- “Could spell the death of an already struggling entertainment industry”
- “Where will we go as entertainers?”-Promoter
- “Festivals are our bread and butter” -Artist
There was much panic and anguish after a memo from the Office of the President, trended on social media indicating that stadiums and other “public places” will no longer be used by entertainers.
This is after the commotion that led to the unfortunate death of a young patron at the just ended Gaborone International Music and Culture Week (GIMC) Festival last week. Minister of Youth Thapelo Olopeng who confirmed the memo was from OP, said on Facebook- “We will not allow certain individuals to destroy this industry by not complying to set rules. Those who take advantage of alcohol influence to destroy property will be dealt with,” he said.
This however sounds like a very reactionary declaration that must be carefully considered because if this new policy is implemented, it is bound to have dire consequences for Botswana’s fledgling entertainment industry. To this end, Time Out spoke to some of the industry players to get their reaction on government’s seemingly rash move.
Veteran Dj and broadcaster Sidney “DJ Sid” Baitsile says government’s decision is ‘knee jerk’ and said he hoped it was temporary as it could be disastrous to both the music and entertainment industry. He pointed out that the decision could destroy many sectors the entertainment industry employs and empowers like catering, sound system hiring and stage equipment specialists, advertising, security, graphic designers and most importantly youth development in the creative, arts and entertainment sector. “Fortunately, Olopeng is on our side and hopefully he will get this sorted out. Authorities and Batswana at large should note that what happened at the stadium could have happened to anyone, with heavy or light security. But we can bear it easier if security detail was well organized,” he said adding that the government was being too harsh and should instead map a way forward. “The industry has to sort itself out. I am glad the minister is on the issue. Licenses should only be given to promoters who present a confirmed and set security detail. Otherwise if this issue is not properly addressed, it could spell the death of the entertainment industry in Botswana, which is already struggling immensely!” he pointed out.
Promoter Massie Hule said the ban would kill the industry because these festivals are high income generating events. “Revenues will be cut and taken across borders to festivals in other countries. It would be very difficult and where will we go as local entertainers because we also discover new talent at these festivals,” he said and proposed that instead of banning these festivals there should be regulations put in place to ensure safety. “For example, in South Africa there is an organizing committee that executes plans to ensure safety in events and we could have something similar because these incidents have been happening,” he said.
For his part, artist Lizibo Simon said music festivals were his bread and butter. “This music industry employs a lot of people, it will affect artists and their band members. If we do not get work, we will add onto the high employment rate. Instead of banning festivals we should be looking for a solution which is coming up with regulations,” he said.
Meanwhile, the entertainment industry on Friday was hit by another tragedy after Duma FM jazz presenter and promoter Soares Katumbela died following circumstances that are still yet to be revealed. Katumbela died just before the Francistown Jazz Festival he had put together scheduled to take place this past Saturday, a day after the government announced the so-called entertainment ban. Moreover the jazz festival was postponed to a later date.