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Shock as Hamptons postpones

Debbie Smith
Music lovers have been left shocked after a last minute postponement of one of the best annual music gatherings in Botswana, Hamptons Jazz Festival.

The festival was scheduled for tomorrow at the Duma FM grounds.

This comes after the Gaborone City Council (GCC) cut the festival’s operating hours from 2pm until midnight.  The organisers had sought permission to run the show from 10am to 6am the following day.

“On behalf of The Hamptons Jazz Festival, its organisers and sponsors, we wish to apologise to the public that we have had to postpone the show to a date in the near future to be advised,” read a press release from the show organisers.

The organisers revealed that they went to beg the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development for extension and their pleas fell on deaf ears. “We are compelled to postpone the event because the hours permitted for the show cannot accommodate our artist line up,” further read the statement.

The permit issued by GCC meant that Hamptonettes, as Hampton diehards are called, would only get to enjoy 10 hours of music from 15 artists with most artists only getting to perform for 30 minutes. For a festival that was estimated to cost around P4.5 million, the postponement doesn’t come as a surprise because the organisers accuse the GCC of sending them on a wild goose chase.

Boasting of an impressive lineup headlined by Billy Ocean and Salif Keita, the Hamptons Jazz Fest is without a doubt Botswana’s own version of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, which runs from today until tomorrow. But for Hamptons Jazz Fest, the axe was long put on their neck last month when GCC revoked their permit and the effects were as bad as a doctor telling a patient they were about to die.

Even before the postponement, the organisers were adamant that the festival will continue no matter what. No information about the detailed schedule was clear up until yesterday when the organisers posted time slots showing the play schedule for each artist on Facebook.

Before yesterday afternoon’s shock announcement, the festival’s still hopeful, but obviously fast despairing CEO, Debbie Smith told Arts & Culture that they were still fighting to get the

hours extended. “With this situation, there is more to it than meets the eye. We are having talks as we speak so the situation might change between now and the festival,” she said at the time. Smith said GCC refused to allow them to at least start in the morning and possibly conclude at midnight.

GCC Clerk, Mpho Mathe told said in an interview yesterday that the promoters of the festival applied for the noise permit late. “They got their permit yesterday (Wednesday) but they have long received their alcohol permit in February,” he said. Mathe argued that bye-law noise permits differ, hence the Hamptons promoters could only be issued with the permit that allows them to run from 2pm until midnight.

However Gaborone Mayor, Kagiso Thutlwe posted on Facebook yesterday evening calling on the Minister Thapelo Olopeng to intervene on their behalf.

Thutlwe said the central government should do the honourable thing and allow the Hamptons Jazz festival to take place just like in the past and like many festivals that have enjoyed the long hours.

 “I want to take this time to distance myself from the ongoing fracas as the Mayor of Gaborone and the Honourable Councillors of the City. We believe in our event organisers and we fully support the arts within the city of Gaborone”, he stated on Facebook.

While music fans and jazz lovers of a similar and bigger festival like Cape Town jazz fest can expect two days of fun from world-class music by jazz greats and upcoming artists alike, GCC could only afford the Hamptonettes happiness for 10 hours and afterwards everyone sadly troop back to their homes.

Perhaps with the United Nations’ (UN) World Happiness Report 2018 having recently ranked Botswana as one of the least happy countries in the world, it does not come as a big surprise. 

The press release bearing the sad news said the organisers were in talks with all the artists in their line up to agree on a mutually convenient date within the next month.

“We shall keep you posted,” they said.




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