In days gone by, people used to go out in the evenings to share stories of their trials, tribulations, triumphs and heroism as they feasted together as families, neighbours and communities.
These evening outings in Sotho languages were referred to as “maitisong”. The cultural significance of these was that the narratives, which were part of the society’s oral traditions or orature, were used to impart the history of a people from one generation to another. Stories of the community’s heroes and sheroes – past and present; dead or alive; sung or unsung – were canonised as they were etched in people’s memories. These gatherings were a form of unmediated communication platforms that sought to preserve interpersonal and intergenerational engagements.
The rapid industrialisation that our societies undertook or have gone through brought in new delivery channels such as television, cinema, vinyls/CDs, print and electronic media and now social media. It is not a debatable issue that these platforms have imposed limitations – intended and unintended – that hinder, to a large extent, interpersonal engagements.
These industrial developments have also impacted on the nature and the substance of our culture. While we recognise and accept the dynamism of our culture – which Jamaican-British cultural theorist, Stuart Hall, has eloquently referred to as the “culture dialectic” (that is, critically appreciating “what we have become”), we believe we have to retrace our steps and critically look back to what used to be the essence of our culture, extract and adapt it so that it could speak to the contemporary conditions that we live under today. That is, what we used to be has also to be central to the DNA of our today’s cultural identity.
While our evenings are techno-savvy, they tend to marginalise our yesterday’s heroes and sheroes – particularly our cultural troubadours. We often hear about them only when they have passed on and the media will sensationally report about how difficult their lives have been. These narratives will forget to mention that these were the torchbearers during the dark days of apartheid.
Brandhill Africa (Pty) Ltd – a nation brand and public diplomacy agency – intends to tap into the vibrant energy oozed by our cultural enthusiasts as they reincarnate the spirit of “maitisong” through a new township idiom: “ra tjakalla!” – which broadly means: “let’s go have some fun!”
This new call to join a celebratory troupe of music jollers and revellers is best captured retrospectively by Kool & the Gang’s 1982 classic: “Let’s go dancing…”
The “ra tjakalla” concept will be similar to the Nigeria’s “omenana” traveling festival! It is also identical to the “Festival of Fools” which celebrated the inclusive art of busking and street performances in Great Britain during the 1860s. While these cultural jamborees will take the form of street carnivals (street dances/ motorbike processions etc.) to make the events accessible to ordinary men and women in the street, the concerts will be hosted in closed venues such as stadiums, auditoriums or conference centres.
Instead of just focusing on one venue in a particular town or city, there will be supplementary activities in the villages falling under its jurisdiction.
Culture has to build bridges between the young and the old; rural and peri-urban; across the colour bar; and has to be the melting pot of all the practices that wish to unite our people into a single nation with a common and shared vision. It has to forge social cohesion.
Think about us launching this in Lephalale. This town, an undisputed South Africa’s premier reservoir of energy, is situated strategically along the South Africa-Botswana borderline. It claims this mantle since the biggest power plant plus coal liquification projects are all built in its neighbourhood.
Its strategic location basically means it is easily accessible not only to South Africa, but also to the neighbouring Botswana towns and villages in the periphery.
While the massive infrastructure development created jobs in this western part of Limpopo, and thereby creating an emerging middle class.
The reality is that the dearth of cultural activity in Lephalale on weekends and during public holidays forces this upwardly mobile middle class or a cohort of people with
disposable income to drive to Polokwane and even to various cities in Gauteng in search of fun. We need to arrest this trend. The overall objective will be to get our own citizenry to invest their money into the development of the local economy.
Imagine the full programme of “Ra tjakalla” encompassing projects such as “Ra tjakalla”! Music Festival; “Ra tjakalla”! Charity Golf Day; Ra tjakalla”! Literary Festival; “Ra tjakalla”! SMME & Tourism Exhibition; and a Mayoral Gala Dinner.
The SMME & Tourism Exhibition also hosting a workshop for all the local entrepreneurs who will be addressed by the Mayor of Lephalale, the Waterberg
District Mayor, Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), Limpopo Economic Development Agency (LEDA), Limpopo Tourism Agency, Eskom, Exarro and other companies that have invested in Lephalale.
The music festival being headlined by such artists as Cassper Nyovest, and featuring artists such as Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, Caiphus Semenya & Letta Mbulu, Zahara, and a troupe of house, kwaito and d’gong musicians. To affirm our developmental perspective, also featuring local artists and DJs – and thus giving them exposure! The difference here is that while we’ll be giving them exposure, we’ll still pay them. Yes, I know the concept of “giving exposure” is grossly abused by promoters and producers as an excuse to exploit emerging artists.
The Charity Golf Day will raise funds for a community-based project which will be nominated and adopted by the Mayor of Lephalale. We hope to attract golfers from Limpopo, Gauteng, North West and Botswana.
The Mayoral Gala Dinner hosting about 200 guests who will be listening to the local political principals entrenching brand Lephalale as a viable destination for investment, trade and tourism.
Sponsorships being solicited from the local corporates who will be provided with a variety of packages they could buy. The sponsors will be given an opportunity to promote their corporate, service and product brands.
Although i have indicated how technology is impacting on imparting of our traditions and family values over to our children, it is also highly critical as a delivery mechanism for engagement in the light of the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent measures developed to contain the spread of infections. So we will go dancing while observing the strict COVID-19 safety protocols. Those who can’t attend events physically, digital platforms provide them with the opportunity to connect virtually. With the threat of the 4th wave looming, we have to be extra cautious that we are not reckless and we have to contribute to containing the number of infections.
Brand entrenchment through social media
I am privileged to have been invited by the Egyptian African Businessmen’s Association (EABA) to make a presentation on 23 November 2021 to their webinar on the use of social media as a brand development tool. My presentation will be on “how we can adopt social media for a post-pandemic world”. This pan-African event, to be moderated by Omnia ElBahrawy (from Egypt), will also be addressed by such speakers as Dr. Yousrey Elsharkawi (Egypt), Nagla Akl (Egypt), Janet Maloka (South Africa), Patricia Kahill (Uganda), and Truman Nkanyiso Hadebe (South Africa). The empowering topics are: “A chance or a challenge for entrepreneurs?”, “Trending tools of social media in different African countries and how can one decide which channel to use?”, “Do influencers and bloggers really enhance sales or is it an overrated tool?”, “Pros and cons of social media during the pandemic”, “What are the most important 20 benefits of social media for entrepreneurs?”, and, “Is social media going to replace classical marketing tools? Or is it considered one of these tools?”
Please do register through the link provided on our Black Carpet page and I hope to see you all on Tuesday.
Tel: +27 759 4297
Mobile: +27 83 635 7773