No influencers were paid to attend AfroPunk fest in New York — says Gauteng Tourism Authority.

Following my THREAD on Twitter about influencers being paid to attend the Afropunk Festival in Brooklyn, New York, I had a chat with Head of Destination Promotions and Marketing at Gauteng Tourism Authority, Barba Gaoganediwe. 

Full disclosure, prior to my post I called Barba and the GTA office and received no response. The call was to verify the information I had that money was spent but judging by my own observation the engagement was lacklustre.

During my chat with Mr Gaoganediwe two things were established. According to him, no-one was contracted to do any promotion work in NY. He says many of the people they engaged with at the festival were either US based or came there on their own cost. 

Mr Gaoganediwe further stated that, the engagement they had with the influencers at the festival were on a voluntarily basis.  No-one was paid to be there or be part of the work the GTA was doing there. 

The second issue is my assertion that there was no coverage and social media engagements around the event. To that, Mr Gaoganediwe bemoaned that my expectations of the events in that regard were misplaced.  

He states that since there was no set engagement plan for the event and much of the work they were going to do at Afropunk was about building connections for long term prospects, he sees no need to have had any social media reports beyond what he shared on his page and that of the sponsors. 

"There was no target for engagement" says Mr Gaoganediwe, explaining that all the social media posts that came from the event from the SA group that was there were solely of their own volition and not an expectation from GTA as they were not contracted to do so. 

He said that he is happy with the work they did in NY and believes the foundation they laid for further partnerships and commitments will yield desired effects in due course and he does not believe such processes should be splashed on social media as it might jeopardise the negotiations around terms.

He said media and public engagements on the achievements of such initiatives will be made public in due course.


If you read my Twitter timeline or blog, you know I have always made it clear that I do not see my views as the gospel. I have also mentioned that I know my platform carries weight and thus what I share has implications on people's jobs. When I am wrong, I will correct such information because of that.

Barba Gaoganediwe and I spoke cordially over the phone for over 30 minutes, during which we agreed and disagreed.

On the issue of engagement, that is where he and I hold totally different views. I respect that details of the deals and negotiations stuck in NY can be private but I take issue with having a South African delegation in New York at an big festival like that and there was no real social media engagement beyond what few info was shared on official platforms.

Furthermore, I find it perplexing that the organisation did not find it pertinent to send out information on what they did there and how it will impact their plans going forward. Just some information so we as the public know that the trip was a working trip.

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