I react to the media report with regards to govt plans to build a 40,000 seater stadium and another integrated sports facility in Kanye.
Hon. Min Olopeng it’s not in me to communicate my views with you through the media. Hon Minister as a matter of fact there is a serious imbalance in the investment and development of the arts as compared to sports and youth by your Ministry, Minister there are more than 12 stadiums in this country why build another stadium? Masunga Stadium hardly hosts a single match in a year, there are two stadiums in Lobatse why build a stadium in Kanye. I was shocked to learn that Extension Gunners has abandoned the Lobatse stadium and will use National Stadium these shows there is no lack of stadia in this country.
The government spends more than 200 million annually in sports alone every year by sending athletes training and tertiary schools worldwide, by hosting games like Botswana games, BAYCOG and even for sending athletes to international sporting games and tournaments. Hon Minister what about us in the Arts? How does your Ministry intend to develop us? Why should we remain yesterday people everyday? There is a belief in your Ministry that artists must look for corporate sponsors in order to develop their craft this is difficult because the Tax Law in Botswana gives a rebate only to companies sponsoring Sports not the Arts, that’s why a lot of companies pump millions into sports not the arts. Without the Arts Council how can we be organized if you feel we are disorganized?
Hon. Minister there is a need to develop and construct galleries for the basket weavers in Shakawe, Gallery for artists in Kgalagadi, open entertainment areas and state theatres in all cities and towns. Hon Minister are you aware that the Annual grant for Table Tennis Association is 10 times higher than the BOMU Annual Grant? But how many kids play table tennis as compared to those who are musicians? Hon Min this imbalance must be corrected. We have long pleaded with the Ministry to address an issue where community halls in this country have been turned into churches therefore making it difficult for use by artists, as these churches use them greedily from Wednesday to Sunday every week. We are not against worshiping but what were these community halls built for in the first place?
Hon Min. on bended knee I beg you and your Ministry to start taking the Arts seriously because very soon Botswana arts will die and future generations will only see these baskets in museums and hear traditional songs on Matsieng cassettes! We need to create a market and develop future weavers, artists and musicians. This can only happen if there is political and financial will from your Ministry.
Yours In the Arts