Mmegi Online :: What next for GIMC?
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Friday 21 September 2018, 15:09 pm.
What next for GIMC?

Gaborone International Music and Culture (GIMC) week, a weeklong event that runs from end of August to beginning of September, closed the year in tragedy. The tragic death of a fan, who perished in a stampede at the National Stadium gates, tainted the event and almost led to a permanent ban on music festivals at stadiums and public places last year. Almost 10 months later, the event has already lined up notable headliners to solidify their stance as one of the biggest events to attend in Africa. Arts & Culture's MOMPATI TLHANKANE spoke to GIMC founder, Thapelo Pabalinga, to get a feel of what would be different this time around
By Mompati Tlhankane Fri 15 Jun 2018, 12:48 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: What next for GIMC?

A&C: From Kirk Whalum and Jonathan Butler last year to Musiq SoulChild this year, what is the biggest improvement about this year’s headliners in the Jazz festival?

Pabalinga: Musiq Soulchild appeals to a slightly younger audience as compared to Kirk and JB. In terms of appeal and following, Musiq Soulchild is far more popular, I don’t want to say he is a bigger artist, but he certainly commands more following. If you look at some of his record sales there are in excess of 10 million, Youtube views for some of his videos in excess of 35 million.


A&C: There are many other jazz festivals in Botswana throughout the year, what differentiates the GIMC Jazz from others?

Pabalinga: GIMC Jazz is about quality performances. It’s fully live, and no back track. The equipment specifications we use is the very best in the world, which is why when the sound comes out it's pure, crystal clear and almost like listening to music on a CD. This we will maintain and protect with our lives. The event is positioned as a premium music event.


A&C: The venues for the jazz festival still have not changed, are you expecting the same crowd every year? Is there any room for expansion?

Pabalinga: The venue hasn’t changed because it works well for us. It’s important to go with solutions that work so that we don’t trial too many things. The growth in numbers is there annually so we are not too worried about that. GIMC Jazz being about quality, is our concern and keeping it like that, so trying to create huge numbers is the least of our focus area.


A&C: You have included hottest newcomers like Motlha in the lineup, how is that going to work out for the festival?

Pabalinga: We placed Motlha at the Jazz because he has a crossover appeal for both the young and old. The other decision is based on the fact that Motlha is a live performer as opposed to being a back track one. So, at the Jazz it’s full live whereas at the Festival it’s semi-live and back track.


A&C: The poetry event keeps growing every year, from Lebo Mashile in 2016 to Mma Kay last year, what is the criterion for choosing these foreign poets?

Pabalinga: We don’t always do foreign acts for the poetry, like this year we have only locals.  The selection throughout GIMC, whether local or international, is always based on what the artists bring, how good they are, how much people want to see them, it's driven by what our supporters want.


A&C: This year there is an inclusion of a Setswana language poet. How do you intend to brand the event going forward?

Pabalinga: Poetry is delivered in all languages, Setswana, English, French, Spanish and many others, so including Setswana doesn’t mean we must change anything, it's still poetry. We may not have had it in the past, but it wasn’t because we didn’t value Setswana poetry. One of everything happens in its own good time.


A&C: Looking at what happened last year at the National Stadium, how are you going to reinforce the security this


time around?

Pabalinga: A lot of media misreported on what happened at the stadium last year and we have not focused on talking about it much for obvious reasons of respecting the fact that a life was lost.  What transpired was when tickets were sold out, those that were outside refused to accept this reality and decided to break open gates and tried to scale the walls etc and in this process the fatality happened because once lawlessness kicks in a lot goes wrong. To ensure this doesn’t happen we are in talks already with Botswana Police to give us a lot more men and women to maintain law and order as well as beef up the numbers of our private security. But ultimately we also need people who attend the festival to behave in an acceptable manner and not come to the festival with the sole intention of causing problems. To mitigate against some of the bad behaviour we will use metal detectors to search everyone going in, no tickets sold at the venue, and go on a public campaign to educate people about the need to behave well in a festival hence our tagline #Here2HaveFun. We only want people that come to the festival who are there to have fun.


A&C: So far what is your biggest regret and achievement about the GIMC in general?

Pabalinga: Regret is certainly what happened last year. I was let down by most stakeholders I worked with who did not grant us the necessary support to have at least averted what transpired. But be that as it may, the other disappointment is also in those who chose to break down gates and damage property at the National Stadium when they were told to go home as tickets had run out.

We need to weed out this type of behaviour from the society that tend to misplace blame on promoters and think that the police are shortsighted. It must start with the individual who must know what’s right and what’s wrong.

Achievements are plenty. One of them is the fact that GIMC is now ranked as one of the top 10 festivals to attend in Africa. This is huge and if well supported, it can easily become one of the biggest in the world. The other achievement is also how GIMC has been able to establish strategic links with other festivals throughout and help place local artists to perform in those festivals. Ordinarily, Batswana artists are struggling to perform in bigger festivals outside Botswana.

So, we have opened those doors. From a business standpoint, the value chain created by GIMC for SMMEs is big, as they make a lot of money out of being associated with the festival or providing services to the festival. If we had at least six festivals a year of GIMC size then certainly most artists, SMMEs would be better off. In terms of the positives brought about by the growth of GIMC they are plentiful, we can write a whole book about them, but the ones I mention above are at the top of my head.

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