May
22/12
Botswanas Cowboy Metalheads (18 pics)

Love it or hate it, when most people think of metal, they think of white dudes. Even if metal was born from the blues and there are growing scenes in places like Indonesia and Peru, metal’s founding fathers – Priest, Sabbath, Maiden – and most of those who’ve come after them have been unmistakably Caucasian. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to find out there was a small but passionate collection of guys who knew who Lemmy was dressed like doomsday cowboys in the predominantly black central African country of Botswana.Spared the civil wars and venal dictatorships that scar much of Africa, in its own, quiet way the Republic is something of an African success story. In 2008, South African photographer Frank Marshall accompanied a South African metal band on a one-gig tour of Gaborone, Botswana’s capital.

Botswanas Cowboy Metalheads (18 pics)

1. “The Time To Kill Is Now (Trooper)”

Botswanas Cowboy Metalheads (18 pics)

2. “Cannibal”

Botswanas Cowboy Metalheads (18 pics)

“Arriving at the small nightclub venue where they were to play, I was greeted by leather-clad Botswanan metalheads,” recalls Frank. Said metalheads had given themselves names like ‘Dead Demon Rider’, ‘Coffinfeeder’ and ‘Ishmael Phantom Lord’. “As the metal scene in South Africa is mainly white, I was immediately fascinated and thrilled by the small, tight-knit subculture that had grown up in the country.”
3. “Dead Demon Rider”

Botswanas Cowboy Metalheads (18 pics)

4. “Coffinfeeder”

Botswanas Cowboy Metalheads (18 pics)

Marshall returned a year later to make the Botswana metalheads the focus of his photography degree thesis. Marshall would come to call his project Visions of Renegades – an exhibition of his striking photographs will be held at Johannesburg’s discerning, avant-garde Rooke Gallery in July
5. “Shoot You In The Back”

Botswanas Cowboy Metalheads (18 pics)

6. “Steel Panther”

Botswanas Cowboy Metalheads (18 pics)

7. “Dethguard”

Botswanas Cowboy Metalheads (18 pics)

8. “Apothecary Dethrok”

Botswanas Cowboy Metalheads (18 pics)

9. “Maximum”

Botswanas Cowboy Metalheads (18 pics)

Giuseppe Sbrana is the lead guitarist and vocalist with the band Skinflint. He’s also one of the few white metallers in Botswana, and reckons that the scene’s dress code is ‘old school.’
“A good example of where we get the style from is Motorhead’s Ace Of Spades cover,” he says. “Also many metalheads in Botswana are cowboys from the villages and farms, so they mix the cowboy image with a biker metal look. Many wear hunting knives and parts of dead animals. We drink from the hollowed-out horns of cows.”
10. Skinflint

Botswanas Cowboy Metalheads (18 pics)

11. “Venerated Villian (Kenosi)”

Botswanas Cowboy Metalheads (18 pics)

“Metal is given very extreme respect and great dignity in Botswana,” explains Mosaka. “A metal gig here is like a religious ritual among the metallers, they become very, very delighted or even crazy sometimes whenever there is an upcoming gig. They will spend weeks preparing their leather pants, boots and other metal attire – it’s like they are preparing for war!”
12. Tshomarelo “Vulture” Mosaka from Overthrust

Botswanas Cowboy Metalheads (18 pics)

13. “Bound By The Moon”

Botswanas Cowboy Metalheads (18 pics)

14. “Bonemachine (Deeplow)”

Botswanas Cowboy Metalheads (18 pics)

The scene’s roots lies in the work of the pioneering Botswanan classic rock band Nosey Road, who formed in the 1970s. Nowadays, it’s split mainly between Gabarone and Botswana’s tourism centre, Maun (known as ‘Maun Rock City’ among scene members) and though it’s still pretty small (about 1,500 fans) what it lacks in numbers it makes up for in solidarity, as Thuto Motladiile of the band Skeletal Saints emphasises.
“The reason we have a majority black scene here isn’t because of racism – everyone comes, whites and blacks, provided the gig is in a safe and secure place. But I think it’s mostly black guys who turn up because we want to give each other support.”
15. “Medicine Man”

Botswanas Cowboy Metalheads (18 pics)

16. “White Devil”

Botswanas Cowboy Metalheads (18 pics)

17. “Morgue Boss”

Botswanas Cowboy Metalheads (18 pics)

18. “Hardcore Hellrider”

Botswanas Cowboy Metalheads (18 pics)

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