands in Botswana, Franco, together with Tanzanian born lead guitarist, Shabani Mwanasande Yohana, formed the band and started touring the country.
They recruited other soukous experts and recorded their first album, Ke lela le lona, which loosely translates to "I am crying with you". Other members of Afro Musica are DannyBass Dikole Gasebatho (bass guitar), Oxy Oxygen Ntoko (Drum), Samurai Ngingo (lead guitar).
After Ke lela le lona, the band has produced albums annually. The band released their most popular single Tshutshumakgala (a tswana name for a train), which won them their first Botswana Music Union (BOMU) Award.
Their songs are usually about controversial issues in the society like witchcraft, promiscuity and death. They tend to write material that is very personal and in each album, the band has at least one song that tells a story about a certain village in Botswana, which has earned them a good following. The band has won several awards, including the BOMU "Best Kwasa Kwasa Album of the Year" two years in a row.
However, in his first ever music video for his new album Mmamane Robala, Lesokwane, did not feature his back-up band or dancers. Nor did he have them accompany him in interviews and behind the scene footage and he is unapologetic about it.
I gave them publicity on my cassette and CDs, what more do people want. I have written about those guys on my album sleeves. I do not think it was so important to feature them in the video.
When Franco was asked why the band did not receive the same exposure he gave himself in the video, he said plainly, “We did not see it necessary to do so. People will talk as they always do, but it is up to the management to decide these things. Maybe Afro Musica will appear in the next video.”
In April 2005, the band supported Koffi Olomide in his African tour. Koffi was quoted as saying - I am shocked to learn that the standards of the rhumba music in the country are this high.
Career & Albums
Since 2001, Lesokwane has been releasing an album each year. And every time he comes out of the studio, he does not disappoint.
Franco took the music industry by storm in 2001 when he released his debut album, Ke Lela le Lona. Ke Lela le Lona became one of the country's top selling albums by a local artist.
He followed it up with his second release, Ba Ntatola, which turned into an instant success. Tracks from this album were always blaring in taxis and pubs throughout the country. He also released his third album Robala Nnana, the following year which sent music fans into a state.
Franco claims that his last album sold more than 70,000 copies and it’s also been reported to be an instant hit in Namibia where he has staged several concerts.
He is one of the few local musicians who has proved that one can earn a living out of music. Especially at a time where being a music meant an unstable lifestyle and little to no income.
Franco Cheats Death
In 2017, Lesokwane escaped death by a whisker after unidentified perpetrators burnt his house and car in Mmankgodi.
According to the musician, the arsonists burned his property at around 11pm. Luckily, he did not sustain any injuries as he escaped with his life.
“I was watching a football game around 11pm when I saw my sitting room door going up in flames. I was able to scream for my neighbours, who helped me to break the burglar door down. We managed to put out the fire with water,” he said to Mmegi Online.
The Ke Lela Le Lona hitmaker told Showbiz that it looked like the perpetrators used a flammable liquid that smelt like petrol to get the job done. He said they poured the liquid under the door and on his car, a 2005 Toyota Grand Hiace.
Franco Gives Back
Franco has contributed to several community projects. A couple of years back, when another local group, Da Vet Crew embarked on a country-wide cycling tour to raise funds for the White City/Bontleng Home Based Care Centre, he was one of the artists who made a financial contribution to the fund. He also volunteered to perform at the welcoming ceremony when the group arrived in Gaborone.
Franco, who is renowned to lead a clean life, has become a true role model for the youth.
During a press conference in late January, local rhumba legend Franco revealed that he is targeting between 15,000 and 20,000 people at his Soul Fill Up with Franco music festival to be held at the National Stadium on April 4, 2020.
The national stadium capacity is 25,000-seater, with Franco aiming to sell 20,000 tickets therefore if he goes on to fill the stadium and attract that number, he will become a millionaire by April 5.
Already Franco is selling early bird tickets, which are selling at P100 each therefore if he sells 10,000 tickets, for example, he will make a million before he even sells the rest.
Early bird tickets are limited and only available for a certain period of time so it is possible that most people will start buying the ticket since at the preferred normal cost of P150.
Let us say he manages to sell 15,000 normal tickets, he will make P2,250,000. Moreover, Franco’s VIP ticket costs P800 so if he manages to sell 100 VIP tickets he will get P80,000.
The originator of stadium fill ups, Cassper Nyovest, once told anybody that would listen that he was broke before filling up the FNB Stadium.
He was quoted saying that he even considered selling one of his cars. Last year after filling up the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Cassper Nyovest opened up about being R7 million in debt.
With so many factors like paying the venue, sound and stage, performers, and covering the turf at the stadium, Franco is likely to spend more, but he will surely profit more if sponsors jumped on board.
Franco’s An Icon
Franco's music has elevated him into a legend and a national treasure. Not only is he regarded as a celebrity, he also has several endorsement deals with various large brands.
He’s a people’s person and he is never without an invite or two to officiate at agricultural shows and other important social functions. He has also given inspirational talks to students and is involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
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