The annual Maun Arts festival, which is in its fifth year running kicked off over the weekend with a bang. The first batch of local and international participants arrived in Maun on Friday. They were treated to bonfires at the Thamalakane river bank where they stay in a tented camp.
In his briefing to the media, the festival chairperson Legodile Seganabeng said they are no longer seen as amateurs as they have evidently grown in leaps and bounds. He was however quick to point out that the organising team is under immense pressure to perfect the festival, considering the increased line up of artists and days. In 2011, he said the festival lasted for a mere two days and was focused on poetry alone. They decided to broaden it after realisation that there was need for growth and that poetry alone was not enough to satisfy the needs of followers.
“We went all out to benchmark in Zimbabwe since we wanted to expand to match the Harare International festival of the arts as they have been around for quite a long time. We learnt that Zimbabweans are wiser and have more experience, so we find ourselves wanting to travel the world to learn from more countries as well,” he said.
Seganabeng stated that their main sponsor since inception has always been the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture, adding that the fact the ministry continues to sponsor them is enough proof that they see potential in them. Other big sponsors are the US embassy, European Union, and Gabz FM as the official broadcaster. They are also in good partnership with Okavango artists, Love Botswana Outreach Mission and Sefalana, just to mention but a few. In 2013, he said MYSC sponsored them to the tune of P150 000, which increased to P250 000 in 2014. This year, the sponsorship increased to P350 000. He noted that other sponsors also came on board bringing the total budget to P600 000, and that although the funds are relatively low, they are highly appreciated taking into consideration that a nine day event like this year’s would need close to P1.5 million to get going.
He indicated however that sponsors have their own challenges, hence their low turn up. To maintain quality, he mentioned that they had to scale down so as to fit what they have. The live music line up will include among others Sereetsi and the Natives, Kabo Leburu, The Contrabanditz band, One Finite Monkey from USA, Leshie Lovesong, Vera and Stiger Sola. On the comedy side there will be Ribcracker, Pule from South Africa, Brooks, Mawee and Stoki. The contemporary poetry section will include, poet Phopho Ponchi, Basadi Mosetlhi, Queen Abraconscience (SA),Christopher Durand (Re-Union Islands), Rashida Namulondo(Ghana),Dash Kelly (USA), Hector Kunene (SA),Linda Nabasa (Uganda), and the list is endless. When the festival ends on Sunday, Seganabeng said there will be a creative church service at the Village church where participants will attend a church service to display creative performances.