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Gov't to realise dream to promote local talent through TV

Celebrating and honouring Botswana’s talent through television (TV) seems like a distant dream for the country.

Despite that fact, Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development (MYSC) Tumiso Rakgare recently assured Batswana that would soon change as government focuses on promoting local talent through TV.

Rakgare admitted that TV plays a major role in getting talent out there. “We want to see our own talent on television and we want our creatives to get rich. TV plays a vital role because for our talent to reach far places television has to play its part”, he said.

Furthermore, he said government has observed how creatives from all sectors went all out on social media during lockdown to ensure that their work reaches Batswana. He cited hot comedians Mhele Productions as one of the creatives that turned something like traditional game into a moneymaking business.

“There are soapies and dramas so our lifestyle can are expressed through arts. In the near future we should not depend on watching foreign soapies but we should watch our own.

There are many potential jobs in this sector,” he highlighted.

Rakgare’s announcement comes barely two months after government revealed that the 2020/21 – 2022/2023 Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan (ERTP) will target local film, programme and documentary producers. The focus is to ensure that Btv content is predominantly local such as the case in South Africa and Nigeria where the local film industry has grown considerably over the years.

“To improve quality and ability to compete with external content, there could be segregation between prime and non-prime time content to engender competition for the former,” read part of the plan. As such, Btv as a national broadcaster is expected to provide the platforms for Batswana stories to come alive.

Developments in the country are such that Batswana’s love for their talent is certainly in the air. Hence most creatives are ready to tell authentic stories that resonate and connect with the people of Botswana. For instance, in an interview with Arts & Culture local film and television industry professional Thabiso Ranthoyakgale said they have an array of local talent, from both actors and technical crew, some of whom studied in the best schools abroad and even locally.

Ranthoyakgale was concerned that tendering doesn’t help much as they rarely come. “Buying off

the shelf also puts upcoming creatives in the shadows because making TV is expensive, we need local broadcasters to be able to commission and even co-produce, we need to be able to pitch our ideas to them. There’s potential but systems of acquiring content make it hard for growth,” he said.

 The AFDA film school alumni added that instead the government should look at the systems in place and help enable creatives to produce more. “Also the Film Commission would come in handy, yes the TV industry is striving when tenders are out but the Film side is non existent and overlooked, MYSC could tap into that space to enable more local feature films that not only represent the country but even creatives,” he highlighted. The filmmaker and lecturer at Awil College added that Batswana are ready to see their own in TV. “Have you felt the joy of seeing someone you relate to on a bigger screen, the feeling of having a close contact make it to Netflix. Batswana are receptive to TV, look at the strands local comedians made during the first lockdown, it goes to show how bad we want this, now imagine all those comics coupled with quality productions,” he further said.

Ranthoyakgale who has made a number of films and documentaries locally also said he believes that Batswana can possibly go in head to head for that spot with South Africa because the latter work with big budgets. “Skillwise we at par with SA, we went to school with these guys, we are in talks with these guys, they’re not far fetched,” he stated.

Compared to other countries like South African and Nigeria, Botswana has not yet reaped the rewards of its investment in local talent. MYSC on the other hand is yet to substantial investment in locally produced content. MYSC is the same ministry that established NOW! TV few years back to promote and showcase local talent and also to grow Botswana Film and Television industry.

More is expected from MYSC to empower a new generation of young talent in the film and TV industry, which will see critical growth and sustainability of the country’s video entertainment industry.




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