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Nkashi wows Maun

08 Mar 2023

Following its successful premiere in Maun, last Tuesday, the new feature-length documentary Nkashi: Race for the Okavango will air on Btv 1 today at 8 pm.

Through the documentary three Batswana mokoro polers Gobonamang “GB” Kgetho of Seronga, Tjadza “Pretty” Tapologo of Boro and Nkeletsang Ralf Moshupa of Jao Flats share the story of living in the Okavango Delta waters as polers to make ends meet and as custodians of Botswana tourism.

The trio also shares with the viewers, their experience of competing in the Nkashi Classic race, a duel that seeks to crown the fastest poler in Botswana. Nkashi is a Seyei word which refers to a pole that steers mokoro.

The film is made possible by the National Geographic Society’s Impact Story Lab in collaboration with a team of Botswana filmmakers, composers and artists, supported by DeBeers Botswana. 

It opens with a distinctive hoarse yet delicate voice of Thato Kavinja aka Koolkat Motjiko or Mr Seronga a local artist also from the Okavango singing.

One of the polers, GB emerges lighting a candle in his house in Seronga followed by his silhouette as he exits the house carrying Nkashi. 

It is the humour that moves the audience as they burst into laughter at the colloquialism of the people of the Okavango saying “Re tsile go tika, ke gonee,’

However, the mood quickly turns sombre  as the story unpacks a heart-wrenching revelation of how GB lost his father in the Okavango waters. 

GB’s father had been pivotal in his path to become a poler. On the bright side, Pretty recounts how thrilling yet risky it is to navigate through the Okavango Delta waters in the midst of hippos and crocodiles and teases that one gets used to it and coexist happily with them.  ‘’Dikubu wa ditwaela hela o bo o tshela le tsone mo metsing (one strikes a cordial relationship with hippos and lives happily with them).

In an interview, one of the film producers, also part of National Geographic Society team Thalefang Charles was delighted that the film celebrated mokoro polers, particularly their stories in their own language. 

“Films made in the Okavango Delta have rarely told stories of its extraordinary people who have been protecting our water, wildlife and traditions since the beginning of time,” said Charles.

Koolkat Motyiko aka Mr Seronga expressed gratitude to the National Geographic Society for having used his music in the feature film. 

“It is an honour for me to have my music as sound track of this film. It gave me an opportunity to extend my storytelling as well as broaden my career as a musician,” he noted.

Nkashi:Race for the Okavango also highlights how the three polers find themselves faced with the impacts of climate change in their locality and urge the community to preserve the tradition of the mokoro for the next generation.

The film celebrates the people of Okavango, their cultural heritage and traditional knowledge and their commitment to preserving the Okavango Delta through the Nkashi race story. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Portia Ikgopoleng and Ketshepile More

Location : MAUN

Event : Documentary

Date : 08 Mar 2023