With a desk, pencil, exercise book, lunch pack, and a list of speakers featuring a Head Girl, Head Boy, naughtiest student and principal, the setting easily passed for a classroom. But hold your horses before you rush off to the Ministry of Education and start squealing about schools being turned into sleaze pits of booze. It was in fact the launch of the eleventh instalment of the biggest annual all school reunion in the country, Bak2Skul, on Thursday November 21st.
“The annual Bak2Skul Festival is Botswana’s biggest youth oriented outdoor festival that has been running since 2004 in Gaborone,” says ‘Head Boy’ Goitseone Tshiamiso, one of the founding members. He says the concept was borne out of patriotism after realising Batswana were pumping money into neighbouring countries’ economies in the name of entertainment.
The launch was held at Yarona Country Lodge in Mogoditshane, a relatively small venue where the first couple of Bak2Skul festivals took place before moving to more open areas like the Gaborone Dam Water Front and Gaborone North farm; a clear indication of how the festival has grown over the years.
“Bak2Skul has boosted economic activity in Gaborone during the festive season and has created opportunities for the entertainment, hospitality, transport and advertising companies,” Tshiamiso says.
“It has also put Botswana on the regional map as evidenced through the influx of South Africans who attend the event every year,” he said.
Tshiamiso says the festival has attracted over 26000 revellers since inception. Clad in the chequered shirt that has recently become synonymous with the festival, ‘principal’ Taolo Entaile says in an effort to give back to their supporters they, in collaboration with Richman (PTY) Ltd, have introduced a competition which will afford one lucky ‘student’ an opportunity to ride away in a brand new car. “For anyone in the 2014 Bak2Skul Register they must send a Text Message to register and take an exam that will be posted to them through text messaging. The more questions they answer the better their chances of winning a brand new VW POLO.” He says they will also give away 1000 Pula a week for the duration of January. “It is an exciting time for us to be launching these competitions that give back to the community at large and we have all the intention to continue with the competitions every year.”
Perhaps in an effort to thwart the efforts of would be copycats Bak2Skul will take the festival to various strategic villages/towns around the country throughout December. “This will allow us to take the Bak2Skul brand and other activities to all major parts of Botswana. We are embarking on the Bak2lala Tour to increase our footprint across the country to educate potential patrons about the Bak2Skul culture and lifestyle,” Entaile says.
The main event, taking place on New Year’s Day, has almost invariably been plagued by heavy downpours but this time around, Entaile says, they will ensure it does not rain on their parade.
“This time we have gone to extreme lengths to prepare for all possible weather conditions. There will be a lot of temporary easy to pitch tents on standby throughout the venue as well as umbrellas and raincoats.”
Also gracing the launch was Gaborone Mayor, Haskins Nkaigwa, who lauded the Bak2Skul initiative for bringing the city to life during the festive season. The Mayor’s office will partner with Bak2Skul and Limkokwing University to adopt a school as part of the government’s Adopt a School initiative.