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Seperu receives P1.2 million funding from UNESCO ICH Fund

20 Nov 2023

Seperu custodians, folk dancers and associated practitioners are beaming with joy after receiving a P1.2 million shot in the arm from the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Fund.

The funds are for the sustaining and safeguarding of Seperu folk dance and associated practices following its listing as ICH by UNESCO in 2019 and underscore the commitment of UNESCO in safeguarding culture. 

This boost came just weeks prior to the 18th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the ICH billed for Kasane on December 4-9.

Unveiling the funding in Kasane recently, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture Tebogo Matebesi said Seperu was a beautiful dance that showcased talent and song that captured the essence of Veekuhane community. 

Veekuhane community is a combination of Basubiya, Bayeyi, Bambukushu and Basarwa tribes, who are custodians of Seperu folk dance.

He said UNESCO supported ICH and provided guidance and expertise on the best way to preserve this cultures through documentation, knowledge sharing, storytelling and performances. 

Matebesi stated that this funding would be managed by the ministry to assist and facilitate the Seperu association to share knowledge and form school clubs and teach Seperu folk dance.

Furthermore, he said the funds would also help the association conduct extensive research and write books and produce visual materials that could be shared even beyond borders digitally. He advised the association to copyright Seperu; the beat, nuances, dance, clothes, clapping so that everyone who used it for commercial purposes would pay royalties. 

He highlighted that evolution and digitilisation had shown the world that there was benefit in commercialisation of culture and cited Nigerian Afrobeats, which he said had penetrated the rest of the world and making waves in the music and entertainment industry.

“Let’s see the Basubiya’s moshishi (traditional dress) worn everywhere during cultural events as we see leteisi and also feature it in music videos or global fashion shows.” He said.

He indicated that there was a risk in popularising culture as some tend to dilute it and spoil it,  adding that Seperu association should be able to capture the true essence and authentic Seperu in its documentation.

Seperu association chairperson, Manga Porote stated that the injected funds were a motivation to them as a new association formed in January 2023. 

She indicated that the funds would help them facilitate registration of the association, having already drafted the constitution. 

The chairperson said the association had knowledgeable researchers who worked tirelessly to ensure they documented Seperu.

Porote said their vision was to preserve Seperu for future generations and share it with the rest of the world and even copyright it to cash on royalties. 

The chairperson said Seperu was a rich representation of Veekuhane culture as a form of story telling through song and dance. Porote thanked Dikgosi in Chobe district  for their support in formation of the association and being the custodians of Seperu, which catalyzed its listing by UNESCO in 2019.

In his remarks, Plateau Kgosi Tshegofatso Samoka stated that the funding marked a great milestone for the Veekuhane community who had preserved their culture for years. 

He said the funding would go a long way in ensuring that Seperu was safeguarded for generations to come and also share it with the rest of the world through documentation. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Portia Ikgopoleng

Location : KASANE

Event : Celebration - Heritage fund

Date : 20 Nov 2023