GABORONE: This year marks the 25th birthday of David Slater’s brain child, the Maitisong Festival with its 26th festival at Maruapula. Maitisong is a platform for artistic expression and every year has continued to grow from strength to strength.

 It is widely celebrated as Botswana’s biggest artistic celebrations and over time has evolved into a reputable and approachable lifestyle avenue. The show is expected to be a cultural celebration of Song, Dance and Marimba Magic. It will feature both Mogwana Traditional Dancers and the MAP Marimba Band who are international stars in their own right having been invited to various parts of the Globe to perform and showcase their unique and wonderful talents. Mogwana is best known for their skill and talent with Drums and rattles.

The festival is home to a variety of annual events such as My African Dream which is the biggest project housed by Maitisong, the presidents concert, monthly film screening, Julliard School workshops and Harmony festival. My African Dream has showcased a number of memorable acts such as the Royal Tenors, which features three young Local Male Performers with amazing voices. They reportedly started singing together in May 15th 2010, and are a force to reckon with in the music world. A rarity in musical circles the trio features Lizibo with his Afro/R n B style, Malebogo with his Opera/Choral style (both with KTM Choir) and Oteng (with Sedibeng Choral) with his Classic/Pop style completes The Royal Tenors. 

Another product of the festival is Sedibeng which set a trend in 2008 by performing an opera which was a first for Botswana's local choirs. No local choirs had put up an opera in Botswana. Sedibeng Choral Society has become one of the country's most flourishing youth choirs. The youth group is purposed to singing classical music and traditional African song dance choral music. The choir was started with about 5 singers at inception (4 years ago) but today it boasts of well over 40 zealous singers and is fast expanding its repertoire every year having sung works like Antonio Vivaldi's Gloria, Beethoven's choral symphony (number9), John Rutter's Feel the Spirit, Joseph Haydn's Creation, the opera Pirates of Penzance. The group has performed for different corporate establishments and organizations such as Debswana, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, The British Council, The British High Commission, The Swedish Embassy, The Chinese Embassy, The Red Cross Society of Botswana and many others. The greatest highlight for the choir was being part of the Number One Ladies Detective Agency episode film shoot. The choir also did the opening sound track to the first episode.

Another show to watch out for at the anniversary celebrations is Botswana Amateur Arts festival who use food to make art pieces. They started off 3 years back with one young man who had a love for art and has now flourished into a whole show hosting numerous, young and vibrant artists. According to the Director of Maitisong, Mrs Rosalyn Beukes, Maitisong is the only purpose built theatre in Botswana, which invites the community to come and celebrate and join in the festivities as this celebration is regarded as a service to the community.

Through the festival, participants are able to widen their networking pool, introduce themselves to the new market as well as touch base with fellow artists through collaborations. Even though Maitisong promotes artistic expression it realizes the importance and need to have rules in place which have sustained and managed the place up to date securing and protecting the life that is Maitisong. Apparently, even though Maitisong has been around for a quarter of a century many Batswana commonly misinterpret it as a school activity. “The main challenge we face is a lack of awareness even though we have a good relationship with Btv which we use mainly to reach our target audience, we seem to not be reaching all those we wish to reach,” says Comfort Lekgowe , the secretary of Maitisong.


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