The local ancillary of Social Transformation and Empowerment Project (STEPS), recently cast some light into the dark realities of corrupt practices by multinational companies operating in African countries, at a film screening session in Gaborone.
STEPS Botswana was established back in October 2015 following an extensive training session with STEPS trainers.
However last week at the film-screening of ‘Stealing Africa’, a docu-film which was shot in Zambia showing how multinational companies loot African countries of their wealth, attendants were immediately able to link local realities to what was being shown on the film.
The post-screening discussion gave the audience an opportunity to discuss the horrific realities of the aftermath of the closure of the BCL Mine as well as the Tati Nickel mine.
Speaking to The Voice, STEPS Botswana coordinator Gase Sengwaketse shared, “this was something of an eye opener as people began to question why the rush to close the mine, who bought it or was buying it, for how much and how much profit the buyer is set to make while many Batswana families have been left without breadwinners due to the closure of the mine.”
One of the main objectives of STEPS, Sengwaketse said, is to use documentary film in facilitated screenings for raising community awareness regarding burning issues such as poverty and HIV&AIS.
“We use film as a learning and advocacy tool in that we have facilitators who are trained to turn the experience of watching a film into action…this they do by facilitating post screening discussions and encouraging audience members to commit themselves to taking some form of action following the film screening and discussions…even if that action is simply sharing knowledge and info from the screening with family and/or friends,” she explained.
Apart from last week’s film screening, STEPS Botswana has formed partnerships with BORNUS (Botswana Retired Nurses Society), other NGOs such as Women in Action, (Kanye: BOCAIP, Humana People to People, BNF/UDC), CEYOHO, U.S. Peace Corps Botswana, numerous HIV&AIDS support groups including Leretlhabetse in Rakops and Fatehood in Mmadinare as well as District AIDS Coordinator’s offices.
But one of the major project STEPS has undertaken is the ‘Why Democracy?’ (WD) and ‘Why Poverty?’ (WP) initiative. The WD and WP films were introduced in 2010 and 2012 respectively and are mainly been adopted by political organizations such as the Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
Asked on some of the challenges the local organization faced, Sengwaketse fingered at the lack of resources.
STEPS is a non-profit organization that, for the past 15 years, has been using socially relevant documentary film to educate, campaign and empower.
It specifically functions as an entity for the development of communication projects that give a voice to marginalized and disadvantaged communities.
Its primary mission to date has been to run an extensive outreach programme across Southern African and other parts of the world, using documentary films to explore and stimulate interest and concern around burning issues within communities.
To achieve this, STEPS has developed its own methodology of facilitated screenings that are planned and implemented to reach specifically targeted audiences.