Avid Bible readers may recall a passage in the Scriptures in which Jesus Christ said a prophet is without honour in his hometown. This seems to be the case with music artists from Botswana who have been loathed on numerous occasions locally.
This seems to resonate well with Odirile Rammoni, a Folklore artist, who has been selected for ‘Honorary Cultural Ambassador of Australia’. This title empowers him to scout African groups that can perform in the Australian Multicultural Festival the country hosts annually.
“It is known here in Botswana. The embassy office in Australia has announced it. If it was in other countries I could be entitled to a Diplomatic passport. I could even be given the privilege to meet with the head of state. He could be made aware of the impact youth efforts can bring into the country through arts. This is a diplomatic assignment capable of building economic friendships. I have been tasked with identifying groups in Africa and i will start with Botswana groups,” he said in an interview.
He said it is important to introduce more Botswana groups in Australia because they are generally unknown to Australians. Rammoni said his group, the Ngwao Letshwao have gone a long way in promoting Botswana culture through music. Their voluntary performances some years back in Europe, especially Australia resulted in them being identified by Cultural music promoters.
Rammoni emphasised the fact that as cultural artists they are selling Botswana through music performances. He urged institutions in Botswana which promote tourism to be supportive of their endeavours. He said, “Our economy is reliant upon minerals, especially diamonds, whose sales have gone down as compared to the past. Tourism sector should take a pivotal role to promote performance arts.”
He applauded President Khama for the programs he introduced which have contributed greatly to his group’s success. While he appreciates the effort from the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture, he says more still needs to be done in terms of introducing more incentives.
He cited the example of Honorary Cultural Ambassadors in Australia whom he says have better incentives because governments and private sectors in their countries appreciate the role played by arts.
Rammoni is currently compiling a report which he plans to distribute to parastatals involved in tourism and economic diversification.
Part of the report states, “The European tour created another niche that we were not aware of: improving Botswana’s status with UNESCO through the appointment of a Motswana cultural attach├® on a permanent basis to recover lost opportunities exploited by other neighbouring countries with permanent UNESCO portfolios. This serves as an eye opener of our ineptitude. We therefore need a delegation in UNESCO Headquarters to follow up with the development of Arts & Culture as our counterparts. Another interesting development involved the possibility of having a International Council of Organisation of Folklore Festival (CIOFF) section in Botswana.”
It further points out that since inception in 1970, CIOFF has been diffusing traditional cultures through promoting intangible heritage through forms of expression like dance, music, games, rituals, customs and other Arts; encourage youths to exchange regional activities in schools, retirement houses and public places.
“I shall be attending a CIOFF cultural meeting in Cameron later this month, and I am encouraging other officials to attend as well,” he concluded.