Sunday, November 16, 2008

Remarks by the Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture Hon. Gladys T. K. Kokorwe, MP. at the opening of the 2008 Botswana- India Children's Film Festival

source: Republic of Botswana (16/11/08): TAUTONA TIMES no 37 of 2008
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President "Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"


[Salutations]...Distinguished guests Ladies and Gentlemen

1. The gathering here this evening is a celebration of the Botswana-India relations which go back a long way ever since the attainment of Independence for the two Republics. The relationship has always been and continues to be characterised by very warm relations founded on true friendship, common purpose, mutual respect and understanding as well as commitment to global peace and prosperity.

2. It is therefore not surprising that we are gathered here today to celebrate this great partnership in the form of the 2008 Children's film festival organised by the Department of Culture and Youth in the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture, the Indian High Commission to Botswana and the Children's Film Society of India.

3. Botswana, just like India, enjoys cultural diversity and multi-cultural pluralism. The history of ideas teaches us that the freedom of choice, cultural liberty and cultural pluralism starts with the freedom of the individual to freely express ideas without favour or hindrance from the state.

4. In both Botswana and India, it can safely be argued that all forms of cultural expression have been given sufficient space for manifestation. The Constitution of Botswana clearly expresses this notion in that it explicitly states in Chapter II, the different freedoms and entitlements that people have in the country and these include among others - religion, self expression, beliefs, and assembly with others as well as the dissemination of ideas. These ideals are further reiterated in the letter and spirit that is Botswana's national vision: 2016.

5. Ladies and Gentlemen, the objectives of this film festival are, among others to:

* share culture, knowledge and experiences
* create a bond between the children of Botswana and their counterparts in India
* educate both sides of the belief systems, norms, values and cultural practices of the other
* promote the spirit of multiculturalism between children of the two nations
* promote world peace, tolerance and understanding between children of Botswana and India and their counterparts elsewhere in the world

6. The objectives of this festival are in tandem with the spirit and letter of the cultural cooperation between the Republic of Botswana and that of India, entered into by the two governments on behalf of their peoples. The agreement commits both countries to undertake cultural exchanges through such activities as this film festival. The agreement further sets out the parameters of how the two governments will work together to promote and enhance the image of the other in their countries, thus helping citizens of both to explore possibilities for investment, tourism and other business related pursuits.

7. I therefore, would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank His Excellency, the High Commissioner of India for having seen it fit to work with my Ministry to arrange this important event. As part of this agreement, Botswana traditional song and dance groups and other artists have performed in India at the invitation of the Botswana embassy there and the Indian government. Just a month ago some Botswana groups were in India and we have since received accolades for the good performances they put up whilst there.

8. Director of Ceremonies, the film industry in Botswana is at its infancy. As you may all be aware this is in sharp contrast to India where they have Bollywood, located in the beautiful city of Mumbai, which industry boasts international acclaim. This festival therefore provides an excellent learning experience for us in Botswana in terms of the types of film productions that we can begin to explore for our children here. Film is key among the creative industries. It has the propensity to create many opportunities both in terms of jobs as well as investment. In a country like Botswana, where the population is largely youth, film is very significant both as a learning tool in our school's classrooms; as an engine of growth for our economy; and as medium of communication for cultural understanding, tolerance and intercultural communication.

9. Ladies and Gentlemen, in closing, let me urge all of us to think seriously about supporting the arts in Botswana. There has been a steady growth in the last few years, particularly our music which has been making commendable strides both in the region and elsewhere in the world. Film is one such area which we can support by investing money in and realise enormous benefits since it has a lot of spin-offs. I thank you. Pula!

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