Name one sporting event in Botswana that could pull a huge crowd more than the Desert race, don’t worry, I will wait.
Although this year’s winner didn’t present any surprise, as he has bagged two similar titles over the previous yearly events, the Toyota 1000 Desert Race this year appeared to have attracted a much larger crowd than the previous ones.
And, of course, the Navara won the Toyota sponsored desert Race for the 8th time.
It has become what some might call the biggest sporting event of the year. This year’s desert race, or Mantshwabisi, as the locals like to refer to it, brought about locals and attracted foreign participants as well.
Business for those around Game City shopping malls boomed during that weekend.
O Hagan’s, a local pub based at Game City, didn’t miss a chance to cash in on the event and organised what they termed a pre-launch for the desert race on the Friday before the race.
Julian Sennanyana, an employee at O’Hagans, said that it is a well-known tradition for them to sponsor the desert race’s preÔÇôlaunch as they had been doing for years.
“This year was slightly different though as we had a bit of a miscommunication with the event organizers, so the actual planning of the launch didn’t go as smoothly as it did in the past,” said Sennanyana.
O Hagan’s had put up a white tent donated by KBL besides the pub where only Botswana brewed KBL beverages were being promoted.
A local Jazz band was also invited to entertain the crowd.
Meanwhile, inside the pub, a Klipdrift competition was being run in which participants won different sets of merchandise, like t-shirts, caps etc.
According to Sennanyana, they put extra effort to make sure their local and foreign customers were entertained accordingly and were able to interact whilst awaiting the start of the races.
Despite the enthusiasm, Sennanyana was adamant that the recent constructions that Game City was undergoing were impacting heavily on the business’s ability to attract foreigners who knew nothing about the pub or where it was located.
“Obviously, the constructions are heavily impacting on our business as you can see there is less parking spots for both local and foreign customers,” said Sennanyana.
He said that he had noticed that foreigners have a strong bias towards safety and security for their vehicles and always want to park their cars within their view, thus the constructions were acting as obstructions to the parked cars.
Those who went camping, however, had only one complaint that no mobile toilets were provided as had been done last year in Hatsalatladi.