Monday, July 22, 2024

The Arts must be moved to the Office of the President!

It is a well known fact that the arts in Botswana are declining at a fast rate with local artists and arte-facts not appealing to local consumers due to lack of protection and promotion.

Even the ruling party has turned to booking foreign artists like Steve Kekana, Caiphus Semenya, because in all honesty, our artists don’t have the marketing and branding clout that Caiphus and Steve have, as these artists enjoy heavy investment of their govt in the arts through copyright and arts promotion projects/programmes.

In my previous writing I did make mention that the establishment of Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture has killed the arts in a major way and hence the suggestion that probably we move out of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture. It is a well-known fact by now that the Minister and Ministry doesn’t have a single program initiated by the Ministry.

All programs in place have been inherited from Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs and some are Presidential Directives e.g. Heritage and Constituency Competitions, Purchase of Local Artworks by all govt departments.
With all these issues on the table I have always told my counterparts that all the Ministers starting with Hon Moeng Pheto, Hon Gladys Kokorwe and Hon Shaw Kgathi have never had a clear agenda and interest in the arts. There are solid reasons to my observation, The arts, unlike sports and youth, are apolitical; there is no political mileage that one can get out of them except that artist can pull a crowd for a politician at a rally and worse still in Botswana, most artists are blank when it comes to politics unlike their counterparts from Sports and Youth.

The other big hurdle is that local musicians or artists are not fighters that can go all the way to report the Minister or PS at Office of the President if they are aggrieved “Re batho ba re ineelang kapela”. That is why every year when the budget is read in Parliament the Department of Arts and Culture get peanuts. I once said it in a BOMU AGM that as long as we get peanuts as funding we will always deliver monkeys, everyone laughed uncontrollably. Todate BOMU is delivering monkeys and people are blaming it for the poor state of the arts. I always ask myself these people on Masa-a-sele who are bashing B.O.M.U. why don’t they turn the gun and ask the Minister what is he doing and what has he done to make sure artists in Botswana reach their dreams?

BOMU must not be blamed, people must blame the Minister and his Ministry, it has been 9 years of BOMU operating with volunteers writing proposal after proposal on how the industry could be grown and every year the response is the same “gagona madi” but when the Minister speaks on TV are “madi a teng”! One asks himself naare godragala eng? People from sports fraternity always blame me saying that I am divisive and I hate sports and youth sectors. Fact is I don’t. I have once been a registered football player and played with Pontsho, Dirang, Mpho Mabogo while growing up in Ext 2 so there is no way I can hate sports I love football with passion, when it come to youth I can never oppose the development of youth because in my late teens I stayed in Bontleng I know how hard life is for young people, especially from a background like mine.

In a nutshell the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture has failed to provide for us financially by creating a budget that can enable implementation of arts programmes and initiation of new ones, the Ministry has failed to establish the Arts Council, the Ministry has failed to come up with a single programme. People wont believe me when I say that I only knew that our P.S. is Ms Ruth Maphorisa at the Pitso Ya Ngwao, this is because there is no interaction between the Ministry, Minister and arts practitioners.

If you can ask the Minister and PS to give you 20 Arts organization leaders off their cuffs I bet they will give you less than 10 names but ask them to give you 20 sports leaders they will immediately give you 30 names. There is no way we can be in a Ministry where the leadership never makes time to meet us for update meetings, tour our offices and organize retreats with us while they do that all the time with people from Sports and Youth. We only meet the Minister at the Pitso Ya Ngwao which to me it is turning into an annual talk show with no direction and objective as resolutions from the Pitso are normally not implemented or watered down (diluted) and by the next Pitso most of them are irrelevant.

I believe our desire to be removed from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture is justified and leaders of this country will support us as artists because we are suffering no one cares about us most of eat from hand to stomach.

Yours In Music
Seabelo Modibe


Read this week's paper