Maun based artist and cultural entrepreneur, Onalethuso Ntema popularly known as Mambo Ntema has been nominated for the 2023 Africa Tourism Leadership Awards under the Championing Sustainability Award category as a five finalist.
The award is recognises a destination, business, third sector organisation or policy that has made an outstanding contribution to conservation/ environmental protection and community development.
Ntema is nominated alongside the biggest tourism brands that include Wilderness Safaris, South Africa & Botswana, School of Wildlife Conservation – Africa Leadership University, Rwanda, African Wildlife Foundation, Kenya and Tswalu – The Motse, South Africa.
The awards are part of the Africa Tourism Leadership Forum, a Pan-African dialogue platform which brings together key stakeholders of Africa’s travel, tourism, hospitality and aviation sectors to network, share insights, and devise strategies for intra-Africa travel and tourism growth across the continent, whilst enhancing the brand equity of “Destination Africa’’. It is also the only Forum of its kind in Africa that highlights tourism as a major economic pillar to diversify African economies.
The event which will be held in Gaborone from the 4th-6th October 2023 is expected to attract 38 countries and 600 delegates.
In an interview, Ntema has said the nomination was influenced by his interest and pursuit of creative cultural enterprise sustainability. He believes that his background and experience with impact in the cultural landscape influenced his eligibility for nomination.
“I have developed a cultural tourism enterprise model for Chobe and Okavango, which profiles and packages cultural tourism activities for enhancing the tourist cultural experience and adventure,” he said.
Ntema revealed that he has worked with numerous community based entities such as conservation trusts and basket cooperatives in Chobe and Okavango Delta promoting and marketing the Chobe and Okavango baskets, basket weaving demonstrations and cultural tours. He added that as a Folklore-Jazz Musician with an acoustic and live band he also performs for tourists and clients in cultural exchange tours, cultural nights and storytelling.
“I feel honoured and grateful for the effort to make a difference towards cultural heritage management, creative cultural industry sustainability in tourism,” he said.
Ntema said that he feels strengthened to continue with enhancing his technical and professional skills in arts, culture and tourism. According to him, the ATFL and Awards 2023 nomination has broadened his cultural scope for sustainable tourism and increased his business profile as a cultural tourism agency.
He noted that the awards will enhance his creative arts profile, position his cultural experience activities in such demands from the world over, with increased client mobility to the Chobe and Okavango to explore and experience the cultural landscape of the wetlands communities. Ntema stated that the opportunity would not benefit him alone but a value chain, hence tourism product diversification, increased tourist length of stay and increased benefits to improve community livelihoods from the tourism value chain.
“I am currently in the Tourism Business Coaching and Mentorship Programme, through which I got an opportunity to attend and participate in the Business Tourism. I also attended the MICE Masterclass in July 2023 in Johannesburg SA and won a MICE knowledge book, thereafter got an invite to the Africa Tourism Leadership Forum and Awards 2023,” he said.
He appreciated Chobe Game Lodge, Desert and Delta Safaris, City and Cultural International DMC- Tshepiso Mganga, UNECSO Chairperson for Cultural Heritage and Sustainability Development, BDO South Africa, Africa Tourism Partners, Botswana Tourism Organization, AFRICANITES and OPN Group of Companies for their support and courageous elevations
Other local finalists include BTO which has been nominated under the Leading in Progressive Policies’ Award, Bakang Keimetswe of Afrigetaway has been nominated under the Outstanding Entrepreneurship Award, Mombo Camp is a finalist under the Outstanding Accommodation Facility / Group Award and the Minister of Environment and Tourism Phildah Kereng is a finalist under the Destination Africa – Lifetime Award.
The other awards categories include, Outstanding Africa Tourism Media & Marketing Award, Women in Leadership Award, Outstanding Tourism Transportation Award and Most Innovative Business Tourism Destination Award.