Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Botswanacraft acquires more cultural space

Perhaps the only place in the country that offers a full-range cultural smorgasbord, Botswanacraft Marketing, is literally expanding to cater for its growing clientele.

Oliver Groth, the Managing Director, reveals that the company recently bought an adjoining plot from Western Industrial “and we are in the process of getting the required permissions to extend our facilities and hopefully take our venue to the next level”.

At the level where it is presently, Botswanacraft is the venue that hosts “Letlhafula Festival”, Botswana premier harvest-home festival which takes place in May and showcases the best of traditional food and music. Letlhafula has a special section where children play traditional games and do other activities under the guidance of a cultural ambassador. The festival has been running for 12 years now and has inspired both home-grown and international enthusiasm. Locally, the enthusiasm is such that as early as January people were calling Botswanacraft asking when the festival would be held and international tourists from as far afield as the United States visit Botswana especially for Letlhafula.

Planning for Letlhafula, which starts as early as January, is something of a military exercise. In April, the organising committee starts to work on the logistics and the buying of food starts in May. The actual food preparation starts a week before the festival. Nothing is left to chance with the food hygiene. To avoid any food poisoning resulting from unclean cookware, all the cast-iron pots are cleaned with electric wire brushes until they are squeaky clean.

Of late Botswanacraft has also been hosting music shows and has a contract with Mascom Botswana through which the latter sponsors both local and international acts to play at the centre. Groth says that their entertainment programme is generally driven by artists who want to perform as well as their target market, sponsors and the viability of the events. BoMampudi, a traditional-dance competition, specifically targets people over 18 as it is sponsored by a traditional sorghum beer maker. Earlier this year there was “Scar versus Zeus” lyrical battle featuring said artists that targeted younger adults. The choice of artist comes down to a combination of factors, which include projections that the company makes.

“The costs of hosting and marketing a successful event are quite high, so some successful events may end up subsidising other less successful events,” Groth says.

As to whether he is satisfied with the level of patronage, his response is that art and culture as an industry is still in its infancy in Botswana and thus supported by a shoestring budget.

“In other countries, major corporates and even city councils have large budgets to support art in its various forms. We believe that as the industry develops, more corporates and even city and town councils will appreciate the positive value that art and cultural events can create for society. The Botswana government also has various initiatives to grow the industry throughout the country that are helping immensely. The level of patronage will only increase by word of mouth as more people are exposed to events that they appreciate and want to support,” Groth says.

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