Acclaimed Artist Bholoja Speaks Out Against Cultural Boycott’s Targeting of MTN BUSHFIRE

 As the SSN continues to urge artists to pull out of this year’s MTN BUSHFIRE, award-winning artist Bholoja offers his opinions on the fallacious aims of the cultural boycott.


As is well known, the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) is actively calling for artists to pull out of this year’s MTN BUSHFIRE festival, in line with its unofficial call for cultural boycott of the country. MTN BUSHFIRE believes the cultural boycott’s targeting of the festival is decidedly misguided, and works to undo the festival’s efforts of unparalleled charity, constructive discussion, and artistic celebration. Indeed, the boycott compromises the multiple humanitarian aims of the festival, and ignorantly levels political protest against an independent artistic celebration. The boycott does not consider the social awareness and initiatives of MTN BUSHFIRE; it fails to recognize the festival’s unprecedented support for AIDS affected orphans, and ignores infrastructural additions such as the Barn that encourage progressive discourse on social events. Most importantly, the boycott works to limit cross-cultural interaction and dissolve international integration, a concept that is wholly oppositional towards the expansive aims of the arts.


MTN BUSHFIRE asked award-winning Swazi artist Bholoja to comment on the boycott’s targeting of the festival – Bholoja and his manager, Mike Temple, both had input regarding the boycott, opinions that they stressed emphatically:


Mike: “Boycotting a cultural event without knowing why, based on false perceptions about the link between the arts and the politics of a nation, is absolutely wrong. Everyone is free to make decisions based on their personal choice, but if you wish to culturally boycott Swaziland, including the MTN BUSHFIRE Festival, first obtain a personal, engaged opinion about Swaziland. Get to know the people, the culture, the atmosphere, what it’s really like, rather than what you read or hear from afar. If you still wish to boycott the festival after learning about the remarkable people that attend, sponsor, and perform in the festival, exercise a boycott in all spheres of the nation: politics, economics, business, media, and so on. It makes no sense to directly, solely target the nation’s outlet of artistic beauty and expression.”


“We as Swazis should make a conscious decision to not allow any of those artists who boycott Swaziland airtime on our radio stations”


Bholoja: “The boycott is very unfair, not only to the musicians and spectators, but also to the people that benefit from the festival’s profits: AIDS affected orphans living in child-headed households in Swaziland.”


“The people conducting the boycott are uninformed. We are not doing [MTN] Bushfire just for fun – there’s a mission behind the festival, and [MTN] Bushfire is one of the major keys to helping orphans in Swaziland. The festival helps to contribute to tangible change in the present and future of Swaziland.”


“The boycott is also unfair to the artist, because it robs them of the environment that inspires their art. Artists are messengers for peace and change, and by limiting the world

that the artist experiences, the boycott similarly limits the artist’s ability to address social issues.”




As the heat waves disappear and the cold nights set in, stay warm by dancing the night away, bundling up with a friend, and BRINGING YOUR FIRE to this year’s MTN BUSHFIRE in Malkerns, Swaziland! Purchase your key to this festival through MTN Service Centres in Simunye, Mbabane, Manzini, Matsapha, and the Gables, through MTN Mobile Money, or at www.bushfire.co.sz. Get your tickets to this miraculous event today!

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