The audience at Mantlwaneng Theatre Hall on Friday night was thrilled and left asking for more when four drama groups battled for top honours in this year’s Botswana Training Authority (BOTA) and Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) drama competitions.
The four groups, including the Mahalapye Brigade, Lobatse Brigade, Selebi Phikwe brigade and Maranyane group from Mochudi entertained the audience in this year’s final 2011 competitions staged under the theme “HIV Testing: My Life, My Responsibility: Youth in Action”.
The BOTA Drama competitions are an annual event that brings together young people from all corners of the country to educate each other using Drama Edutainment as a medium to communicate HIV & AIDS messages. The competitions have realized tremendous growth over the years as it started with a few groups in 2003 but now has over 60 groups competing annually.
“The Botswana AIDS Impact Survey (BAIS) III found out that 49 percent of young people between the ages of 16-29 have not yet tested for HIV. It therefore seeks to encourage young people to take personal responsibility and seek to know their HIV status,” said BOTA Chief Executive Officer, Magdeline Motswagole.
“Knowing one status is taking responsibility for one’s life and the lives of their loved ones and I encourage everyone to test for HIV and follow medical advice whatever your HIV status is,” she said. “It is our responsibility to contribute to the goal of an HIV & AIDS free generation.”
She said BOTA believes that drama is a platform that can be used to disseminate information and reinforce strategies for promoting positive behavior change.
“The impact of HIV and AIDS in our society remains a concern, hence the need to continue to fight this scourge until we achieve an HIV free generation,” she said.
Botswana has made great strides in HIV intervention strategies and has gained global recognition for such efforts. Botswana’s Anti-retroviral treatment (ART) ranks as one of the best initiatives in the world, whilst PMTCT program is globally recognized for achieving a 97 percent success rate.
HIV prevention has been the main set-back in Botswana’s quest to achieve lower transmission rates.
“One of the problems has been a general reluctance by Batswana to know their HIV status,” she said.
The Botswana AIDS Impact Survey (BAIS) III study of 2009 reported that 49 percent of Batswana do not know their HIV status.
The competitions, according to the organizers, had no prize money.
The night’s champions, Maranyane group, walked away with a gold medal, trophy and certificate, while the Mahalapye Brigade, which stood in second position, won a silver medal, medal certificate and a trophy.
In third position was the Lobatse Brigade, which walked away with a bronze medal and certificate
The fourth position went to Selebi Phikwe brigade who won a trophy.