Mad Max in Botswana

Botswana has a thriving heavy metal scene. These metal heads have their own specific style too.

One of Frank Marshall's images of Batswana metalheads that have been doing the rounds on a number of websites.

Botswana, in Southern Africa, has a reputation as a sparsely populated country where not much happens. Except when visiting American Presidents go hunt there.  There’s the government’s treatment of minorities (ethnic, sexual, immigrants, etcetera) or that it’s been governed by the same people since independence in 1966, but no one seems to care. But Botswana seems to have something else: a thriving heavy metal scene. All indications are the bandscan play. Here’s what interesting: The players and fans are black in this scene. An anomaly–according to photographer Frank Marshall— in Southern Africa’s mainly white metal scene. As Marshall wrote separately on, “… when most people think of metal, they think of white dudes.”

It turns out these Botswana metalhead also have their own unique heavy metal fashion sense. Gizmodo, one of the hipster blogs and websites quick to profile them, summarizes the style as a mashup of “… a cowboy aesthetic with lots of leather for an idiosyncratic, end-times-warrior look.”

In a piece — entitled “Botswana’s metal fans are perfecting the Thunderdome chic,” its reporter notes that Botswana metalhead draw their fashion sense from Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister, among others. It quotes Marshall: “… The costumes are like an arms race amongst the scene members […] There’s a competition between them to see who can look the most brutal.”

In a post on Vice in April this year, the scene in Botswana is summarized as follows:

The photos show a world that’s at once familiar and strange to anyone acquainted with metal. Yes, there’s an obvious novelty in seeing a black African guy in an Angel Witch tee surrounded by savanna, but there are other things here that don’t fit, like  the cowboy hats and leather gear adopted from biker fashion. So much attention to detail goes into the costumes. The Botswanan metalheads stand tall, proud, and aloof. It’s all wonderfully homoerotic.

By the way, Vice Media has made a feature documentary about a Batswana’s metalhead band.

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