Stage production directed by Andrew Kola, highlight of the night
In their quest to give Batswana a glimpse of the festivities of the International Tourism Bourse expo (ITB Berlin) that took place in March 2017 in Germany, Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) staged the ITB show at the GICC. ITB Berlin is considered the leading travel and trade show in the world and Botswana was the first Sub Saharan country to ever partner with ITB Berlin.
According to the minister of tourism, Tshekedi Khama ITB Berlin is visited by people from over 180 countries, totalling 160, 000 people and covering 160k square meters and an annual turnover of 7 billion Euro. “Countries in the past have recorded an increase in national tourism arrivals of over 15% within the first 6 months after ITB and we are looking forward to that increase,” he said.
A stage production by directed by Andrew Kola and narrated by Gabrielle Modise was among the highlights of the night. The traditional dance ensemble of 35 artists from 10 diverse groups told the story of Botswana’s tourism attractions through song and dance. The troupe invaded the stage clad in traditional Setswana attires dancing in fast paced movements, surrounded by Setswana ornaments as stage props before making it rain on stage much to the delight of the audience.
Speaking to TimeOut about the creative concept behind the dance, Kola who is also Mophato Dance Theatre’s creative director, said the performance takes a tourist or their audience through Botswana and her major tourist attractions. He said the show was “our very own traditional dance moves and songs incorporated with theatre.”
“It is basically commercial work marketing the country outside. We picked people from different traditional groups, rehearsed for two months and left for Berlin on the 8th of March. Obviously BTO gave a brief of what they wanted to communicate and I creatively turned the ideas into a stage production,” he said.
Kola went on to say they were able to pull off the production the same way as in Berlin, which goes to show that with enough resources the arts industry is able to make an impact.
“This production will forever remain the way it is. This just goes to show the impact of the creative arts. BTO provided everything needed, there were no limits and that is how we managed to pull off this production that garnered a standing ovation,” he opined.
Meanwhile, there were other attractions at the Gaborone exposé including a live painting by son of the brush, Wilson Ngoni who painted a 3m canvas depicting dancers from the stage production as well as the A Girls ethnic dolls among others.
However, Tshekedi mentioned that in Berlin there was an adventure stall showcasing traditional crafting techniques and a stand donated by De Beers telling the story of 50 years. “Many of the 3500-strong audience never imagined Botswana could accomplish such a professional performance,” he said.