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GIMC: The mayhem explained

The much anticipated and extolled Gaborone International Music and Culture (GIMC) week ended on a sad note following a stampede that claimed a life last Saturday night. The unfortunate event has since led to social commentators doubting logistical aspects of the show, accusing the organizers of poor planning and profiteering; STAFF WRITER DAVE BAAITSE explores the misfortune.

Since inception, the GIMC festival has received rave reviews, and was quickly elevated to be among Africa’s Top 10 events to attend in a short time. Arguably this year’s biggest music festival yet, the GIMC 4th edition had lined up crowd pullers in the likes of Mafikizolo, Cassper Nyovest, Ricky Rick and Nollywood star John Okorafor, AKA Mr Ibu.

Only 11 000 tickets were printed

On the day of the event, some were still being sold at the gate, and throngs of people had descended to the city centre, with full hopes of being among the few to dance the night away with fellow night crawlers. What followed next would lead to tragedy-the loss of a young life, 20 year-old Nametso Bogopa who was confirmed to be a third year University of Botswana (UB) student.

When this reporter arrived at the national stadium at exactly 2230 HRS Saturday night, many people were still loitering outside the stadium despite the event continuing inside. Cars were jammed outside, and despite my “All Access” pass, I was denied parking space inside the stadium as police officers said there was no parking. I was forced to navigate the traffic, eventually ending up down the road near the UB main gate.  On making my way into the stadium, what I instantly picked was that the bulk of the youngsters swarming the gates could not be let through because they had no tickets. Thirty minutes later, I managed to make my way through the crowds and into the stadium.       

What transpired during the night?

The over 7 000 revellers waiting outside the stadium had been informed much earlier that evening, at 1930 HRS that the event tickets were sold out. But they disappointedly stuck around, demanding to be let in. Meanwhile, inside the stadium sounds of ‘Khiring Khiring Khorong Khorong’ thumped on, more reason for them to be aggravated and push to be let in.

Hours later, the disappointed fans could still not take ‘NO’ for an answer, they were now more violent, and more security was called in as a risk intervention measure. However, the crowd managed to break one of the gates, flooding in to the stadium and in the event caused the stampede that claimed young Bogopa’s life. Following the crowd having broken in to the stadium, more gates were opened to control the situation and prevent further rowdiness however; this led to difficulty in controlling the crowds inside the stadium as crowd control barricades were also bypassed by the crowds.  

Security question  

The organisers are adamant that the security implored for the night was sufficient for the 11 000 attendants they expected. They concede they could have targeted a larger number and that the 7 000 plus outside the stadium were what threw them off and made the situation difficult to control.

A brief interview with event organizer Fish Pabalinga of LeapFrog Advertising this week revealed that a private security services company was engaged with 300 hundred bouncers and security guards, 12 men mounted on horse backs as well as 10 security dogs that patrolled the area inside and outside until morning. Pabalinga said at the beginning of the festival about 50 police officers were controlling the situation and that during the night more police officers were called in to assist.

Emergency assist   

The question of health is a very critical one thus every year the event organisers make sure they provide emergency assist to take care of every health situation that may arise. A total of two ambulances were seen packed at the VIP area with a number of medics who were on call. “This clearly means safety measures are always in place; the stampede and loss of life was an unfortunate incident,” said Pabalinga.

The national stadium has a carrying capacity of approximately 22 thousand, this is for when people are seated at the stands. With close to 18 thousand people occupying the pitch area and only a few on the stands, the place was overcrowded. “In that case even if we have had excess security, they were still bound to fail because of the numbers. The behaviour was unbecoming and that was never our plan. They invaded the stadium and in the process hurt themselves,” said Pabalinga who could not discuss further the ordeal as he said he was still emotionally struck by the occurrence.  

Besides the stampede, a number of criminal activities were also reported where people were pick-pocketed and others beaten for no apparent reason, something Pabalinga highly condemned. He has called for the perpetrators to be brought to book and called on the perpetrators to be called to book. He promises that they have learnt from the unfortunate events at this year’s GIMC and will use the lesson to stage an even better event next year.

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WeekendLife

LERAPO: Becoming a radio host and property analyst

12th January 2021
Thabiso Tshwenyana

Thabiso Tshwenyana is certainly a bright spark. He has been hitting the books, at the same time pushing hustle on radio! Well, you may not know who I’m talking about right now unless I refer to him as ‘Lerapo’, or ‘Bundle of Joy ya Radio’, as he is commonly called by his aficionados on radio.

Lerapo is resolute on taking over the entertainment and broadcasting space, of course wearing many hats as a radio host, content producer and a socialite. Not only that, he is a fresh Real Estate graduate currently functioning as a property analyst.

One may wonder how this young lad (currently 23-years-old) managed to be on radio, at the same time pursuing his Degree in Real Estate. Well, he says it took grit, time management and really doing what one likes. And he is right, because in today’s world anyone can call themselves a presenter. But it takes unparalleled skill, unbreakable determination, and heaps of talent to captivate an audience of millions.

Whether or not you think he’s the best, there’s no arguing that Lerapo is possibly the most prominent young radio presenter to hail from the Botswana. Initially starting his career in 2017, Lerapo earned himself a reputation as ‘Bundle of Joy ya Radio’ by consistently pushing the boundaries of what could be said and done.

His shows consists of outrageous humor and youthful content that’s shocking the radio establishment, and taking young people to cloud 9. The show is called The Youth Café on Duma FM, and airs every Saturday between 2PM and 2PM, broadcasting in vernacular.

When sharing with Weekendlife his startling life on radio and how he will be turning it down this year, he says the journey started back in 2017 at RB2 where he hosted a 30-minute feature. “I am definitely a go-getter. I love radio and this has been my childhood dream! I held onto this dream and survived against all odds. I am happy to be on radio because after all the knockings, snubs and distressing coercions, I persisted nonetheless. Sometimes it was just a matter of being at the right place at the right time.”

Before joining Duma FM in 2019, he was a content producer at yet another youthful urban radio station Yarona FM. At the age of 23-years old, Lerapo has worked at three radio stations, both government and private urban stations. Remarkable! For someone aspiring to be on radio, I can confidently say he is the pluq for inspiration and familiarity.

He continued to dish more on what radio really needs, saying “Taking time to perfect the craft, being open to learn from others and just digging down on books and the internet on how radio works did magic to me. It became easier to comprehend fully what I needed and how to go about getting it.”

Being a radio presenter means having a whole team prior to going on air. This means having a show prep, and reflecting on how the show went down with your producers or programs manager. Programs manager handles the business of the radio station and leave the voice and personality to the presenter.

Presenters have to follow rules of the programs manager even if they may not see eye-to-eye. They may prefer to play safe and repeat music even though sometimes a presenter prefers to take a risk and make changes to the music. Nevertheless, the success of the radio station lies in programs manager’s hands.

“After a show I usually have a reflection on how it went then I plan for the next show. On Tuesdays I have what we call an ‘air check’ with either the programs manager or his assistant to identify hiccups on the previous show and see how best to work on them to have a great delivery on the next show. Since I produce my own show, I give them a preliminary show prep. Once approved, I start contacting guests to be featured on the show and later share the final show prep a day before the show airs with the bosses.”

Still on his show, he does live reads. These are paid adverts that he discusses with the marketing department prior to his show going live. Well, as for a sizzling playlist, the music compiler knows how to serve him right.

He says a great radio hosts listens, reads and makes a show about the listener. ‘A common mistake we make as radio hosts is that we make the show about us and tend to feel that we know more than the listener. We also ought to respect the listener, these are our clients after all. Radio hosts should also refrain from relying on social media for content, most of it is fake and unverified by relevant authorities.”

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WeekendLife

MASK UP: COVID-19 infections in Africa drastically snowballing

12th January 2021
Masks up

December 2019 was the time a case of the contagious Corona-virus was first identified in Wuhan, China. The world has never been the same again, as the deadly virus swept across countries and killed many people.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are variable, but often include fever, cough, fatigue,  breathing difficulties, and loss of smell and   taste. African countries felt the heat too, as the first case reached the continent through travelers returning from hotspots in Asia, Europe and the United States. The first COVID-19 case was recorded in Egypt on 14 February. Since then a total of 52 countries have reported cases.

Most African countries took swift action early on, and it is largely thanks to these efforts to limit gatherings and strengthen public health capacities. Governments introduced back-to-back lockdowns, curfews and the compulsory wearing of masks in public places.

Some countries suspended forthwith cross-border trading, save for commercial and transit cargo related to essential and critical services. Air transportation, tourism and social events were at one point shelved to mitigate the spread of this virus. For many countries, this mechanism helped reduce infections, however, numbers don’t lie. COVID-19 in Africa has since taken a drastic turn, with numbers now surging at an alarming rate.

The neighboring South Africa has from the onset, been the only country in Africa with the highest number of COVID-19 cases. As of Monday January 4th 2021, there were over 1 Million (1 113 349) infections after the country recorded 12 601 new cases post festive season.

The number of Corona-virus deaths in South Africa has now surpassed the 30 000 mark, the highest in the entire continent. Gauteng province continue to record most cases of the COVID-19, now leading with over 301 thousand cases.

Reports from South Africa say mortuaries have ran out of space as COVID-19 bodies’ pile up. Funeral parlor owners say they are under immense pressure and are battling to cope with the high number of burials they have to perform due to deaths from the contagious Corona-virus.

The country is currently under level 3 lockdown. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced during an address that there will be a nationwide curfew from 9PM to 6AM, subsequently banning the sale of alcohol from retail outlets and the on-site consumption.

In Botswana, President Mokgweetsi Masisi extended a curfew until January 31st 2021. In his address to the nation this week, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Edwin Dikoloti said there shall be no movement of people between 8PM and 4AM until month end while the Presidential COVID-19 Task Force team continue to assess the complexity of the virus.

Botswana currently have over 13 thousand (13 613) confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus, with a significant number of recoveries that stood at over 12 thousand (12 481), as of Monday this week. The Corona-virus claimed over 45 Batswana lives. There were 563 new cases confirmed on Monday.

According to COVID-19 Case Report, there are 553 859 total tests conducted, 407 055 of which were local tests, while 1827 were transferred out. Zimbabwe has 15,829 confirmed Corona-virus cases and 384 deaths as of January 5, 2021. In response to increased COVID infections, the government instituted a new nationwide lockdown on January 5. Curfew is in effect from 6PM to 6AM. International air travel is still permitted, subject to testing requirements, while international land travel and inter-provincial/inter-city travel are largely prohibited.

As of December 1, the government of Zimbabwe requires all new arrivals to the country to present a negative COVID-19 test result issued within the previous 48 hours. The government provides no option for testing upon arrival for such travelers.

In the Eastern Mediterranean Region, COVID-19 has found its adventure playground. Tunisia and Egypt are two countries with most cases and deaths recorded, with 139 140 and 138 062 cases. From both countries combined, there are over 10 thousand deaths related to COVID-19.

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WeekendLife

My Star’s shine hazy without sponsors

28th December 2020
Master Dee

My Star Botswana has consistently been keeping people glued to their screens every Sunday evening to watch their favourites battle it out for the cash price. This has been the case since the show started back in 2007.

The winners of the controversial competition are usually taken to the United Kingdom for sightseeing and benchmarking.

The whole purpose of My Star was to unearth raw talents and flair from the grass-roots. The show Producer and Director, Keabetswe ‘Master Dee’ Sesinyi, together with his team would scout talent from across the country, including rural areas.

Well, things took turns and twists this time around, as the show failed to attract the much desired attention. Many loyal viewers were not aware that the show had started and to my surprise, the grand finale was way too shallow for a show of its magnitude. Even the show producer didn’t like the turn out. My Star 2020 totally lost touch.

Master Dee made no bones about lack of sponsorship harming the plan to throw an over-the-top grand finale. He says despite him being on his feet every time trying to source sponsors, he ran around in circles and was left out in the cold many a-times. One may wonder how tables turned so drastically.

This is extremely unscrupulous for a protuberant talent show. My Star was considered an A-list show, but more than ten years now and the show is still held at Gaborone Technical College hall, it’s scandalous that the venue cannot be upgraded to match the talent and prestige they are looking for.

“I thank you so supporting the arts. I know everyone came here with a goal to see his or her contestant win. Today we doing things in a different way. It won’t be the usual My Star show that we know because of the COVID-19. The arts have been the hardest hit by this pandemic. The fact remains arts are the foundation of all jobs,” said Master Dee.

He hit the nail on the head. This sector has seen dust this pandemic year. It was the first to be shut, and to date, it has been opened in a phased manner. Well, for social events that mount up larger crowds, the story has not changed. This is because the virus spreads easily when many people get together without health protocols being adhered to.

Master Dee, however, expressed discontentment at how My Star ran without a single sponsor. “I personally know what it is to be artistic, and I understand the passion that each contestant has. But do people understand this passion like we do? It is very sad that we are here to see the reality TV show that comes on the national TV channel every Sunday without the main sponsor. Very sad!”

He gave the small team he was working with a pat on the back for helping him see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“These guys make me see the need to try further. When push comes to shove, they assure me that someone will realize the potential of this project. Through this COVID-19, we have sent more than 28 Batswana youth to Universities. And who doesn’t see that>? What is it going to take for people to understand that this project is not about me, and that it is for Batswana?”

“Sometimes when I speak like this I feel like I could shed a tear. But it is painful sometimes when people don’t see what you see. When I go around looking for sponsors, they say I want to enrich myself. I mean who doesn’t want to be rich? It’s just a fuss,” he said.

Nonetheless, Master Dee showed gratitude to the Youth Ministry for making it possible for young people to be admitted at the Universities. I believe education is key, so I had to fight to see them being admitted in educational institutions, he told few guests at the grand finale.

“I will be naïve if I cannot actually echo the sentiments of government assisting in this manner going forward. But enough can be done. We need corporate companies’ to stand up and not just take from us.”

Meanwhile, Neelo Gopolang was crowned the winner of My Star Season 14. She walked away with P100 000 after garnering herself over 70 000 votes from the general public. First runner up, and people’s favourite Queen Garekwe managed to secure only 2000 plus votes, earning P10 000 from the competition. Justice Nyathi was announced as the second runner up, going home with P10 000 as well.

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