From the Jazz concert at Stanbic Piazza to the music festival at the National Stadium seven days later, Lifestyle’s THOBO MOTLHOKA hooks up with Thapelo Pabalinga to discuss all things GIMC
After pulling off the third instalment of the six-stage Gaborone International Music and Culture week (GIMC) and registering a record attendance, organiser Thapelo Pabalinga may safely call it “one of the biggest festivals in Africa”.
He may not be smiling all the way to the bank yet but Pabalinga remains optimistic about the prospects of the week-long extravaganza.
Having counted losses with the previous two shows, he has yet to find out if the third will be a box office success. “We are still tying up some loose ends and paying the bills so it is difficult to tell if we have made any monetary gains yet,” Pabalinga tells Lifestyle. He insists, however, that his main focus at the moment is on growing the festival. “GIMC has without doubt reaffirmed itself as one of the biggest performing arts festivals in the continent. It is no longer just about Botswana,” he says.
He says they want to rope in the corporate world and build up partnerships. “Who wouldn’t want to be associated with such a big event,” he says. With six stages at six different venues across the city, Pabalinga says the aim is to spread the business so everyone gets a share of the pie. “The whole city should feel it. The greater economy of the city should benefit, from the big businesses to Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs).”
He says spreading GIMC is also an opportunity to demonstrate the capacity of Gaborone to host multiple concurrent events. With everyone talking about the 13 000-plus crowd that attended the final music festival at the National Stadium on September 3. Pabalinga is more impressed with the overall attendance for all the six events. He says: “We sold at least 80 percent of tickets for every event and that says a lot not just about where we come from but where we are going as well.” With rich line-ups dominated by local artists Pabalinga says they are very particular about who makes GIMC. “We want artists that are influencers,” he says, “artists that take themselves and their profession seriously. Through our selection we try to preach excellence.”
After hosting one of the biggest jazz greats, Jonathan Butler, this year, Pabalinga looks to maintain the standard with the next event. He is already in talks with American legends George Benson and Dave Koz. “I can almost confirm the two will land on our shores come GIMC 2017.”
The GIMC organiser can also brag about having Butler as the festival’s ambassador. “Butler was so happy when he left that he has volunteered to be our ambassador in the US.” US Black Entertainment Television (BET) were also present to record the Saturday festival. DStv having been the only company with its own marquee at the National Stadium, Pabalinga says he wants to grow the culture of corporate marquees at music events. “Festivals can only grow when corporate companies feel comfortable enough to not only be partners but to host their staff and clientele as well.” Undoubtedly the biggest festival of its kind here in Botswana, GIMC has for the past couple of years provided some fantastic, diverse performances on different stages. Their concept of “something for everybody” has proven popular with entertainment lovers living in and outside Gaborone. From the jazz orientated to choral, to comedy, poetry, theatre, dance music and Hip Hop lovers, they have it all.