Abednico Sechaba claimed the Thapong artist of the year award at a glittering ceremony held on Friday at the Thapong Visual Arts Centre.
The ceremony marked the eighth edition of the prestigious prize. Sechaba ÔÇô a sketch artist ÔÇô emerged the judges’ favourite from a collection of more than 100 artists who entered this year’s competition, from diverse categories such as drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, graphics and crafts.
The award is meant to recognise an artist who has exhibited excellence and tenacity in producing works of art for over a period of a year.
The artist of the year award came with a cheque of P25, 000 and it wasn’t the only prize given out on the night.
Keatlaretse Kwati took the runner-up artist of the year award and walked away with P20, 000; Kentse Bogatsu won the award for outstanding contribution to visual arts and took home a cheque for P15, 000; Roger Brown was awarded the prize for outstanding young artist and left with a P10, 000 cheque; and Oof Neema won the photography award and took home P5, 000.
The Media award is meant to recognise journalists who have provided the Thapong Visual Arts Centre with exceptional coverage for more than a year; Phemelo Ramusu of the Midweek Sun took that honour and the P5, 000 that came with it while Ketshepile More of the Daily News took the runner up award of P3, 500.
The judges commented that amongst the 104 entries, there were 67 upcoming artists and 37 established artists.
The entries were split in gender between 26 female artists and 78 male artists. The judges also expressed delight that entries had come from places as far flung as Maun, Zwenshambe and the Tswapong area, not just within Gaborone and surrounding villages.
The judges of this year’s award were Mr. Philip Segola, a veteran artist and former Principal Curator at the Botswana National Museum, Monuments and Art Gallery; Mr. Edwin Dichaba, the Head of the Art Department at the Molepolole College of Education; and Neo Matome, an artist, former curator and graphic designer currently employed at the University of Botswana.
Amongst the distinguished speakers at the event was the assistant Minister of Finance, Dr. Gloria Somolekae, who spoke about the Botswana government’s continued commitment to promoting the country’s culture through the work of its artists.
The sponsors of this year’s event were the Department of Arts and Culture, the Botswana Tourism Board, Mascom, the French Embassy and the Chinese Embassy.