The upcoming Gaborone International Music and Culture (GIMC) week promises to take Gaborone back to the entertainment hub it once was, albeit temporarily. It will be a week of pure artistic brilliance.
Thapelo Pabalinga through his company, Leapfrog, will host the first annual GIMC week scheduled for the last five days of August.
But to call it a ‘music and cultural’ event may be an understatement. It is a smorgasbord of entertainment activities that include Poetry, choral music, comedy, festival, culminating in a jazz concert.
With a track record that spans over a decade, Pabalinga is no stranger to the entertainment business. In fact he is almost peerless.
“My interest in show business developed when I was at the University of Botswana (UB),” he tells Lifestyle. “We organised activities that were aimed at tackling social issues afflicting young people like juvenile delinquency, HIV/AIDS, and alcohol abuse.”
He recalls South Africa’s legend of the airwaves Bob Mabena, Dj Fresh, and Skizo as some of the entertainers they engaged while at UB. Upon completing his studies Pabalinga says he opened Leapfrog initially as a ‘website design and publications’ company.
“We later incorporated events management, advertising and communications, and public relations,” he says.
Besides Leapfrog, Pabalinga also operated a night club/restaurant, Q Bar, in Phakalane. The club hosted some of the who’s who of international Deejaying, including Germany’s Ralph Gum, South Africa’s Culoe De Song,Dj Fresh, Black Coffee etc.
“I had to sell the club and move onto other things,” Pabalinga says, adding, “I have been in this business long enough to know what I’m doing.”
He boasts of being the first promoter to bring to Gaborone Nigeria’s Flava, and SA’s Trevor Noah.
“I have had the opportunity to host US artists such Lil Wayne, Drake and Chris Brown but I let them pass because of our small market,” he says.
Pabalinga accuses major international brands operating in Botswana of not doing enough to support the entertainment industry. He says because of the lack of support, local promoters end up trying to cut corners by compromising on quality in order to reduce costs.
He expressed gratitude towards Botswana Tourism and other institutions for getting on board and supporting the GIMC.
Unlike most local music events that give international artists prominence over local acts, Pabalinga says he has turned the tables.
“It is the local artists who will be headlining the events,” he says.
The assumption that there is an international standard by international artists which local artists should aspire to ,Pabalinga says, is what puts local musicians at an unfair disadvantage.
By featuring such a cocktail of genres, Pabalinga says he hopes to cater for the public’s diversity in taste.
Just as beauty is said to be in the eye, he believes music is in the ear of the beholder.
“What you like is not necessarily what the other person likes,” he explains, saying, “As much as music is a universal language it is spoken in different dialects appealing to different palates.”
He says preparations for the events have been completed. “Security of patrons will be of utmost importance and over 300 of security personnel have been hired to maintain peace and order.”
Because of the line-up, the festival to be held at the National Stadium on Saturday, August 30, is expected to be the biggest crowd puller. It will feature, among others Vee, Zeus, Zahara, Ntando, Donald and other local and South African acts.
Poetry Night will open the week’s activities on Wednesday August 27, followed by Choral the next day, Comedy on Friday and Jazz on August 31. Tickets are being sold at Botswana Craft, Liquorama, Webtickets and Leapfrog.