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Culture, Creative Industries: The New Gems

Ilovebotswana at ITB Berlin PIC: THALEFANG CHARLES
Botswana’s economy has experienced a battering of late due to depressed mineral sales and low farm yields due to drought. Culture and Creative industry (CCI) has emerged with a potential to revive and diversify the country’s ailing economy.

Batswana have very interesting, diverse, vibrant and economically viable culture and history.

Arts and culture events and festivals provide a stimulus to its economy if efforts are made to vigorously package, brand and promote such activities along with the dominant wildlife tourism activities and programmes in an economically viable manner.

It will also give Botswana tourism a human face instead of the prevailing one of an ‘imagined zoo’ full of majestic elephants, lions, buffaloes constantly running away from poachers as Professor Joseph Mbaiwa insinuated in some of his numerous and informative researches.

It should be noted however, that some section of our society have held that the majority of culture and creative industry sectors and in particular night life based entertainment as a nuisance to be associated with social deviance such as alcoholism, thuggery and noise.

We need to appreciate its economic benefit and work on mitigating the real and perceived negatives.  When an event is held a lot of people benefit directly and indirectly. If an event attracts 10, 000 people at the national stadium, this will spill over to other sectors.  Transport industry (Taxis and cabs), Catering (Bo mmaseapei around the venue and VIP caterers), Security and cleaning (in and around the venue), BNSC (stadium has to be paid for), Artists and their management to name but a few. One event has the potential to see million being pumped into the economy and put food on the tables of many.

While the contribution of the culture and creative industry to the economy of Botswana cannot be confidently quantified in monetary terms for lack of statistical data; the patronage of the country’s flagship events such as Gaborone International Music and Culture Week (GIMC), Botswana Craft, Dithubaruba, Maun Arts Festival, Domboshaba, Toropo Ya Muka, Kuru Cultural Festival as well as government

programmes such as the Presidents Day Art Competitions testifies to the culture and creative industry’s strength as an economic driver in communities—a growth industry that supports jobs, generates government revenue, and is the cornerstone of tourism.

This challenges industry stakeholder (Events organisers and sponsors) to fully exploit the value chain in its entirety for economic gain.

It necessitates professionalism in execution of events so as to build interest and excitement around the event which will hopefully culminate into high patronage ensuring maximum returns.

To achieve this, strong partnerships with critical stakeholders such as venue owners, transport industry, catering, ticketing, media and public relations firms among others are very crucial. Strategic partnerships will go a long way in reducing conflicts over events dates, venue bookings, artists double bookings, lax security, and non-appearance of artist among others.

We should also bring on board the tourism industry and make them realise that events in and around areas such as Kasane and Maun need to be supported to offer tourism a different kind of entertainment and night life that only Botswana can.

However this should not be misconstrued that I suggest some events which are cultural celebrations of a particular ethnic group should sacrifice their unique heritage and identity at the altar of commercialism.  I merely suggest we repackage our events, be responsive to customer (local and international) needs while maximising returns for the benefit of the organisation, local communities, participating artists and sustainability of events. 

The world is so depressed so let’s do our bit and help them dance, sing and paint it away the Botswana way while cashing on it. True to  Banjo Mosele’s song ‘Ga re thete re tsetswe jalo’

*Tshireletso Modikwa is employed as a Programs Officer-Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development but writes in his personal capacity.

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