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Patayamatebele ideal for spiritual tourism

24 Oct 2022

Spiritual tourism is one of the many untapped growth paths locally.

Save for the Spiritual Healing Church members’ annual excursions to Marobela village for spiritual development and hideaway, Batswana are known for cross-border pilgrimages, especially to the neighbouring South Africa.

The Zion Christian Church (ZCC) pilgrimage is held annually in Moria in the Limpopo province, which attracts pilgrims from Botswana in their thousands is the case in point.

The Roman Catholic Francistown diocese wants to change the status quo and turn the little-known Patayamatebele village in the North East and about 81 kilometres from the second city into Botswana’s Mecca.

This is where they believe the first branch of the Catholic church was built after Khama III of the Bangwato was reluctant to welcome the denomination into his tribal land, forcing a group of Roman Catholic missionaries to traverse further in search of a place where they could be embraced and be given the latitude to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The ruins of graves of some of the priests who pioneered the church, a pyramid and the remains of many other important structures are strewn all over the place to the end that Reverend Bishop Anthony Rebello of the Francistown diocese told pilgrims Saturday that the church had resolved to develop the area and turn it into a place of retreat and spiritual enhancement for Catholics and other Batswana.

“We are working closely with the government of Botswana and are planning to build facilities here to make sure that people can come here anytime they want to enhance their spiritual growth.

If people go to places such as Burma, Fatima and others across the globe, we can also fulfil our dream to turn this place around and turn it into a spiritual retreat centre for the entire country for people to experience Jesus,” he said.

Old Tati, which was once upon a time a beehive of Gold mining before the rush of Gold in the South African mines, according to Bishop Rebello, remains the bedrock of the Catholic Church in Botswana as it is where the first priests settled and began evangelical work.

He categorically stated, therefore, that the Roman Catholics had a solid spiritual connection with Patayamatebele that dates back to 1879.

“Maruping go a boelwa, go sa boelweng ke maleng,” he said giving a brief history of the place about the denomination.

Archbishop Frank Nubuasah of Gaborone diocese said the pilgrimage was a spiritual sojourn that accorded Christians time and space to interface with their God with minimal disruptions.

“This is an important moment to re-connect with your spiritual ancestors and amass a lot of spiritual experience and growth that will help you in your spiritual journey,” he said.

The Archbishop also challenged the leadership of Patayamatebele to encourage residents to join the church in their droves so that they could benefit from some of the services that the denomination provided.

Patayamatebele village development commitee chairperson, Mr Moses Likuni, who spoke on behalf of kgosi expressed optimism that the annual pilgrimage would challenge the church to speed up developing the area; something he said would have a snowball effect on the socio-economic landscape of the area.

“Bagaetsho ha gongwe fa o utlwa go twe motse o ke wa ntlha gore baperesita ba kereke ya Roma ba gorogele mo go one ga re o tsholole dikeledi. Mme gongwe go tla fa ga lona go tlaa le rotloetsa go tlhokomela peo e bakaulengwe ba lona ba pele ba e jadileng fa.

Le tswelele ka go diragatsa toro ya bone ya go tlhabolola motho le go mo ruta lefoko la Modimo.

Re tlaa le fa lefelo le le tlaa thibelela mo go lone,” he said expressing hope that the church’s renewed vigour would bring goodwill to the village.

The chairperson of Francistown diocese, Mr Boniface Mpofu, who also on behalf of the church presented  Patayamatebele Primary School with gifts, was happy that the leadership of the church had taken a positive stand to set up facilities at the ruins.

This year’s pilgrimage was held under the theme; Stay With Us on Our Journey of Life.

Besides the many church rituals that packed the agenda for the day; scintillating sounds from the church choir had the entire congregation dancing amid sweltering temperatures. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Mooketsi Mojalemotho

Location : FRANCISTOWN -

Event : Feature

Date : 24 Oct 2022