The second wave of the covid-19 pandemic has delivered a debilitating blow to an already ailing creative industry, leaving artists, musicians, promoters, performers and many others without a recovery plan for 2021.
What entertainers had hoped to be a better year for them appears is possibly going to be the worst as the Presidential Covid-19 Task Force Team is already becoming even more strict, tightening regulations in the fight now against the new covid-19 variant. This 501.V2. strain of variant which is believed to be more contagious was first detected in South Africa but eventually got itself through the borders of Botswana recently. The number of covid-19 infections continued to rise and as a result government has since imposed an extended night curfew from January 4th to the 31st of January this year with mass gathering of people strictly prohibited. This became as sign that things might possibly not look so good for the creative industry again this year and it has consequently shattered their hope as they had anticipated that they will be allowed to start hosting festivals from December last year.
“This situation is like the weather it is very unpredictable so we do not have the actual answers to say what we have put on the table we are going to keep on pressing government to act on it, we keep on shifting ideas to see the proper solution,” Botswana Entertainment Promoters Association (BEPA) Secretary General, Sidney ‘Boogie Sid’ Nzala answered when asked about their plan for 2021 during a press conference they held in collaboration with Botswana Music Union (BOMU) in Gaborone this week. Nzala reiterated the fact that they work in an industry that thrives through mass gathering a condition which however seem to be impossible under the current circumstances as it is seen as a high risk of spreading the virus. The new covid-19 variant has come at a time when BEPA and BOMU were hopeful that government will agree to implementation of their proposed recovery guidelines which they presented to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture Development (MYSC) in June last year. Inline with the then WHO Mass Gathering Guidelines released in May last year the two bodies then proposed for government to allow at least 300 attendee for their picnic events among other ideas.
“With the new virus chances of government opening for mass gathering events are very slim and we therefore need to explore other ways in which we can do the entertainment business without necessarily relying only in gathering people. We also have to engage the private sector so as to see how best they can help the creative industry during this difficult times,” Nzala said. BEPA President Gilbert Seagile has revealed that they are also working on a post covid-19 recovery plan which he said includes engaging the likes of the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) and the Local Enterprise Authority to see how they can also assist promoters and artists.
That as it may BOMU President, Fresh Lesokwane has revealed that as another way to relief the artists from the harsh pandemic effects MYSC is undertaking three documentary programmes in which selected artists are getting paid. The recordings comprise of the Music Extravaganza, NOW TV recordings as well as the recording of music legends across the country are expected to end in March this year. For the documenting of music legends Seagile revealed that so far a total of P1.1 million has already been used in recording 26 selected music legends in Gaborone, Francistown and Maun respectively. The artist were each paid P20 000 whilst the remaining amount was used to cover for other expenses such as logistics and catering. Seagile says upon completion the documentary will be aired on Botswana Television and Now TV as well as converted into a book for commercial sale.