Saturday saw Francistown Club come alive with a mix of various ethnic groups and cultures at the annual ‘Winter Night Market’. This event – organised by Rotary Club of Francistown – is a platform for locals and others to set up stalls and sell various goods, ranging from confectionary delights, exotic dishes second hand books, clothing items and other wares. Entrepreneurs, craftsmen, vendors, and small scale businesses also showcase their products.
Rotary Club of Francistown is an extension of Rotary International – a global network of people from various walks of life, leaders, health professionals, entrepreneurs and many others, who in concert, unite and take action to create a lasting change across the world and in communities.
According to Saardia Rossenkhan, the event coordinator, “The 8th Annual Winter Market is an annual event held in winter, when the town appears to be dormant due to the cold weather…”
She added: “Rotary Club of Francistown decided to find a way to bring a variety of entertainers, craftsmen, artists, vendors, and other entrepreneurs together for the sole purpose of providing a safe environment for the residents of Francistown to enjoy an evening out with their family.”
This was manifest by the scores of families that graced the event, with some indulging in the various cuisines on offer, kids playing video games while others bounced on the Jumping Castle.
The Rotary Club, working in conjunction with BOSASNET, collaborate to on this event to raise funds that go to the Botswana Police Services who utilise these proceeds to advance their drug awareness campaign.
The Botswana Police Services were in attendance at this event, with a conspicuous stall that gave the event a strong sense of security. The aim, with regards to the monies handed to the police from the funds generated at the Night Market, is to erect a billboard in the city of Francistown, with the dangers and perils of drug abuse emblazoned on this giant billboard.
Other organisations that were in attendance were several District Health Management Teams, screening for various diseases and ailments free of charge. The National Blood Transfusion Services were also present at this event and took this opportunity to educate the public about the scarcity of blood, and to also collect blood from willing donors.
The Botswana Defence Force was in attendance at the 8th Annual Night Market, bringing with it their Traditional Dance troupe, which thrilled the attendees of the event with their performance.
The Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) also graced the event.
Rossenkhan said if all goes well, BTO would partner with the Rotary Club of Francistown and collaborate with the City Council to move this event to the streets of Francistown, giving the city a draw card tourist event held annually, similar to the Grahamstown music festival in South Africa. “The aim is for this event to become the main Francistown event of the year,” said Rossenkhan.
One of the establishments with a stall was Peermont Metcourt Hotel. The hotel’s Operations Manager Martin West said this was the third time Peermont Metcourt Hotel supported the Rotary Club of Francistown Winter Night Market.
Their stall sold scrumptious meaty delights, at highly subsidised prices and provided free food for the staff of the Rotary club and the police who were present to provide a safe environment for all. Martin emphasized that their stall was not there to make a profit, with all the money generated going to overall efforts of Rotary clubs agenda for this Night Market.
West said: “Peermont Metcourt hotel over past years also sponsored rooms for people manning charity stalls.”
The scourge of drug abuse has hit Botswana with ferocity and is permeating every level of society. Crime has also escalated, as drug addicts engage in violent thievery to purchase and support their drug habit. According to Rossenkhan, this is the 3rd consecutive year the focus point of their Night Market has been on the ‘war’ on drugs.
From spectators’ perspective, it seems the 8th Annual Winter Market was a resounding success, despite the bitterly cold night that had slight showers.