Politicians have praised organizers of the opening ceremony of the Africa Youth Games (AYG) for a job well done after they staged a spectacular event on Thursday. Veteran Member of Parliament Daniel Kwelagobe said he was especially impressed with the fireworks display. While he admitted that the opening ceremony was nowhere near the ones staged by first world countries like China, Russia and Japan, Kwelagobe commended the organizers for a job well done and said the country got value for money for its expenditure on the ceremony.
In a previous parliamentary sitting, MP’s expressed misgivings about Botswana’s preparedness to host the AYG. They asked if Botswana had enough capital and infrastructural resources to host the games of such magnitude and lambasted the organizing committee for its secretiveness. MP’s also expressed concern that Botswana would not be able to host such a high profile event in the face of frequent power outages.
“We will only embarrass ourselves in front of the international community,” they said.
Shortages of water, especially in Gaborone and surrounding areas, were also cited as the more reason why Botswana was not ready to host the AYG. Despite the barrage of criticism, the organizers, led by then Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Shaw Kgathi, remained resolute that Botswana would host bigger and better AYG.
“We will do whatever is within our means to make the event a success,” said Kgathi at the time.
Uproar broke out when the organizers announced that a South Africa company had been given a tender to coordinate the opening ceremony. Many accused the organizers of exporting money from Botswana and denying local companies a chance to benefit from the games. The day of reckoning finally came on Thursday. After the opening ceremony, all the nay-sayers backtracked and gave the organizers a standing ovation. Kanye South MP Kentse Rammidi also said the official opening was awesome. He however said the only eye sore was the conspicuous absence of Gaborone Mayor Haskins Nkaigwa.
Rammidi said it is international practice for the Mayor, as the first citizen of Gaborone, to officiate at such an event. While he gave the organizing committee a pat on the back for a job well done, Rammidi rapped them over the knuckles for sidelining the Mayor.
“They did a marvelous job, but they should not have sidelined the Mayor,” he said.
President Ian Khama officially opened the games in front of a capacity crowd of over 20, 000 people at the national stadium. Olympic silver medalist Nigel Amos burnt the torch while Batswana welcomed the teams with song and dance as they paraded around the stadium. Overhead, Botswana Defense Force (BDF) helicopters flew the national and the Gaborone 2014 flag high. The event was broadcast live by national broadcaster Botswana television and Supersport.