At the recent Western Kgalagadi Cultural Association Festival (WKCAF), Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) Chief Executive Officer, Myra Sekgororoane, spoke about the government’s support of culture and sport initiatives that could be used to increase tourism in Botswana. This is in line with the government’s desire to diversify tourism products.
Sekgororoane mentioned certain sport and cultural events that could attract tourists to Botswana. These included the Domboshaba Cultural Festival, the Kuru Cultural Festival, the Dithubaruba Cultural Festival, the WKCAF and the Gaborone Marathon.
The annual Domboshaba Cultural Festival was held in October this year. During this festival, the Bakalanga, other ethnic groups and tourists gather together and celebrate the Kalanga language. Held in Domboshaba in the North East district, the festival attracts visitors from all over the world, including United Bible Translators and Zimbabwean Kalangas.
The renowned Kuru Dance Festival is the traditional dance festival of the Basarwa organised by the Kuru Cultural Center. Since 1997, the three-day festival has annually celebrated the cultural heritage of Botswana’s first people, known also as the San or Bushmen. The festival is held in D’Kar, just north of Ghanzi in the Kalahari Desert. Those watching the Basarwa perform might be surprised to see them replace their traditional clothing with regular street clothes once the festival is over. However, these street clothes are testament to how this group of people have had to change their lifestyles. Southern Africa’s original inhabitants and synonymous with the Kalahari Desert, the San have been forced out of their homes by settlements and animal preservations and have had to find means other than traditional hunting and gathering to support their families. After 300, 000 years, their traditions are fading, which is why festivals like these are important as they encourage respect for different cultures.
The annual Dithubaruba Festival showcases the Bakwena culture. The festival is named after a heritage site west of Molepolole where the Bakwena waged war against the Boers. Dithubaruba is also the name of a burial site for one of the Bakwena chiefs, Kgosi Kgosidintsi. The festival, now four years old, starts and ends with tradition. Traditional dancing and poetry is on display, traditional attire is worn by participants and traditional cuisine is served. It is held at the Kgosi Sechele Museum. Once a police station, the building was renovated and re-opened as a museum by the community. Now the museum hosts a number of community activities including art classes and marimba classes for children and possesses a collection of books about the Bakwena and other tribes.
The Western Kgalagadi Cultural Association is a new cultural group that has been formed by members of villages in the region. Botswana’s first WKCAF ever took place this year in Kang and was hosted by the association and Conservation International (CI). The festival aims to promote, preserve and showcase the Sesarwa (San) and Sekgalagadi (Shengologa) cultures. Viewers are able to see different aspects of tsutsube San dancing, the making of traditional crafts, San healing dances and the ngwale initiation ceremony which welcomes young girls into womanhood. According to Isang Pilane of CI, the festival will complement the internationally acclaimed Kuru San Dance Festival.
The Gabarone City Marathon, which first occurred in April this year, is the second of its kind in Botswana, after the annual Bosele Marathon in Selebi-Phikwe, which has been Botswana’s flagship long distance route in the past. The 42.2 kilometre Gaborone Marathon begins and ends at the Phakalane Golf Estate, just northeast of Gaborone. There is also a 10 kilometre and 4 kilometre race. The marathon is divided by gender and each gender race is divided into three categories based on age. Winners of each category of the marathon wins 10 000 Botswana pula.
These cultural and sporting events attract both international and local visitors, who can take part in the events and celebrate Botswana’s unique mix of culture and peoples.