Africa’s youth being considered as the future is not only a tired cliché but a clear misstatement. Listening and engaging with the speakers from yesterday  are evidently shaping and re-imagining their environment through use of futuristic concepts enabled through theories of technology. These theories are further expanded today in the power of creative critical thinking through Neo Mashigo, Mpho Twala, George Matsheke garnished with a panel session. In a nutshell, it is not about having an idea – but rather a critically thought idea that disrupts the market.

The second day of the Ideas Expo Kick started with the embodiment of creativity Neo Mashigo, giving an enthralling talk on his experience, sharing clips of all the works he has worked on and is currently working on. Sharing how he conceptualized his talent through collaborative effort (in working with I see a different you) in various projects and advertising campaigns. Together they have handled radio, audio-visual and outdoor ads for most of the major brands in SA from DSTV, Vodacom, National Lottery, Toyota Prius, Metro FM – Neo particularly being the brains behind creative adverts that shifted into influencing the pop culture of South Africa (South Africans would immediately remember Vodacom’s “nighshift” ad and DSTV #nicelifeproblems) The most fascinating aspect of all the works shared was of the collaborative effort in involving and incorporating most aspect of the creative elements from song, dance, theater and comedy in telling a story that captivates the consumer and grows brand value exponentially. ‘An advert needs to tell a story, it has to be memorable and incorporate the right elements of creativity to deliver an impactful message’ explained Mashigo.

To elaborate on how changing one aspect of an advert in pleasing the client, Mashigo shared an experience on the much popular Cadbury advert of the drum playing gorilla in changing the message delivery. With only a few slight alterations in accordance to the client’s need, including a small voice over, camera focus and a slight message, the final product made created an effective disruption in the eyes of the consumer.

Neo Mashigo was followed by George Matsheke of Marvins Magazine (a digital platform that celebrates men doing well in their respective fields. Matsheke’s story proves the power of inter-connected black empowerment, as he is a laureate of DJ Fresh’s scholarship to pursue his dream career. Matsheke advised the creatives in the audience to   ‘give your idea nurturing time, own it and it will ripen organically’.

Often we forget that building a brand takes time, money, the right relationships and heightened levels of commitment. It is easy to forget this through the constant glamorization of entrepreneurship. ‘’What they never tell you is of the many times that you have woken up and said Eff (****) this I don’t want to do this anymore. However, you need to show up for your dream every single day you cannot do it part-time’.  An admirable man, I listened attentively as he shared his vision for this thriving business interests and reiterated that digital is not dead and there are a lot of opportunities we just need to listen to what people want and give them that instead of shoving them with information not relevant to them (sic) which he reckons is the reason Marvins magazine, radio show and event is gaining a lot of momentum. I loved his energy and radical thinking approach to believing and pushing his dream and making it a reality. Matsheke gave advice to all creative bloggers to find their niche, understand their audience, know when to post( and be consistent), how to package your blog, establish lasting relationships with photographers or editors  and all doors of opportunities will open up.

Steering into a panel discussion embodied by Mrs Yoddit from Barclays Bank of Botswana and Mr El-Kindy of RMC marketing. Mr El-Kindly spoeaspects of giving back to the community and that if we don’t give back there is no growth. ‘But there is more to just giving its important to know what to do, where and how to empower people to give back to the community exclaimed Mrs Yoddit calling for the intricate balance in measuring CSR efforts because some yield short-term results and others take a bit more time to pick’. However there is an over commercialization of charitable efforts when it comes to businesses, which requires guidelines and policies to steer CSR efforts effectively.

Yoddit is part of a committee that wishes to establish the principles to guide CSR efforts in Botswana to build, develop and create the necessary growth to drive our economy and empower the nation. El kindly further propagated that every human being is responsible for doing good for the community.  Botswana is fortunate enough to have a highly educated nation, what are you doing with your education to make a relevant change to enriching and empowering the nation? He tasked the audience – sending the discussion into a coffee break, digesting the conversation.

Following the break, Mpho Twala of #VelocityAfrica gave a fantastic presentation of the works he has done and his unwavering passion for filmmaking to tell uniquely African stories. Well travelled and an advocate for creative collaborations, he has worked on many campaigns and dropped many wisdom gems on the power of having the right partner, listening to your client, not being afraid to try something new but mostly staying grounded to yourself and your creative. “Write your idea, shoot it, put it out there and wait for the response” remarked Twala urging the creatives to unleash their talents.

Tying in the entire expo in one simple notion, Festus Maskwaneng reminded the audience on the significance of humility. Often, with accolades and successes entrepreneurs begin to use accolades as inflated status that separates them from people. Maskwaneng reminded us to constantly remain humble and grounded throughout our creative journeys.

Notwithstanding a few delays in the program and technical logistics affecting the smooth proceedings, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the expo, gained insightful knowledge and networked with people living in Botswana that are working on being the change and are eager to push tools and resources to make sure the creative industry grows and get recognition in Botswana and the continent.

It goes without saying that there needs to be an immediate change to the status quo of the creative industry in Botswana we must start at the micro level , as individuals striving to make a change that will benefit our community and then seek our passionate, driven and dedicated partners to collaborative with across the creative spectrum.