BOMU to lodge a complaint and seek the management to review the showBack in the late 90’s when the Botswana government drafted a law that later gave birth to Botswana Television, excitement gripped the country as Batswana had many expectations from the bourgeoning television station. The content managers did not disappoint as they brought out a wide variety of programs that Batswana easily related to. Programs like Mokaragana and Flavor Dome were commissioned with the objective of entertaining Batswana “with an obligation of exposing the best of Botswana music talent,” according to the national television website. Mokaragana became successful in terms of the number of people who watched the show and those who graced the live recording sessions. The talent of past presenters fuelled the enthusiasm of artists to perform on the Mokaragana stage and as a result many artists coverted the exposure Mokaragana offered.
Local companies including Blue Crystal Sugar, Orange Botswana and Golden Fruittook pride in sponsoring the television show. And then the inevetiable happened. The show began to lose its sparkle as the production values fell and the format remained unchanged. The producers also failed at attracting quality presenters who could live up to the legacy of presenters like Joel Ntsoro Keitumile. But BOMU secretary general and public relations ofﬁcer, Pagson Ntsie remains optimistic. According to him the program remains a great platform to expose and market Botswana talent across borders because BTV is watched in South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Lesotho and Zimbabwe. He was quick to note that the show has lost its relevance because of its laxed screening policy by “ featuring every aspiring artist without screening them ﬁrst.” He noted that this is a major setback because it destroys the face of the Botswana music industry.
“If people see an artist performing on a national television platform, they take it that, that artist is crème de la crème of our music industry and this hinders our artists getting gigs across borders,” he said. An established artist who is a BOMU award winner, commented anonymously and said that the last time he performed on the show was in 2011 when Mokaragana was presented by Joel Keitumile. “Back then, the show was great, looking at the presenter and the caliber of artists who performed there. Today, every upcoming artist including those who recorded their albums in bedroom studios are afforded the opportunity to perform on the stage. This makes me wonder if indeed the current producer of this show realizes that he is killing our industry,” he said. He further said that the current crop of presenters are the worst that the show has ever had in its history.
Holding the same view that Mokaragana is a great initiative which is badly executed is Thabang Gaarogwe of ‘Ke a gana’ fame who said that he strongly believes that artists should be screened thoroughly. ““If I were the producer of that show, most of the artists would not have had the privilege to perform on Mokaragana, because most of these upcoming artists come unprepared and not dressed satisfactorily. On many occasions I witnessed bad acts on Mokaragana.
The music production was below standard and the artist’s stage presence was a joke,” he said. Pagson Ntsie added that the Music Union is calling on artists to sign a petition to BTV lodging a complaint and asking the management to review the show. “We are also working hard to come up with possible solutions and suggestions on how to grow Mokaragana,” he said. When reached for comment, Botswana Television public relations ofﬁcer Ndulamo Ntopo said that they are not aware of any complaints from artists or BOMU and she further shared that the last sponsorship Mokaragana had was in 2011. In answering what the sponsorship revenue was, she declined to comment saying that she was not at liberty to disclose contractual information to a third party. In answering what the sponsorship revenue was used for, she said that like any other government revenue collected, the funds were paid into the government coffers to be used by the government according to her priorities during the budget allocations.