Gaborone — The decline in the number of artistes who participated in this year's President's Day competitions has been described as a positive development.
Speaking during the award ceremony on July 17, Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development Thapelo Olopeng said the reduced numbers showed that the competitions had impacted positively on the livelihood of artistes.
"Only 14 813 participants registered for this year's President's Day competitions, which is a decline from 18 971 registered in 2016 taking into account that in 2008 participants were 3 274," he said.
Explaining, Mr Olopeng said the decline was attributable to the fact that artistes were growing and exiting the competitions to give chance to new entrants.
He said in line with his ministry's mandate for the arts, they had cultivated the ground for winners to step onto the international stage as and when opportunities arose to showcase Botswana culture, music and dance.
"Our artistes often get invited to popular exhibitions and festivals around the world through our friendly cultural exchanges with international and bilateral partners.
In this regard, I am pleased to report that my ministry has been able to fund some of these missions to the best extent possible within our means," he said.
He said the awards ceremony was the result of a country-wide programme of events which began some months back.
Minister Olopeng thanked President Mokgweetsi Masisi and First Lady Neo Masisi for gracing the occasion and the support extended to the ministry which he said went a long way in growing the arts across the country.
"As an artiste himself, the president has plans to grow the arts sector for the benefit of the economy and he has since instructed my ministry to work with other ministries to grow this sector," he said further expressing gratitude the immense support and guidance President Masisi gave to the arts.
He noted that at inception of the competitions in 2008, the goal was to unearth and celebrate Botswana's diverse cultural heritage adding that the mission had been accomplished.
He said the competitions had also provided a platform for Batswana artistes of all ages to showcase their skills and talents and to participate in the economy while earning a living for themselves.
"I wish to commend all arts and culture practitioners, present and past winners of competitions, and my hardworking staff at the ministry throughout the country for making the competitions a great success," he said.
With over 59 categories, each having a winner, different dignitaries presented awards to only those who got position one.
Categories included Best Seperu, Best Sebirwa, Best Setapa, Best Polka, Best Dikhwaere, Best Backtrack Artist, Best Segaba Artist, Best Katara, Best Comedian, Best Dj, Best Newcomer Live, Best Drama Group, Best Drawing, Best Painting and Best Female Model among others.
The first family as well as Minister Olopeng also got the chance to present a few prizes among the recipients the legendary John Selolwane for Best in Mentoring (Performing Arts).
Bra John, as he is popularly known among jazz lovers, is credited with influencing not only local artistes but also those he worked with internationally including the late Hugh Masekela and Ray Phiri.
Bathusi Lesolobe (Best Play Writer), Amantle Brown (Best Music Video Production), Karabo Molema (Best Video Production), Prika Makosha (Best in Show-National Art), Tumelo Malwetse (Best in Show-National Basket and Craft) and Selimilwe Ntwe (Best Mentoring-Visual Arts) were also presented by President Masisi, First Lady and Minister Olopeng.
The theme of this year's competitions was Creative Industries, A Vehicle for Sustainable Development.
Source : BOPA