The festival of fun

The second edition of the annual Okavango Delta Music Festival has been set for 29 August to September 1.

Held at the remote Tsutsubega settlement, a 40-minute drive from Maun, the festival has attracted a stellar cast, with local legends Shanti Lo, Mpho Sebina and Sereetsi and Natives all lined-up to perform.

Zimbabwean acts such as Dzembe Monks and the Flying Bantu add international flair to the event.

This week, festival organiser, Sophie Dandridge tells FRANCINAH BAAITSE-MMANA a bit more about this music spectacle situated on a magnificent island in the floodplains of the Okavango Delta swamps.

Dandridge promises revellers three days of stunning scenery, blissful fun and top class entertainment.

Q. Tell us about the coming music festival?

A. The Okavango Music Festival is an annual event that takes place every last weekend of August in Tsutsubega.

It is about 40 minutes drive on a sandy road from Maun.

It’s a very interesting event.

Q. How does it benefit Tsutsubega community?

A. The point of the music festival is to uplift the Tsutsubega community, to provide employment for them and to bring music and tourism into their area and give them some alternatives.

Some of them provide camping facilities for the festival goers.

During the festival, we have about 20 artists, bands, DJs and performers.

It is very popular, we had it last year and about 500 hundred people attended.

This year we are aiming for 1, 000 people; so it is small and intimate but it’s really good fun.

Q. Is it an adult or family themed event?

A. There is a food court, there are bars and lots of other side activities, but it is very family friendly so lots of children can come.

We have a children’s themed camp – it is called ‘Make Space’.

There is lots of creativity where children make things and there is a lot to entertain them.

There is an outdoor cinema for the children as well, so there is plenty going on and adults can enjoy the music and dancing at the bar.

It is really a fun festival.

Q. Since the festival runs for a whole weekend, is there accommodation for those travelling from far?

A. It is in the bush, on a rustic beautiful island and in the middle of the flat plains. There is no building, no hotel and no bed and breakfast.

People bring their own camping facilities – you bring your own tent, your own bedding and pitch it in the beautiful forest and the campsite, which we built for festival goers.

If it is not your ‘thing’ to camp, then we have service providers who will set up camp for you.

There are different levels of accommodation in terms of standard as well as the luxury, VIP.

VIP is a very beautiful, merry tent with real beds, en-suite toilet, torch and staff to clean up your tent and do the showers for you.

If you really want a glamorous camping option then we have that as well, but if you do not want to pay anything and you want to only experience everything then you bring all your own things.

Q. Which artists have you booked to perform?

A. We have a great line up this year.

Lots of Botswana artists, including Shanti Lo, Mpho Sebina, Sereetsi and Natives and a few more, so we are very excited about that.

We have also invited artists from Zimbabwe, like the Dzembe Monks, the Flying Bantu, Arcades, Evicted and some artists coming from South Africa as well.

Q. Briefly tell us a bit about the history behind the festival?

A. It is an annual event and we had our very first festival last year August.

It was a test, to see if people would be interested and if we could help the community through it and it was a great success.

We hired many locals from Tsutsubega community to help out and they made a lot of money.

As you may be aware, there are no employment opportunities in that area so they were happy to make a few bucks.

Q. Sounds good….

A. The festival helps the community of Tsutsubega derive direct economic benefit from environmental tourism through the campsites, and employment at the festival.

The main community projects that the Festival implements include a literacy programme and stimulation centre, a reed straw project and also the ‘Feed a Child Botswana’ initiative to ensure the children in the community receive at least one nutritious meal a day.

Q. Are tickets on sale yet?

A. Tickets are sold online.

You can go to our website,

On the website, under the menu ‘tickets’, there is a whole range of options where they can buy tickets in Gaborone or Johannesburg or Vic Falls in Zimbabwe, Maun or Francistown.

We have made tickets available all over the place, even in Namibia.

Merchandise, including t-shirts and caps are also on sale.

Q. Besides the music festival, what else do you do?

A. I run a little cafe in Maun, called Tshilli Cafe.

I also have a lodge, called Tshilli Farm Lodge, which I run with my husband, Adrian, in Tsutsubega.

That is how we got involved with the community of Tsutsubega.

That is about it.

We are conservationists, we are farmers, we run a few little businesses as well.

Q. So you are family woman?

A. Yes we have two kids: Anna who is 12 and Nicholas who is just turning 11.

They school at Matshwane in Maun, so we have a lot of family time together.

Q. Sounds blissful – finally, Thank God it’s Friday, what are you up to this weekend?

A. This Friday we are having a big party at Tshilli Cafe.

We are flying up one of the DJ’s from the music festival from Cape Town to come and play for us tomorrow night at the cafe.

So we like a good party as well. I like music!

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