Brand Botswana officially came into being back in 2006 but things took a slow turn when the public rejected their logo saying it wasn’t designed with the average Motswana in mind.
This did not dishearten those with the mission to brand Botswana. They picked themselves up, and went back into their caves and worked on a new plan and, four years later, they came back with a bang.
Things went a bit slow for the organization for the first two years after their resurrection but now they find themselves on the mouths of most Batswana.
Many wondered who they are, what their mission is and if they are just another body that’s going to make a lot of noise and promises only to disappoint Batswana by giving up or being controlled by those who already know how to work the system in order to benefit personally.
But so far, Brand Botswana is said to have not disappointed in their mission. Their mission is to sell Botswana to other countries and help this country with a small population make its mark in international markets.
On Thursday, this body, which falls under BEDIA now known as the Botswana Investment Trading Center, held a workshop at Maharaja to try and educate local artists and try to find a way they could work better with them and build a strong and long lasting relationship with the creative souls of this country.
The workshop was brought about as a BOMU initiative.
Conducted by Ludo Mokotedi, the Deputy Director of Brand Botswana, the workshop was thronged by many local artists, amongst them Kabo Lebutu, Kabelo “Scavenger” Tiro, Goitsemodimo “Javas” Binang of Eskimos, Gong Master, Joel Keitumele, commonly known as Ntsoro, Shanti Lo, Maxy, Mapetla, Snyomfere, Fresh Lesokwane and some local promoters like Brazil and Zenzele Hirschfield, amongst others.
It seems a lot of artists came to the workshop with the perception that Brand Botswana was going to bring them a lot of riches with Snyomfere clearly stating that, “When I think of Brand Botswana I imagine a lot of money.”
This perception went on to dominate the discussions of the workshop, with many artists airing their grievances, amongst them that they are forced to live a destitute’s life and resort to other means of making money, like selling chickens, to put food on the table as the music industry does not bring them enough money to live a decent life.
This led to another discussion by local artists who felt like local companies only used a select few artists for their campaigns. And this, the artists reasoned, did not seem fair as they are also brands and forces to be reckoned with. Some of the artists who were used as examples were not present at the workshop but the President of BOMU, Alfred Mosimanegape, brought the room to order by pointing out and reasoning that they could not possibly attack others in their absence.
Things were not only a war of words, the workshop also brought about positive responses from artists as some artists, like the husky voiced Mapetla, pointed out that it was indeed a great idea for Brand Botswana to encourage companies to use artists as ambassadors.
Local promoter, Brazil, however, stood up and raised the points, once again, of how local artists are dying of poverty. He vehemently said that many local artists have left the industry because of lehuma, loosely translated: poverty. His famous phrase was, “They are famous and poor.” Something which concerned him greatly and which he hoped the partnership of Brand Botswana and local artists might help eradicate.
Brand Botswana concluded by saying that they understood the frustrations of local artists but they can only do so much. They said that they do advocate for change where it’s possible but they also pointed out that they do not have the legal power to close down companies that do not comply with them.
The agency plans to take the issues brought up by artists into consideration and work on a way forward. They will continue to hold the workshops with artists till they come to a resolution that will work for all parties.
All artists are invited to these meetings. A lot of the updates of the meetings will be available through BOMU as this is an initiative of BOMU.
Non-BOMU members should not despair as Mokotedi clearly stated that they will find other means of communicating with other artists. However, artists not affiliated with the union are encouraged by those in the industry to join BOMU because a battle is better won with the spirit of togetherness.