‘Another lockdown and artists will look elsewhere for survival’

A promoter is appealing to Batswana to support a call for 100 percent local lineup at festivals post lockdowns because it is six months since the industry ground to a halt. Staff Writer GOSEGO MOTSUMI reports

Observers are predicting that the creative industry will have lost a considerable number of people to other sectors by the end of lockdowns for control of COVID-19 because their livelihoods have ground to a halt. With the announcement of the lockdown for Gaborone and Greater Gaborone that was announced on Saturday and lifted this Tuesday, the ray of hope for the industry to reopen that came with the recent relaxation of the tough conditions was snuffed out.

“I cannot begin to imagine the kind of depression creatives are now in as a result of the lockdowns and cancelled gigs,” said promoter Godwin Sebina, who is better known as Exotic, in an interview. “Creatives struggled through the first lockdown, and now the struggle continues. By the end of the fight against the pandemic, the industry will have lost people to other sectors. No one can choose to stay where there is no light at the end of the tunnel.”

Kwaito star Odirile Vee Mampeezy Sento, who is a full-time artist, felt much the same before the second lockdown was lifted. He said he was just beginning to collaborate with local and foreign artists towards making some progress in his music career when the disastrous announcement of the second lockdown for the capital was made. But perhaps more tellingly, Timothy Sabutha, who is also known as DJ LaTimmy, had posted that he is seriously seeking counselling because he is losing hope.

For remedy, Exotic is appealing to Batswana for 100% local lineup support in festivals and sees improved quality music and more investment in local talent resulting from this. “If things don’t change by August, creatives will not make any money this year,” he said. “We should support our people if we truly believe in local empowerment. This is the chance.”

Afro Jazz artist Thabang Garogwe is also in support of the call for a 100% local lineup, saying it is a means of ensuring development of the arts and improving the welfare of artists. “Let’s look at farming, for example,” Garogwe said. “They stop imports whenever there is sufficient local produce. This does not mean they don’t want to see their products exported to other countries but it is a matter of principle to allow locals to sell and benefit without unfair competition.”