Monday, July 4, 2022

Malombo’s passing a great opportunity to introspect!

The passing of Malombo has actually brought the music industry into the forefront of national debates about the social welfare of musicians.

Questions are being asked about the music industry’s reward and appreciation chain system in Botswana. The passing of Malombo has shown that govt does not care about musicians.
For the BDF to cold heartedly refuse with the auditorium to host his memorial service shows what type of organization the B.D.F. is.

Malombo’s passing has created an opportunity for all the players in the music industry to reflect. During the build up to the funeral musicians, promoters, producers met and informally discussed various industry matters. It is very important we take a step forward. Musicians must understand that if they don’t voice their concerns and issues affecting them no one is going to do that for them.

The passing of Malombo has actually shown us that despite being a great musician and serving your country diligently and with great honor, in Botswana you are nothing in death.

Despite being a national hero Malombo got snubbed by those who were supposed to recognize the good he has done for them and the country; the BDF where he spent probably half of his life. If you don’t win a medal at the Olympics or IAAF you are nothing in Botswana.

Malombo recorded the current national song that is currently playing in all national events including when the athletes who are now big heroes participate in National and international events.

For the BDF to have snubbed him has left all of us heartbroken and asked ourselves gore lefufa ke la eng? The Commander must demote someone by Friday! Because the officer who rejected the request to use the BDF Auditorium has dented the name and goodwill of the BDF. I don’t think musicians will in future want to join the BDF like in previous years or even recommend their kids to join the army.

As the music industry we must come together and draft a paper, which we could present to the President of Republic of Botswana. The paper should be well researched and with facts. We should leave petty issues aside and act with patriotism to save the industry. The paper should touch all aspects of the industry, its history, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The paper should also show both the positive that government has done and the impediments. The paper should also map the way forward for the industry and strategies moving forward.

The paper should address issues like infrastructure development and how the music industry could contribute in economic diversification, how many people the music industry currently employs fulltime and part time, the paper should show how the music industry could help in alleviating poverty, the paper should also show the downstream benefits of the music industry in other economic sectors and industries.

In Botswana the music industry employs well over 30 000 people. It’s a fact. Take people at the BTV, RB1 and 2, Etv, Private Radio Stations, Musicians Across the country, Recording studios, Promoters, Advertising Agencies/Event Management Companies, Producers, PA System Hire companies, DJ’s, Night Club Employees e.t.c. The music industry propels the mobile business through ringtones, which without a ringtone in a phone there will be no phone call and actually without cellphone calls that will mean the business sector will die. Hence all industries need musicians to continue producing music so that phones can ring.

The music industry needs to learn that having so many organizations won’t help in anyway but only fragment the industry further which may lead to continuos stunted growth. We need to come together and explore if we need to have Folk music association, BOMU, Ngwao Loshalaba, Chorale Association and promoters Association all operating as standalone organizations. There is a serious need for one body called the Creative Workers Union of Botswana. This will house all arts organizations from Film, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts e.t.c. as affiliates. Each affiliate will have a seat in the board/executive committee. As artists we need to pitch one big tent so that we can address our issues as one.

The Creative Workers Union of Botswana must also be open to Artists who are in full time employment to protect their composer/moral rights while in employment so as to avoid a situation where employers earn fat salaries at the expense of artists. Case in point Sam Nzima VS The Star Newspaper in which he contested that when he was employed by the Star Newspaper all the photos he took belonged to him but The Star wanted to claim all of the photos. Sam Nzima ended up winning the case.

Once we have an organization like this, govt and private sector will now have it difficult in dividing us. We will have one monster organization that will form companies trading in Music Publishing, Content Aggregation, Export, Marketing and Exhibition of local Artifacts, Craft and music locally and internationally. The profits that these companies make will be used to create education grants, social welfare funds, workshops and training and also develop poverty alleviation projects for musicians and other disadvantaged citizens.

The music industry must chat itself out of the current mess, there is a need for three laws/Acts/Policies or strategies that we must advocate for being the Botswana national Arts Council Act, Entertainment/Performing Arts Act/Policy and the Cultural, Performing and Visual Arts Growth Strategy. All this should include involvement of both govt, private and civil organizations not leaving out Dikgosi as they play a pivotal role on cultural issues.

Yours In Music

Seabelo Modibe
Music Industry Activist


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