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Kavimba holds to its cultural practices

29 Mar 2022

Unlike anywhere else in Chobe District, the small village of Kavimba still holds dear to its heart a beautiful yet eccentric way of conduct during proceedings held at the local kgotla. 

The Basubiya of Kavimba, like any tribe that attaches great pride and significance to its cultural identity, are standing resolute in their quest to not let modernisation steal the shine off some of the key cultural practices that have for decades set them apart from the rest of the population. 

The intricacies of the beauty of their culture came to the fore recently when the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Review of the Constitution visited the village for consultations, when in setting the tone for the day’s meeting, Mr Sinka Kanyenvu, the gentleman directing the proceedings announced what would transpire the moment he heralded the arrival of the village’s chief into the kgotla shelter. 

Fa kgosi a tsena ga re nne mo ditilong, ke boleo. Yo o sa khubamang e tlaa bo e le ene kgosi,” he explains, alerting the visitors how culture dictates that in their kgotla each person in attendance should fall to their knees in reverence to the kgosi when he walks in. 

Mr Kanyenvu explains that the practice, seen only in Kavimba in all of Chobe is a sign of respect for the kgosi, and is one of those through which morafe affirms the significance of his position as head of the tribe. 

Of even greater significance, he tells the audience, is the supremacy of the village’s bogosi over that of the rest of the villages of the Chobe region hence the Kavimba kgosi is recognised as the Munitenge or paramount chief of all of Basubiya. 

Kgosi’s wife or mohumagadi, also an important figure in the finely knitted fabric that a tribe usually is, is similarly received into the kgotla in some beautifully choreographed manner. Arriving moments before her husband does, Ms Mulwazi Sinvula is ushered in by a small procession of three women, two walking ahead of her and one behind. 

When the little convoy is about ten steps towards the kgotla entrance, those seated inside begin clapping rhythmically with cupped hands while the quartet walks in and takes their seats. 

This, Ms Mubuso Kakambi (who sits next to this reporter and shares insights as the day’s proceedings unfold) explains is a sign of respect to moolyi, as mohumagadi is called in the local vernacular. 

Ms Kakambi says moolyi is the equivalent for queen, and that to them as Basubiya of Kavimba, the position and role of the kgosi’s wife are not merely ceremonial hence the morafe holds their mohumagadi in the highest regard. 

Moments after the clapping of hands welcoming mohumagadi has died down, Mr Kanyenvu signals at the arrival of Kgosi Lawrence Sinvula III, who like his wife earlier walks in in a small file of four. 

It is then that all, in unison drop to their knees, and while some also bow slightly, a chorus of claps of cupped palms breaks out and remains in song until Kgosi Sinvula takes to his seat. 

This here is in sharp contrast to anywhere the constitutional review commission has so far been to, where the commission’s leadership and part of its secretariat were being walked into the dikgotla by the respective dikgosi. 

In Kavimba, after reporting to Kgosi Sinvula’s office for the usual briefing that precedes the meetings, former chief justice, Mr Maruping Dibotelo who heads the commission walks into the kgotla with his team, before mohumagadi and kgosi could finally be received into the leobo or kgotla shelter for the proceedings to start. 

When Kgosi Sinvula takes to the podium to welcome the visitors to his kgotla and village, members of the audience kneel and clap again, as the director of the day’s programme had explained that whenever the kgosi rises from his seat he should be afforded his usual sign of respect. 

Kgosi Sinvula prefaces his remarks by pleading with his subjects to pardon him for breaking away from tradition and addressing them while standing. 

Mme ka gore o nkopile motsamaisa-tiro gore ke tle ke eme fa, le nna ke eletsa nka kopa morafe ka gore ga re a tlwaela gore nka le buisa ke eme ka dinao, jaanong le ntetle ke amogele morafe o o fano le baeng,” he says. It is at this point that Ms Kakambi explains that in Kavimba, no one speaks standing in the kgotla as that is viewed as a sign of disrespect for the kgotla itself as well as for those in attendance. 

While Kgosi Sinvula addresses the meeting, Ms Kakambi signals at the entrance where two gentlemen are on their knees clapping, and explains that every late arrival is expected to do the needful and render to the kgosi the respect due to him. At a point in the programme where residents are given the opportunity to submit their proposals for the review of the constitution, some speakers occasionally kneel and bow before the kgosi and make the signature clap of hands before they could air their views. 

Later in an interview, a village elder, Mr Robertson Mabuta explains that Veekuhane or Basubiya are a tribe that views their kgotla as a highly respectable place hence the practices that are done there. 

Upon observation earlier that there was no ululation in the kgotla as is usually the case in other places, Ms Kakambi had said the clapping of hands is the equivalent of mogolokwane and that the latter is therefore not allowed. 

Mr Mabuta however refuted this, and expressed his shock that the women had not broken into mogolokwane when Mohumagadi Sinvula walked in. 

“The problem with womenfolk is that they are forgetful. 

Those women were supposed to have broken into ululation when mohumagadi walked in, but I reckon they simply forgot,” he said with a look of disbelief on what had happened. 

Attendants at the kgotla meeting featured a group of women who wore the same outfits as mohumagadi, and shedding light on those, one of them, Ms Lillian Porote explains the group as the brainchild of Ms Sinvula and says it comprises married women only, though its membership would eventually be opened up to the rest of the women in the village. 

She said the objective of the group is to coordinate the activities of the village’s women and enhance the level at which they participate in activities taking place in the village. Ms Porote says the group’s other objective is to champion the resuscitation and promotion of cultural practices that are at risk of going extinct. ends

Source : BOPA

Author : Keonee Kealeboga

Location : KAVIMBA

Event : Interview

Date : 29 Mar 2022