MASERU – Renowned poet Thabo Marebole has his mother’s means of putting food on the table to thank for shaping him into the poet he is today.
Marebole says his passion for poetry was heavily influenced by the environment in which he grew up, especially in terms of music and other creative activities that he was exposed to from a young age.
The self-claimed arts ambassador was raised by a single mother who sold traditional beer at home for a living.
As usual in Lesotho, the business goes along with the playing of a lot of ‘famo’ music to entertain clients and Marebole’s home was not an exception.
Fortunately for him, that is where he picked up creativity and the art of words from.
The Koalabata-based poet affirms he has always known that he has it in him to be one of the most talented poets but only got the platform when he was in Form A at Rasetimela High School.
It was in 2007 while still at the same school that he began stage performances during academic competitions.
When starting out, his poems were mostly motivated by politics and African struggles but as he grew older he began to be inspired by life and everyday happenings and, lately, by his thoughts.
He emphasises that being in conscious spaces and around art passionate people helps as some conversations spark topics and stories to write poems about.
The poet says he grew up looking up to Mzwakhe Mbuli and Maak Manaka mainly because of their delivery and powerful voices.
He says coming from a “not so fortunate background” he was not exposed to a lot of literature material so he does not have a lot of poets he grew up looking up to for inspiration.
Marebole is a member Petsoa Majoeng Arts and Entertainment (PMAE), a movement which consists of poets, musicians, event planners, graphic designers and photographers which was established in September 2014 to promote the creative and entertainment industry in the country.
Marebole indicates that Lesotho has a potential to thrive as far as the creative industry is concerned.
All that is needed are more platforms, endorsements, and places that accommodate their crafts as artistes so that they can reach a wider audience and have as many shows and festivals as possible, he observes.
He maintains that the financial state of the youth in Lesotho is not helping because they lack funding to finance brilliant ideas and pleads with Basotho to support them in large numbers.
Marebole says the fact that there are not enough or any creative festivals to open up the market so that they can get international recognition is a huge crisis.
The passion-driven poet has achieved a lot throughout his journey as a poet.
He heartily recalls winning the UNFPA High Schools Poetry competition at both regional and districts levels.
He was also part of the performing acts at the first Lesotho Tourism Festival (LETOFE) poetry and comedy fest last year.
One of his greatest achievements includes establishing and hosting his very own poetry sessions “Mora-Mobu Poetry Sessions” that began in 2018 along Maqalika Dam.
He says this year was the second edition which featured a guest poet from South Africa named Ts’eliso Seroki.
Being among the pioneering performers of one of the biggest poetry and rap sessions hosted by PMAE called the Golden Mic Sessions also forms part of the poet’s successes.
He does not forget his debut performance abroad at the Free State Arts Fusion, a moment in his career that he says he will always cherish.
Among many festivals that he graced with his poetry is the Ba re e ne re Literature Festival that hosted the likes of South African poet Napo Masheane.
“I have also had the privilege of rubbing shoulders and sharing stages with people like Queen Mo, Sadon, Pitso Ramakhula, Mpho Sefali, Refiloe Mabejane, Lineo Segoete and Akso.
“I worked on the Earth Hour theme song with T Mech, Stlofa and Skebz D. Internationally I shared stages with Ntsiki Mazwai in 2012 when I won the Molengoane Poetry Competition,” Marebole reveals.
Although poetry mostly serves as a form of entertainment, it is a career for Marebole.
“The career, however, has its days as today it can put food on the table but at other times it does not due to the fact that the industry in Lesotho is still only in its infancy,” he states.
Nonetheless Marebole maintains that it is entirely up to them as artistes to put material that people can take their money out to buy.
He says because he is driven by passion over everything, he will not stop writing because writing is very close to his heart and therefore giving up is not a problem; money problems present or not.
His very first poem that scooped him victory at the UNFPA competition is his all-time favourite.
The poem presented him an opportunity to perform at the International Aids Day and was therefore about the HIV/Aids pandemic and was the first he wrote himself.
Marebole aspires to tell his stories abroad and actually host a lot of international poets at the Mora-Mobu Poetry session to attract creative artistes to the Mountain Kingdom.
He also wants to venture into infusing music into his poetry recitations and eventually record them as songs to reach different people.
“Know what you do this for. Keep your focus at that and be brave enough to stand by your craft even when trends are shifting and be humble enough to seek advice at all times,” are his words to aspiring poets.