Madikwe Magic

Boitumelo Maswabi
Madikwe Cultural Festival

A chat with cultural festival organiser, Tshegofatso Powane

In an era where family-friendly festivals are fast becoming scarce, Madikwe Cultural Festival stands out as one of the most inclusive daytime, open air festivals in the local events calendar.

Slated for Saturday 2nd March from 10am till late at Newville Gardens in Sikwane, the fest celebrates culture through cuisine, music, traditional gear and games, while aiming to remain affordable and accessible to all.

This week, Voice Woman caught up with the woman behind the event, serial entrepreneur, Tshegofatso Powane, who boldly entered the male-dominated entertainment space three years ago.

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A retailer, farmer and events venue owner, the 45-year-old says she wanted to start something that would not only offer alternative entertainment to the Kgatleng district and surroundings, but also impact generations by curating a family event where children can learn cultural practices.

A regular patron of the now-defunct Orange Letlhafula festival, the mum of four girls was inspired to replicate the concept.

“I thought to introduce a similar event in my husband’s home village of Mmathubudukwane, where I’ve been an in-law for over 16 years and had, over time, observed the sole leisure activity was hanging out at drinking holes. I thought, ‘surely there was a demographic that preferred alternative entertainment, a family-focused event would be perfect!’ I was also concerned that my own children didn’t know their culture because of the urban lifestyle where they spend too much time on gadgets, indoors. Come to think of it, our generation played outdoors, exploring life, yet there were no such social ills as substance abuse, because we weren’t idle,” she notes.

“This cultural festival is family-centric; our children can see how a cow is slaughtered and learn the process of preparing traditional foods, on site – dishes like mokwetjepe, ngati, serobe etc. So, the purpose of this event is to preserve our culture by educating children in a fun setting. Fortunately, we’re blessed to have a garden where we can host events,” she explains.

Funding the project from her own pocket, Powane has struggled to attract substantial sponsorship.

ORGANISER: Tshegofatso Powane

“Some corporates were happy to consider my proposal. In fact, one mentioned that their headquarters abroad had communicated to the Botswana branch to move away from focusing on only sport but support lifestyle events as well, which raised my hopes of clinching a deal. Lo and behold, just yesterday, I received a response that unfortunately the timing isn’t ‘favourable’ and I should try again next year. This is our biggest challenge as event organisers: most potential sponsors are focused on sport. Compounding that is often confusing feedback – either you approached companies too early or too late; one wonders when exactly is the best time to submit proposals? In all honesty, I feel perhaps they favour big brands and, since some of us are new in the industry, they’d like us to reach that level before they can associate with us. But, question is, how will we ever scale such heights when we don’t get the support in the first place?” she asks.

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An eternal optimist, Powane is not one to be easily discouraged.

Despite the lack of sponsorship and low turnout in the first year, the festival has grown, with last year’s installment seeing Batswana throng Newville Gardens.

“We didn’t attract any sponsors in the first year. I wasn’t too profit-driven in the inaugural event; I was happy to break even and only look forward to start making money the following year. Last year, Soil Engineers Botswana sponsored us to the tune of P50, 000, which took care of artists’ payments. VIP tickets also sold fairly well. Additionally, most of the food like mmidi and dinawa, morogo, etc, came from my farm,” says Powane, adding this unfortunately won’t be possible for the 2024 event as all her seedlings were burnt by the sun.

Powane plans to move the festival to Mochudi next year in an attempt to tempt more Gaborone people to attend.

“Cash flow issues have caused me to consider taking the concept closer to a larger market. Advertising can be quite expensive. However, local media, from print to electronic, have been very supportive. Look, this event creates employment for the community of the river villages – our cooks, security, stage, lighting and of course the artists themselves, which is why we hope to collaborate with big corporates like Orange Botswana, especially because they have done this previously. I believe in the last three years we’ve managed to prove that we’re capable. In fact, we’re in the BTO events calendar. I am someone who never wants to fail. When I start something, I believe God wants me to do it because He planted the idea in me. I need God to be glorified in this festival – where anyone thought it was impossible, make it possible, for Your name, God!”

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The line-up comprises crowd-pullers such as Dr Vom and Khoisan, as well as: Maghebula, Dikgogela, Sua Pan Creations, DJ Batsy, Fondo Fire, Sean Lacoostaq-BW, Matlotla and Just Boemo.

“Come and experience lobebe lwa ngwao with free Setswana cuisine including bojalwa jwa Setswana; games like mohele, morabaraba, koi and dibeke … tlayang re ‘tseye thobane’ re tsosolose ngwao ya rona ya Setswana. Tickets are available for P200 Adults and kids at P100 at Webtickets, Choppies, Spar, and on the 24th at Mmathubudukwane Clinic, Newville Gardens in Sikwane or call me on 73 672 839,” she concludes.

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