CRAFTERS and apparel makers selling their wares at the ongoing Arts, Innovation and Culture Week have called on government to come up with similar initiatives to boost their businesses.
The inaugural Arts, Innovation and Culture Week, which runs from 21 – 26 September 2015, was launched on Monday amid pomp and fanfare in Maseru.
It started off with a carnival procession from the ’Manthabiseng Convention Centre which snaked via Mpilo Boulevard to Maseru Club. The parade featured people donning cultural attire and dancing to such traditional dances as Mokhibo and Litolobonya. It also had horse riders and car spinners popularly known as gusheshe.
Crafters and apparel makers who were allocated space at Maseru Club and Alliance Francaise offices told the Weekender they were recording brisk business since the Culture Week began. The extravaganza is also coinciding with the Southern African Inter Municipal Sports Association games which are running from 18 to 26 September 2015.
According to Kazi Muntu, who makes drums, beads and shirts, the Culture Week had brought him in contact with customers he normally would not reach.
“I am based in Roma and I only come to town for exhibitions or when a customer makes a request,” Muntu said
“This platform has been a boon for my business since I am able to meet more buyers and more people now know of my services.”
Anna Mahao, who makes sandals, belts and leather jackets, echoed the same sentiments, urging government to come up with more events that promote their businesses.
“We would love to see more initiatives of this nature as they expose us to a large market we cannot ordinarily access,” Mahao said.
“I operate from a commercial building in town, so the only customers I get are people who already know me or those who happen to visit.”
In her keynote address, Tourism, Environment and Culture Minister Likeleli Tampane said preserving and promoting Basotho culture was the key to promoting Lesotho’s culture.
“The world has marked September as the month of tourism so we thought it would only benefit us if we started by promoting our culture,” said Minister Tampane.
“It is only though our culture that tourism can boom in Lesotho hence the Culture Week initiative. It starts with us Basotho taking pride in our culture and promoting it. Our culture remains Lesotho’s untapped gold since we have tourism destinations that will never fade.
“The premise of the Culture Week is to diversify the tourism product locally and internationally and reigniting the love for culture, music performance arts and social structure.”
She said local artists should leverage their unique talents to come up with products and services that can generate income and, in turn, create jobs.
The minister also urged Basotho to desist from alcohol and drug abuse, saying they had a negative impact on the economy and contributed to the spiralling HIV/AIDS infections. She said Lesotho’s 23 percent HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, which is only second to Swaziland in the world, reflected badly on the country hence the need to rein it in.