Did support for local artists grow in 2017?

  • Love for 100% local lineup in venue fill ups real support or superficial?
  • “Batswana still don’t support Batswana satisfactorily”- DJ Sid


One significant highlight of the year 2017 in Botswana’s music industry is that we witnessed an increased number of Batswana rallying behind concepts of local artists. Local artists have in the past decried lack of support and fought a losing battle against international or foreign acts headlining local gigs. In the past few years it took trending or legendary international artists to fill up venues and 100% local lineups were nonexistent as event organizers feared losing money to poorly attended events.
When local rapper Tshepiso ‘Kast’ Molapise pushed his Tlatsa Lebala concept to May 2017 as he wanted to break the stereotypes and push his dream of filling up the national stadium with a 100% local lineup. It had never been done before and he admitted that he borrowed the concept from South African rapper Cassper Nyovest. He further pushed his dream by announcing that he would undertake a 1000km walk from Maun to Gaborone to raise funds for the Tlatsa Lebala music festival. During his campaign Kast managed to gain huge following from Batswana through the hash tag #WeKnowKast online as well as recognition during his walk from Batswana in all corners of the country. History was made on the 6th of May 2017 when Kast filled up the national stadium with 100% local lineup.  It is believed that the Tlatsa Lebala initiative opened doors to more events venues and planners pushing to filling up venues in Botswana as we witnessed more festivals following suit even though some did not have 100% local lineup. Moreover, we also witnessed Batswana warming up to the idea of supporting local and attending local music festivals, something unheard of in the past.
Reached for comment entertainment industry veteran and social commentator Sidney ‘DJ Sid’ Baitsile agreed that the support had grown but not as much as he would like to have seen. “By and large, I believe it is still very superficial. Batswana still don’t support Batswana satisfactorily. The “walk” helped Kast fill up the stadium, actually, it is the walk that did it. Had he not walked, I doubt the stadium would have been filled. It was a great PR/Marketing tool for the show,” he said.
As the year draws to an end we also witnessed how Batswana were quick to support local artists as seen through Atlasaone ‘A.T.I’ Molemogi’s return to the music scene. His single Khiring Khorong was not as popular as it is now when it was released this year in July. Through the support of Batswana playing his music in local gigs, radio and booking him in most local events ATI was quickly catapulted to a new level of stardom. Baitsile opined that with A.T.I people are more or less looking for a new star besides Odirile Vee Sento saying, “Vee has been so dominant for over 15 years that an opening has come about for another dominant artist and A.T.I looks like that artist. Sadly, we still cannot rely on BW talent alone to fill up venues, especially big venues. So, to answer your question, the jury is still out for me!”
Baitsile further stated that Batswana artists need to be more innovative in their marketing to pull more crowds to their events. Cassper Nyovest’s strategy is to fill up venues as he recently filled up Soccer City stadium and sold 68 000 tickets. “Batswana in general need to be open minded with BW talent, listen to them without comparing them to Michael Jackson…appreciate their talent for what it is so in the end it comes as second nature to them,” he concluded.