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Postcard from Nigeria - Martin Mabutho on Africa’s Creative Industry

Publishing Date : 08 April, 2019

Author : ORATILE J. KEBAKILE

2005 was a year of tremendous achievement in African fashion & tourism. The prestigious MNet’s Face of Africa Model Search bootcamp was hosted in Kasane, with the majestic Chobe as the backdrop.


It was beamed to millions of Africans who later watched in awe as Kaone Kario was ultimately crowned the winner during the finale in Sun City (SA). She was catapulted into global success and remains one of the world’s leading models to date. 2010 was a year of great sporting highlight across Africa when the FIFA World Cup was held in South Africa. Bespoke handset holders enjoyed this event with the convenience of the DStv Mobile service - a new platform allowing cellphones to double as DStv screens. Football fans across Africa watched on as global heroes played ball on African soil.


These two highlights of African grandeur featured Martin Mabutho behind the scenes. A man whose passion for the continent’s broadcast media saw him become one of Africa’s most prominent minds in the business. Having played a pivotal role in these milestones, he holds them dear as career highlights.


He was born in South Africa, raised between Gaborone, Lobatse, Francistown and now resides in Lagos, Nigeria! “15 years later, I can safely say that I absolutely love Nigeria!” said Martin, “It encourages you to either be the best or amongst the best. I have earned many lifelong friendships, and some of them also come from other countries”.


 He shares that he is a fan of theatre and enjoys performances at the popular Terra Kulture cultural arts & lifestyle centre in Victoria Island, Lagos. “That’s the first place I take my touring guests! Nigeria is a great place to be for most forms of music. I listen to almost everything and enjoy live bands once in a while.”


He was named Marketing Professional of the Year 2015 in Nigeria, Brand Personality of the Year 2016 still in Nigeria and was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He studied Social Sciences at the University of Botswana, majoring in Political Science & Public Administration. In South Africa, he took on International Marketing at UNISA then THNK University of Creative Leadership in Amsterdam for an Executive Leadership program. In view, is an MBA with Henley Business School.


Known formatively as ‘Sounds’ thanks to his love of music, Martin was a member of the groundbreaking Tribal Monks aka TMO alongside Solo B, Skizo, IQ, Pongo Ristas, Moggie, Jeff and Dolio. Recording with the band led to Martin discovering his talent as a voiceover artist, event MC and briefly a presenter on Yarona fm. “It was during this time that I fell in love with the stage and decided I would never have to wear a suit nor be confined to a bland 9 to 5,” He says.


His job as Chief Customer Officer at MultiChoice Nigeria, involves an exhilarating environment in which he leads a team committed to on-the-pulse customer insight, retention and triggering repeat product-use.  “It’s a portfolio with many moving parts so we are constantly monitoring, evaluating and sharpening strategy,” says the broadcast media pundit adding, “We track our performance daily so the reality of heading such a big market stays with me 24 hours a day as I find new ways to increase shareholder value!” But it’s all done with great passion and excitement, he notes.


“I wouldn’t change a thing about my job. I grew up in this company, it feeds my curiosity about the world and I’ve reached career-defining milestones.” He warmly reflects on the peace he gains from retreating to his home after the thrills of his job, sharing that his wife and children ground him and maintain balance in his life.


On his recollection of the Gaborone he left behind, Martin remembers a booming city with exciting developments. He further fondly recalls memories of bush camping, hunting and home village road-trips with friends over holidays. Setswana cuisine remains his dining preference. “Nothing beats Dijo Tsa Setswana so I indulge while home because you can’t get it here and the palate in Nigeria is quite different!”


To creatives back home, he says “I think that staying power should be the goal in whatever you do because when you do your thing really well, people will start chasing you for your services! Remain authentic and faithful to your trade. I’ve also learnt to respect intuition and gut. I had to navigate unchartered waters for a job I love so you learn to trust yourself and sharpen your focus.”


Martin shares his excitement at the developments in Botswana’s creative industry. “It brings me great hope to learn that government and a few companies are creating more platforms for creatives to showcase their work and make a living, so we’ll get there soon!” He holds the Maitisong Festival and Gaborone International Music & Culture Festival in high regard as stimulants of the arts. “It’s exciting to see what they’re doing to harness talent in Botswana, give it a platform to shine and earn then also give audiences something memorable!”

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