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The Loud Silence of Botswana’s Resorts: When Spring Fails to Trigger Wonder and Adventure

Resorts

The mighty Chobe River’s thunderous roar has been silenced. The boats that once sailed free upon the waterway are now bound by the docks. The glistening water which reflects the golden sunset at evening has dimmed.

The midnight laughter and crackling of the fire by visitors from wide and far, natives exchanging experiences and discovering the land together has hushed. The residents of the green, lush wilderness; the great Tlou, the king Tau and the mischievous Phiri have remained in awe of the silence in the wild.

Our gateway to the wilderness experience, Botswana’s resort hotels, that were once filled with jubilation and high spirits with endless people flocking to see what Botswana had to offer are now muted with only the echoes and ghosts of where life used to be. How long will these hallucinations persist? How long until the hotel rooms, swimming pools and dining halls are filled with life?

Amidst the mental breakdown triggered by the loss of loved ones – colleagues, friends and family, the real pain of our reality is juxtaposed with the harsh economic reality of our times. The hotel industry and many others are on their knees. With every door closed, a window to Mother Nature is closed for our people, an opportunity to get away from it all.

The spirited wonder of being away where the crisp natural air is unlike anything from big cities and towns. It is rejuvenation at its best. Is there an easy answer to what bedevils our socio-economic fabric? Is the debate between public health and the economic sustainability of our people an easy one? Where do we go from here?

The beauty of the getaway is a distant memory. The economic muscle of foreign currency which kept the hotel industry booming and national coffers healthy, is a reminder that we once had it all. The breathtaking hotel rooms from world-class hotel chains such Cresta, which are a home away from home trigger sweetness of freedom and the warmth of loved ones.

The nights by the balcony are silent and yet the magnificent sounds of the wild linger on. The rhythm of the crickets meeting the buzzes of the light bugs, howls and rustles – there is nothing quite like experiencing tourism from the front-row seat that is Cresta Hotels.

When will we travel again? To see the countless stars that grace the sky and hear the thousand sounds in the wild. When will Botswana’s resorts return to normalcy and provide for their families? When will the jungle laughter from visitors echo across the trees and shrubs? There are no easy answers. But the beauty of the wild beckons for the good of our people for the good of our nation and for the good of our economic viability.

Vaccinations trickling in give a glimmer of hope. The government has announced dates of major deliveries in the coming weeks and months. The actions and sense of urgency on Covid-19 by the authorities is a reminder that indeed we are all pulling together to find our way back. The current images of European stadia of soccer fans mask-less and hugging beaming around the world is a reminder that even from the darkest clouds there a silver lining. In the not so distant future we shall return. Cresta and other hotels will have their moment in the sun.

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WeekendLife

5 consideration for your Marketing strategy in 2022

12th January 2022

‘The world of marketing is getting confusing,’ this is the sentiment from many marketers who find themselves in the middle of rising digitization and online migration driven by increased connectivity and a pandemic that dictated reduced physical interactions.

According to the Harvard Business Review, customers’ increased discernment, demand for great service experience and the ability to raise ‘a storm’ of complaints online about brands, is reshaping the role of marketing.

In today’s world of brand management, the constant consideration should be agility. This means actually listening to customer sentiment, being flexible with your creative design, messaging, placements and budgets.

Here are a few more pointers to discuss in your 2022 marketing strategy sessions.

  1. Budgeting needs to change: Event based budgeting, allocations based on calendar activities rather strategic impact initiatives, is a thing of the past. If the pandemic taught us anything is that uncertainty for people gatherings is something we need to live with. Furthermore, a lot of this type of marketing is barely linked to specific value beyond brand awareness. It’s time to disrupt yourselves by really evaluating value. In a digitizing world, a marketing budget should be reflective of the overall business direction.
  2. Outdoor is not dead, it just needs creativity: As the world was locked downed due to covid-19, one key consequence was that we were forced to spend more time in doors. As such, many of the billboards had no eyes on them. However, as things

open up, it’s time for brands to challenge billboard companies to create experiential advertising. Like ‘the floating cat’ in Tokyo, a 3-D anamorphic outdoor ad, billboards can be engaging and exciting for those who cross paths with them. Outdoor advertising needs to be reimagined to drive brand ‘stickiness’ in a bold manner.

  1. Thought leadership needs to be genuine: The pressure for relevancy has driven many executives into taking up video and word based content to be seen as authorities and subject matter experts. Begs the question, is it genuine? Does the person you are putting in front of the camera genuinely care to be a source of knowledge and consistently share insights. Thought leaders have an intrinsic drive to share information. It is not just based on one’s position in an organisation. So for 2022, look deeply within for talent that have authentic perspectives they can contribute to public discourse for the benefit of your brand.
  2. Influencers, do you really need them?: This is a question many brand managers have to scratch their heads over every time they go-to-market. In an effort to be seen as a cool and relevant, many brands, large and small have jumped on the influencer bandwagon to drive awareness. The world over influencers have presented brands with a new platform for awareness by using their personalities to market to their followers. Think Kim Kardashian, Mihlali Ndamase, Mjamica, they all have legion of followers who engage with their content on their social media pages. As a brand manager, your job is to be discerning and ensure brand fit. In doing research, look beyond the numbers: audit their historic content type, look into the engagements, do their followers actually engage based on the content subject? Is their tone of engagement relevant to your brand? That is what will answer the question… does your brand need them.
  3. It’s time to take the ROI conversation seriously: This is more of a self-preservation tip. Measuring marketing activity and impact has for many brands been a half-baked approach. For greater impact in 2022, marketing teams need to introspect and fully embrace the technologies. Digital and social media platforms have presented us an opportunity to actually measure our efforts. So insights, listening and automation tools need to be added to your technology stack for you to better reports on your impact.  Get closer to sales and service teams, as your efforts often have a direct bearing on their output.

Lastly, remember that visibility needs to lead to action for your marketing to become a value centre.

 

Modiri Mogende is a Managing Director at Launch Comms, with over 10 years’ experience in media, PR and marketing, he holds a BA and a PgD in Digital Marketing.   

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WeekendLife

Coal still King

15th December 2021
Coal still King

More than 40 countries have committed to shift away from coal in pledges made at the COP26 climate summit. Botswana on the other hand has different plans.

Some 850 Kilometres South West of the capital city Gaborone, lies a winding sandy landscape with wind worn- formations on the horizon accompanied by the harsh sun. The Kalahari Desert is conspicuous in the area.  Here one finds BORAVAST a cluster of villages; Bokspits, Rappelspan, Vaalhoek and Struizendum.

Although the desert is expected to be barren and brown, green blobs occupy the landscape. These are Mesquite a Prosopis species locally referred to as Sexanana. An invasive tree species that has successfully colonised the area all thanks to its properties that enable it to release a toxin to suppress growth of nearby competing plants.

This has resulted in the replacement of most of the indigenous vegetation in the area, forming dense thorn bushes. Circumstantial evidence suggests that it may also be lowering important fresh-water aquifers and clogging boreholes with its extensive root system. This has seriously led to degraded rangelands and reduced biodiversity.

BORAVAST has found a loophole by clearing the species. The clearance is to generate income for the community whilst also ensuring rehabilitation of the landscape to increase continued flow of ecosystem goods and services, simultaneously promoting of livelihoods.

The BORAVAST community is on a mission to create a backbone for the national economy through the community project as they believe that they have the potential to scale up and produce opportunities for local businesses to participate in the value chain of the national economy.

According to BORAVAST Trust Vice Chairman Gideon Martin: “The project has been dormant since 2015, however during the 2019/20 financial year, the Trust resuscitated the projects operations under the sponsorship of the UNDP (Kgalagadi and Ghanzi Drylands Ecosystem Project).

Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) has also jumped into the band wagon by presenting machinery, office equipment and branding assets worth more than 1 million pula to the BORAVAST Trust. The Department of Forestry has also chipped in with P464 000.To date there are only two operational value chain business being charcoal and fodder production in BORAVAST. Our charcoal product has been tested and competes with coal from Morupule, our fodder is also of high nutritional quality.”

A member of the trust describes the charcoal making process: “Charcoal is made by heating wood from Sexanana to high temperatures in the absence of oxygen. This is done with ancient technology of building a fire in a pit, then bury it in the ground. The result is that the wood partially combusts, removing water and impurities and leaving behind mostly pure carbon.

The tricky part is to maintain the heat at a temperature that is appropriate to avoid the wood turning into ash. It is a tedious and risky process as we also have to be on the look out to contain the fire to avoid wild fires. We sit by the pots hours on end to ensure all goes well on the other hand, Charcoal burning produces large amounts of Carbon Monoxide (CO) which is harmful to us when exposed to very high levels.”

In his blog Kobus Venter an activist states that, “these are signs that governments are trying to regulate the industry by introducing more efficient charcoal-making kilns and establishing plantations to ensure sustainability of the timber source. In Namibia, millions of hectares of encroachment bush is being converted to charcoal and sold to neighbouring South Africa as barbecue charcoal.

South Africa itself (according to the most recent South Africa Yearbook) is plagued with alien plant infestations, totalling more than 10 million hectares, about eight percent (8%) of the country’s land surface area. The rate of spread is alarming and their numbers are projected to double over the next 15 years.  More recently Vuthisa Technologies started to convert slashed invasives into charcoal and biochar using Emission Reducing Biochar kilns in a project known as the Vuthisa Biochar Initiative.”

However, charcoal is the primary energy source for urban Africa, but its production is widely informal and unregulated. Consequently, charcoal is entwined with violence against nature through rampant deforestation and violence against vulnerable rural communities, fuelling violent political economies of conflict and extraction.

As they are violently dispossessed of forests and land, communities living in production areas face destruction of their cultural heritage, embodied in nature, and the conditions for economic and political dignity. This undermines possibilities for sustainable peace.

Natural Resource Management in the Kgalagadi landscape is characterized by competition and conflict between conservation goals, economic development and the preservation of livelihoods.

Economic development inevitably leads to trade-offs between land uses, and requires choices to be made between the conversion of forests into anthropogenic land uses such as agriculture, on the one hand, and maintaining natural forests with their inherent ecosystem services.

Botswana to realize its national priorities in environmental management focusing on managing the trade-off between income generation and environmental sustainability. The trade-offs between development and environmental sustainability are becoming more evident in the form of threats to fauna and flora, air pollution and water pollution. Ensuring that sustainable resource extraction levels are within the capacity of the environment to assimilate and regenerate is a key concern.

Global Energy Monitor (GEM) that develops and shares information on energy projects in support of the worldwide movement for clean energy. Has revealed in their 2021 report titled “Deep Trouble; Tracking Global Coal Mine Proposals” that Botswana has 6 Coal Mine Development Projects.

It continues; “The Special Report on 1.5°C by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that CO2 emissions from coal use needs to fall 50 to 80% by 2030 to keep warming well below 2°C. If proposed new mines open as intended, the CO2 emissions from combustion will be equivalent to 4,639 Mt a year, a 14% increase over global CO2 emissions in 2020 (34,100 Mt), barring declines elsewhere.

In addition, the mines will leak an estimated 13.5 Mt of methane each year from broken coal seams and surrounding rock strata, based on coal mine depth and the gas content of the coal seam. Combined, the annual greenhouse gas emissions from proposed coal mines will be between 5,000 and 5,800 Mt of CO2-equivalent (CO2e) each year (for CO2e100 and CO2e20, respectively), comparable to the annual CO2 emissions of the United States (5,100 Mt). The build out of new mines, therefore, raises serious concerns about meeting the Paris climate agreement.”

Science continues to confirm the urgency of climate crisis. The main issue now is that the  ‘super powers’ are now realising their contribution to climate change and are devising means to halt the repercussions. Now enters the matter of climate justice; those who are least responsible for climate change suffer the ,most, Botswana has not fully utilised her coal reserves and coal production from wood yet the world is about to phase them out. What about the BORAVAST Trust trying to make a living?  The question of the day would be whether an energy transition will be possible in the near future considering that Botswana uses her physical wealth ( coal ) to grow her economy?

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WeekendLife

The King’s journal 

23rd November 2021
Kgafela Kgafela II

This book is a true-life story of an African King based in South Africa. The Last Frontier is a resistance stand by Bakgatla Ba Kgafela tribe and its line of Kings from 1885 against a dark force called ‘western democracy’ that is insidiously destroying lives, peoples, nations and threatens to wipe away whole civilizations in Africa.

The story flows through four important episodes of history, beginning in about 1885 when Bechuanaland Protectorate was formed. This section briefly reveals interactions between Kgosi Linchwe 1 and the British Colonial Government, leading to the establishment of Bakgatla Reserve by Proclamations of 1899 – 1904.

The second episode deals with Kgosi Molefi’s interaction with the British Colonial Government in the period of 1929-36. The third episode records Kgosi Linchwe II’s interactions with the British Colonial Government and black elites of Bechuanaland. It covers the period of 1964-66, leading to Botswana’s independence. Kgosi Linchwe ii resisted the unlawful expropriation of his country (Bakgatla Reserve) by Sir Seretse Kgama’s government of 1966 to no avail. He wrote letters of objection (December 1965) to Her Majesty the Queen of England, which are reproduced in this book.

The fourth episode covers the period between Kgafela Kgafela II’s crowning as King of Bakgatla in 2008 to 2021. It is a drama of the author’s resistance to the present-day Botswana Government, a continuation of Bakgatla Kings’ objection against losing Bakgatla country to the Kgama dynasty assisted by the British Government since 1885. The story is told with reference to authentic letters, documents, and Court records generated during the period of 1885-2019. There is plenty of education in history, law, and politics contained in The Last Frontier for everyone to learn something and enjoy.   

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