The Secretary General of Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU), Pagson Ntsie announced that the BOT50 theme song will be officially released on Friday 3rd of June, to massive airplay across national radio stations. According to Ntsie his organization has been handed the task of finding local artists who will compose a song that will celebrate Botswana at 50.
Recently the BOT50 committee came under heavy fire from local artists over their alleged lack of consultation and transparency in awarding the recently held music festival celebrations.
“BOMU is now in a relationship with BOT50. They have decided to consult with BOMU to find local artists who will come up with creative lines to use in the song. There have been complaints that the same people are performing and to avoid noise we have been engaged as BOMU to recommend artists for the lineups. We will try by all means to include everyone and vary, he said, further stating that they are busy at work to deliver the theme song by Friday.
The commissioning of the song has also come under question, with the short one week deadline and low budget being the biggest contention.
A letter addressed to the Secretary General of BOMU by BOT50 Coordinator Charity Kgotlafela requests the union to produce the theme song for Botswana’s 50th anniversary celebrations at a budget of P40 000. It further reads, “The song must encompass almost all music genres, appeal to all and be able to unite Batswana. The message should make emphasis on who we are, where we come from, where we are and where we are going. Our slogan ‘United and proud’ should also be incorporated into the song.”
Ntsie disclosed that he would like to see a representation of artists from all walks of life stating that he hopes the likes of Nnunu Ramogotsi, ATI, Amantle Brown, Tshepo Lesole, Charma Gal, Shumba Ratshega, Gong Master, Slizer, Bk Proctor, Kearoma Rantao, Spiza, Dedgor, Kabelo Eric, Tyte, Vee, Lizibo among many others will make the cut. “Their presence in the theme song will be determined by the agreements and creative verses submitted at our offices,” he added.
The P40,000 pula budget for the song is seen by many in the music industry as a smack in the face. According to artist Game Zeus Bantsi, “For a basic production it could be argued that the amount (P40 000) is enough. But looking at the magnitude of this project as a national campaign commemorating such a milestone, it seems that the licensing and appearance fees are undervalued according to industry standard.”
For his part, promoter and artist rights’ activist Mogomotsi Moxx Gaolape added, “How many artists will benefit because the amount is not enough. There was a call early last year for artists to submit potential theme songs and this year we are seeing the same call again and Iwould like to ask where the submitted songs are. We are talking about a collaboration here and the song production timeline is not right.”
Lizibo, one of the artists mentioned on Ntsie’s list said he has not been contacted to participate in the theme song.
To these complaints Ntsie responded, “Initially the theme song’s budget was meant for one artist and as BOMU we wanted to include more artists with the little that we have. We told artist that it is volunteer work but we will ofcourse give them something in return maybe P3000 each. It is better than nothing.”
Ntsie also added that another achievement they have made as BOMU was the decision by BOT50 to consult them on who to add to the lineup of the BOT50 activation shows.