Say Maun and most journalists would stifle a yawn. Well maybe not a yawn, but few ever mention Maun in the same breath with newsworthy, unless they say “Maun is not newsworthy”.
With no top flight music artists and football teams in the premier league, Maun stadium is usually host to low key and sedate affairs.
Last week, however, Maun was the dateline of hundreds of news dispatches making international headlines in some of the world biggest media titles. The packed-to-the-girders, cacophonously loud Maun Stadium was a hustle and bustle of curious onlookers, musicians and dignitaries. Journalists from all over the world were milling around with huge lenses slung over their shoulders and notepads clasped to their chests. Prince William was in town for a charity event, and the usually sleepy village was in a royal party mode.
The Botswana Tourism Organisation made sure the bash was an event fit for a prince. They brought in international newshounds who joined the Royal correspondents in fussing over every breath the visiting prince made and committing it to print.
To international journalists, when the prince so much as yawns, it is big news. Most crained their necks and strained their ears as Prince William chated with Joe Jonas an Amerian musician who played at the charity event. No sooner had the Prince turned his back on Jonas than international journalist made a bee line for the American musician to find out what he was discussing with the prince.
In response, Joe Jonas explained: “We primarily talked about the event. He thanked me for coming here. He is a great guy and he makes a huge difference to these kids. Children will be able to respect each other through music and football”.
While local journalists turned away dissapointed, international journalists were reaching for their notepads and pens, content with their scoop.
For most Batswana journalists, watching Prince William trying to outperfom a Maun school boy, one Rebaone Badubi in blowing the Vuvuzela was no more interesting that watching paint dry. As it turned out, it was a headline grabbing Kodak moment for the international press. The vuvuzela moment attracted screaming headlines through out the world:
“I can’t blow it… OK, I will give it a go.” “There you go ÔÇô I embarrassed myself again – it’s all good,” says Prince William to the school boy.
About 55 journalists from around the world covered Prince William at the invitation of Botswana Tourism Oganisation, and the men and women tasked with selling Botswana were rubbing their hands gleefully in anticipation of a windfall of international headlines.
The newshounds, who started arriving in the country from June 12, were from top world media houses including Sky News, BBC, NBC TV, Getty Images, HELLO Magazine & ABC News.
These are not your usual tabloid paparadzis who follow the Princes around looking to snap a picture that would drop the jaws of their readership. However, to Maun residents, the huff and puff of journalist stalking the prince could only mean one thing: the paparazzi had come to town. “Did you see those paparazzi”, one man in the stadium asked another one. “They even overshadowed Botswana Television (Btv)”.
Botswana Tourism Organisation says,“this strategic decision to host international journalists will ensure maximum exposure of Botswana Tourism and help position Botswana as a destination of choice in the world of travel, especially with the World FIFA Cup happening in South Africa”.
One of the royal correspondents in the entourage said in the years he has been covering the Royal family, he has never seen media coverage like the one BTO staged since the death of Princess Diana.
This is not the first time that Prince William has come to Botswana, but it is the first joint visit with his brother.
It is believed that the Prince comes to the country, especially the Okavango Delta about four times a year. The laid back picture postcard wilderness gives him peace from the relentless British paparazzi.
There are however fears that although it is good to bring the media entourage on tow, it might in future expose the prince to the world of paparazzis and tabloid media who might hound him.
Botswana Tourism Organisation hopes that with the world focusing on Southern Africa during the FIFA 2010 World Cup, the Prince William Stories may put Botswana on international newsstands.
When South Africa won the rights to stage the soccer showpiece in 2004, Batswana were convinced that the country will benefit from the event.
Six years later, Botswana was not prepared to host any team for a practise match before the kick off.
The only team that the country nearly hosted was Brazil, but were beaten to the game by the unstable Zimbabwe.
Botswana could not pay the $US 2 million that the Brazilians wanted and the state of the local stadia did not help the situation.
The National Stadium in Gaborone was not in a state to host the five times World Cup champions. When everyone thought all was lost, Botswana Tourism Organisation pulled the Prince William bash out of their hat.
“Botswana is guranteed to have a fair share of publicity in the international press during the World Cup”, argues Botswana Tourism Organisation.
Prince William and his brother were in Botswana on a number of public visits in support of the charities and organisations they are aligned to locally.
These visits included Mokolodi Nature Reserve and the Coaching for Conservation football camp in Maun.
The Maun camp, which aimed to celebrate the annual International Day of the African Child, was attended by a number of high profile VIP guests of Tusk Trust, alongside coaches and mentors from the world of international sport.
Prince William is the Patron of the Tusk Trust.
Coaching for Conservation is the primary social development programme of the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, a British trust that has activities across Africa.
Princes Harry and William are sons of Prince Charles and the Late Princess Diana, whom some referred to as the Princess of Wales.
Their mother Diana was killed in a horror car accident in 1997 in France accident when she was in hot pursuit by the paparazzi.
In Maun, Prince William was alone, but was joined by US celebrity Joe Jonas, who was also doing his charity work.
Prince Harry was in Lesotho for charity projects. The two were expected to watch the England’s match against Algeria on Friday, at the Green Point stadium in Cape Town.