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DJ Fresh’s blood, sweat and tears – not in vain

DJ Fresh, a renowned radio personality, has spent over 30 years in the industry, inspiring a revolution in Botswana by unearthing hidden talent. Since joining RB2 in April 1992, he has dedicated his career to discovering talent in rural and remote areas of the country, where individuals often lack access to platforms that can showcase their abilities.

For DJ Fresh, his journey began with a stroke of luck. He was called in for an audition on a Monday and by the next day, he received a phone call informing him that he had secured the job. This experience shaped his perspective and motivated him to change the lives of young people in remote areas whose talents had yet to be discovered.

To celebrate his remarkable career, DJ Fresh conceptualized an idea that would leave a lasting impact and create a memorable legacy. He partnered with the Botswana Music Union (BOMU) to recruit performers from all corners of the country. Through his company, Big Dawg Productions, DJ Fresh organized a traveling showcase, bringing a truck equipped with the necessary equipment to each location. BOMU then selected a group of 10 to 20 performers who would have the opportunity to be showcased live on television, radio, and other digital platforms for the first time in their lives.

This initiative has not only provided a platform for these talented individuals but has also created a ripple effect of positive change. As they travel from village to village, DJ Fresh and his team support local businesses, such as guest houses, lodges, eateries, and small enterprises. This has generated a valuable economic chain, benefiting the communities they visit.

One of the most significant outcomes of this extravaganza is the wealth of content that has been harvested for Botswana Television (Btv) and other channels. DJ Fresh and his team have compiled a documentary series called “Re mo tseleng,” consisting of 26 episodes. Additionally, Btv airs a program called “Serala,” which showcases the talents discovered during this initiative.

At the end of the extravaganza, a boot camp is organized to provide selected artists with training and equip them with various skills. Those who excel or are chosen at the boot camp, like the 30 artists selected last year, receive prizes in the form of cash, studio equipment, sound systems, and other valuable resources. To further support these artists, Big Dawg Productions has created a WhatsApp group where they offer advice and mentoring. This guidance extends beyond artistic development and can also cover legal matters, with the costs being covered by DJ Fresh and his team.

On top of cash prizes between P10 000 and P75 000, the top three winners have more to take home with. The first prize winner gets equipment worth P150 000, while second and third prize winners take P115 000 and P100 000 respectively. The total amount of the equipment is P365 000. As for cash prizes, P635 000 has been used and each artist get P100 000 airtime in all DBS platforms, valued at an amount of P3 million.

DJ Fresh highlighted the success story of an artist named Mindset from Letlhakane, who honed his craft using YouTube videos during the lockdown. Mindset’s dedication and talent have propelled him to excel, even in South Africa.

MINDSET SHARES JOURNEY WITH DBS ROADSHOW

After hearing about the DBS roadshow, a young self-taught music producer, Mindset, said he learnt how to produce music during the 2020 lockdown on YouTube.

“I attended the workshop and told to share my journey by the workshop host. Fortunately so, I made the Top 30 cut and was invited for a boot camp in Gaborone where we tasked with producing music and a music video. We went straight into it and my group was assigned Berry bone, who produced Mafura fura, sung by Han C.”

Mindset stressed that they hit the studio and he produced the beat of their song. “Our second producer, who is a guitarist, polished the beat and we handed it over to Berry Bone to clean the song. The song was all done and dusted and we were handed Re Mmogo visuals to shoot the music video.”

Mindset was awarded second prize winner, and his team walked away with Best Song and Best Teamwork. He said the roadshow has positively changed his life.

“The opportunity really encouraged me to do more music. I have realized that people love what I do and I have committed to push harder than before. I will invest the money in capacitating myself further in knowing more about the music industry.”

CONCEPT EXPLAINED

The initiative is done through the Ministry for State President with the aim of growing the creative sector. The main focus is on fledgling artists. These are musicians who have never got the chance to be interviewed on radio, have limited to zero resources to push their art or are far away from resources altogether.

A team, comprising of the Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS) employees together with a private company, Big Dawg Productions was assembled and tasked with hunting for this talent in fifty places across the country.

Big dawg Productions is a production company led by renowned radio personality, entrepreneur and multi-award winning radio guy, DJ Fresh.

In a nutshell, DJ Fresh’s 30 years in radio have sparked a revolution in Botswana, unearthing hidden talent and providing opportunities for individuals in remote areas. This initiative, supported by BOMU and the Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS), has not only given these artists a platform but has also created economic value and a wealth of content for television and other channels. DJ Fresh’s dedication to mentoring and supporting these artists showcases his commitment to nurturing talent and leaving a lasting legacy in the industry.

 

 

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.

 

 

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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.

 

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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.

 

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