It was meant to be an Easter holiday of utmost fun of appreciating Tswana and international cultures found in Botswana yet it was not known to Batswana.
The Hills Of Music was held this Easter holidays on top of the Diphiring hills near Rasesa and the turn out of the audience was extremely disappointing.
Director of Arts and Culture, Dineo Phuti, bothered by the low audience’s low attendance, said it was the first of its kind and may be the reason why people did not turn up in large numbers.
“Rome was not built in one day,” she said, praising the organizing team for their efforts and for taking chances.
Phuti gave the example of the Bakgatla, saying they should have crowded the place since the festival is in their territory but such did not happen. She further encouraged people to spread the word and share with their friends and family the fun they had during the festival.
Phuti said that, in the midst of everything, the Hills of Music initiative fulfilled the mandate of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture in terms of development, which is to preserve, develop and promote arts and culture in Botswana.
Master of Ceremonies, Joel Keitumele, also encouraged people to invite more people and share with them their experiences to create a better audience in the coming years. He said he was so proud to be one of the very first people to be part of the Hills of Music Festival but it is an initiative that just has to be shared with all Batswana since it encouraged more of the local culture than any other.
People spoken to said they believed the idea was great but made too big for the first time.
“The mind was set in the right place but it could have been made big after Batswana fully understood what the festival is all about,” commented Kevin Mookane who was part of the audience. “I noticed that most of the people here are participants.”
He said that he did not really get what he expected, saying he thought he would find different cultures bringing forth more than just the songs they performed.
“I was hoping to see the Asian cuisine and maybe get a chance to ask about the crazy dishes we see on TV but we didn’t see much of anything we don’t already know.”
Another attendee, Thato Seane, said that the crazy weather over the holidays could only be part of the reasons why people did not turn up but when people know how fun the festival can get, crazy weathers will not stand in their way of enjoying themselves.
She expressed her disappointment, saying she had high hopes of learning so much from international culture but found that only international artists were called.
“It would have been nice to own a Japanese or Congolese garment since it is not something one can find here,” she said. She continued saying that in the next editions of the festival, they wish to see diverse cuisine and clothing because local cuisine and clothing only impress those that, like the foreign guests, rarely see them. She urged the organisers to bring in more of the international stuff that we don’t know or hardly see here in Botswana, so that we can appreciate more than just the music.
In her closing remarks, Specially Elected parliamentarian, Dr Gloria Somolekae, praised the organisers of the festival, led by lawyer Unity Dow and her team for their efforts and not letting negative attitude and fear stand in their way.
She said winners go for what they want to achieve knowing full well that the worst that can happen is that some learning will occur.
“These rare qualities are what differentiate winners from the rest of us.”
International performers seen at the festival included the Japanese, with their original cultural pieces, and the Basotho Mehale ya Basha group from Lesotho, who also impressed with their traditional dance, and who also enjoyed the traditional beer available at the festival.