Francistown: Cultural Players put Arts Festival on Centre Stage

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Local musicians and Supa Ngwao Museum to showcase local talents

Francistown based Supa Ngwao Museum and local musicians plan to build up an annual Francistown Arts Festival and monthly culture activities in Botswana’s second largest town. Kick off was a pre independence jazz concert at the museum with eight local musicians, Ikalanga-jazz maestro Ndingo Johwa (photo, left) among them. He said, Francistown, being the second city in Botswana, “deserves the best entertainment”. Supa Ngwao Museum’s director Stella Rundle (photo, right) added: “We want a venue that will be vibrant.”

On the fringe of the concert Stella Rundle stressed the vast variety of cultures and traditions in Francistown and its surrounding area making it a unique place for culture focused activities: “Francistown is a very cosmopolitan city. We have African and Western cultures living here. We try to blend these lifestyles.”

Ndingo Johwa, who issued seven jazz albums so far, said that culture was not static. Explaining the programme of the evening, he added: “We both employ African and Western instruments. We pick up from other cultures as well.” But the music to be heard at Supa Ngwao Museum will be more than jazz: Hip Hop and Rhythm and Blues concerts are planned. Ndingo Johwa: “This will be the line-up. People can expect to hear it as well.” During Independence Day celebrations Ndingo Johwa and his band also played for Botswana’s Vice President Ponatshego Kedikilwe, being a special request of the politician before retiring.

According to Stella Rundle, the next steps towards the Arts Festival will be monthly concerts at Supa Ngwao Museum.

Being an evening with both talented and versatile musicians it proved to be a pity that only about 20 people took their chance to listen to a to date unique compilation of live music. The artists’ performance in the garden of the museum definitely deserved more audience. The venue, being closely linked the colonial history of both Botswana and Francistown, proved to be an extremely suitable location to commemorate and celebrate the 48th independence anniversary.

The concert was part of a wide range programme starting in the afternoon with a tour to Nyangabgwe hill and a performance of a highly awarded traditional dancing group from town. The hosting staff of the museum took their name “Supa Ngwao” literally and catered for their guests with regional soul food like cooked and roasted groundnuts and corn.

While being a well-known and reputed place for exhibitions on culture and tradition of Northeast Botswana, Supa Ngwao Museum recently developed itself into a venue for open air concerts and shows as well. Currently an exhibition on the history of the railway network which shaped the modern era can be seen, as well as the extended and revamped curio shop selling bags, baskets and gifts produced by locals.

Among the various artists on stage were as well Herbert, Diawo, Duncan, Mengwe, Sejiso, Masilo and Clement.


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Niko Wald

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