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Beach Party, Namibia, Botswana & Economic Diversification; a sad reality

Publishing Date : 19 January, 2016

Author : GOBE TAZIBA

Let me start with a confession. I hereby confess that this article is penned with mixed emotions, bitter sweet emotions to be precise. A part of me is really happy and proud while a part of me is really sad and worried, I trust this catch-22 will uncover itself as you read through this article.

This past weekend, like every other weekend, I went to purchase weekend newspapers in their diversity, and as usual the newspapers were heavily loaded with breaking news and exclusive interviews.

However WeekendPost newspaper caught my psychological and emotional attention the most. Surprisingly it was neither the cover story nor supporting headline stories that caught my attention the most this time around. 

It was a story titled, ‘Namibia harvests big from the Beach Party’, by David Baaitse under the weekendLife section of the paper, this is the story that caught my attention the most and triggered this installment.

The moment I saw the title of David’s article, I whispered ‘I told you’ to myself because there was no one I could say this to, but in all honesty it was not directed to myself, it was directed to policy makers, legislators and our citizenry at large.

This was also based on the sentiments raised in an analysis I authored and published in this platform about a year ago, on the 27-12-14 to be exact. The analysis was titled, ‘2014, ‘a Youth Advocate script’, below is a verbatim extract from the analysis; “2014 is also the year we witnessed the 'Beach Party & Batlokwa Royals misunderstanding', ‘Tlokweng authorities fiercely opposed the hosting of the beach party in their backyard on Saturday as bogosi, sub-district council and law enforcement authorities all fought hard to frustrate the event’ (Mmegi; 8/12/14).

I hardly attend entertainment events (because I’m not blessed with dance-floor tactics and financially challenged), but I sturdily support growth of this industry. I support it for its direct link to our national Economic Development and Economic Diversification aspirations.

In this era of skyrocketing Youth Un- and Underemployment it is suicidal to frustrate entrepreneurship efforts of our own citizens. It is not the first time our royals and government institutions send such mixed signals to local investors/entrepreneurs. We remain extremely grateful for the court-order and legal brains that granted the innovative entrepreneurs’ permission to continue with the ‘Beach Party’ though irreparable damage was already incurred.

It is beyond heart-breaking to see fellow countrymen go through such intimidation, humiliation and debts, their only sin being that they seek innovative economic diversification opportunities to lessen the burden their families, communities and nations face. We will not successfully diversify our economy and create jobs before demolishing such obstacles and confusions, it’s a basic dictum”. I hope you now understand why I had to whisper ‘I told you’.

Before we dwell on economic diversification and economic development specifics and implications of this matter, we should firstly congratulate and salute Tumelo Lekolwane and the Flying Promotions team for; following their dream, their resilience, their innovation and hard work.

The prosperity of our country and continent hinges on our ability to inspire and produce more youth like them. With thier success story I’m hopeful many young people will be inspired to think out of the box and reach for their dreams at all costs and against all odds.

The lead actor in ‘The Purist of happiness’ movie, Chris Gardner, emphasized that ‘…You got a dream, you should protect it. …You want something, go get it’. Correspondently renowned business mogul, Gayton Mckenzie, emphasized the same spirit in his hailed book, ‘A hustler’s Bible’. I’m sure like most of us Gardner and Mckenzie are proud of this story. 

Secondly, we should congratulate and pay gratitude to the Namibian government, the Minister and Ministry of Tourism, Walvis Bay Mayor and the Walvis Bay Municipality, Namibian Tourism Board, Air Namibia, Namibian Breweries and many other stakeholders for seeing the light and embracing rear talent when we (Botswana) failed to recognize, embrace and utilize it. It is often said one man's trash is another man's treasure.

As a country we saw the Beach Party concept as outright trash and a huge inconvenience. We treated its innovative youthful founders as a huge threat to our countless internationally acclaimed rankings. We saw it as a formula for moral degradation.

For their selfless efforts and innovation Beach Party founders were treated like hardcore criminal that have no space in our mineral rich republic. But guess what; just next door the Namibian government saw a huge, incredible and precious treasure in these young entrepreneurs.

In my preliminary analyses of economic development in the SADC region, I observed that just like Botswana, Namibia is battling with serious cases of unemployment, inequality, poverty and economic diversification.

Therefore like Botswana, Namibia is on a massive and urgent mission to diversify its economy, create decent jobs and promote sustainable foreign direct investment to mention but a few. Any fair minded compatriot would admit that their recent move to partner with Flying Promotions is a step in the right direction.

It has already been conveyed that the inaugural Beach Party International was an amazing success; it attracted a large number of people from different parts of the continent, Batswana inclusive. Like most economic development economists I believe one of our biggest weaknesses and challenges is assuming that economic diversification and economic development can only be achieved through multimillion pula tenders in construction, mining, telecommunication and the likes.

The notion that “small things, small miracles in small places will bring change to our land”, is real and powerful, it also applies to dynamics of economic development and economic diversification.

Whilst chair of PAC (Parliamentary Accounts committee), Hon. Modubule, described our country’s economic development efforts as ‘academic exercise than reality’. Furthermore UB (University of Botswana) academic, Lesego Sekwati, also makes similar observations and proposes feasible economic diversification options for Botswana in an informative journal publication titled, “Botswana: A Note on Economic Diversification”.

The short term and long term solutions to Botswana’s devastating economic development and economic diversification have been widely, robustly and extensively researched and publicized, it is only up to us to put such recommendations to good use as early as possible. At this juncture I hope you have finally fully understood the mixed emotions and catch-22 herein. I hope you rejoiced and smiled where there was need; I also hope you shared the concerns and fears when the dimensions turned sour and bitter.

Most importantly, I hope you are more energized and determined to ensure we learn from our mistakes, so we avoid similar mistakes in the near and distant future. As our revised National Youth Policy of 2010 rightly emphasizes and recommends, ‘we live in global era, which has challenges and opportunities. Botswana should be prepared to confront the challenges and seize the opportunities’.

* Taziba is a Youth Advocate, Columnist & Researcher with keen interest in Youth Policy, Civic Engagement, Social Inclusion and Capacity Development
(7189 0354/gtaziba@yahoo.co.uk)

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