Breaking News

Batshweneneng retrace footsteps back to their roots

27 May 2024

Saturday 25th May will go down the annuls of history as a memorable day for Batlharo tribe in Tsabong district who celebrated their rich, radiant and vibrant cultural heritage during the inaugural Batshweneng Cultural Festival at Maubelo to retrace footsteps back to their roots. 

In their midst was the Assistant Minister for State President, Ms Boitumelo Gofhamodimo, who appreciated their unique cultural and traditional elements.

She implored them to collectively align their outstanding cultural and traditional practices with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation 2003 convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), which calls for communities to safeguard their practices. She said in the phase of changing global dynamics, it was pertinent to protect their practices so that they were not eroded. 

She implored Batlharo and other tribes to take a leaf from the tribes that documented and safeguarded their cultural elements under ICH.

Communities in Kgatleng had started to protect their music- dikhwaere, as well as moropa wa bojale jwa Sekgatla. In the Chobe, they protected the Seperu dance. Therefore, other communities should follow suit to protect the integrity of their cultural practices. 

She underscored that celebrations such as the Batshweneng Cultural Festival preserved cultural heritage, adding that they must be packaged such that they could draw international attention by attracting performers from outside the country and also send artists outside the country around the world. 

“This is how culture becomes important for socio-economic development; it becomes an important aspect for nation building and cohesion, improving livelihoods at family and national level,” she said. Ms Gofhamodimo said government was committed to developing the arts and culture, which has great potential for drawing in gains as such government has earmarked eight sectors and the creative and sport sectors have been included and as such communities must be alive to the bountiful opportunities in the arts and culture as well as unparalleled indigenous knowledge passed on from generation to generation. 

She added that Maubelo had unique leather works skills and as such it was critical to protect the knowledge and use them for economic value, and create employment opportunities for communities. The Assistant Minister commended Batlharo for taking the initiative to start the Batshweneng Cultural Festival, which she said would be held annually and was a reflection that they are eager to showcase the diverse cultural tapestry that defines Batshweneng as a people, “a living testament of your commitment to bettering traditions passing ancestral wisdom and celebrating the vibrancy of your culture,” she said. She appreciated Batshweneng from South Africa who had graced the occasion, which was a testament that people are interrelated across borders, which was a unifier. She thus appreciated Bomme ba Batshweneng for being torch bearers of culture by taking the lead in kick-starting the event. 

In support of the noble initiative, she said, the Ministry for State President contributed P100, 000 towards the festival as a demonstration of government support for promotion of culture. Kgosi Philip Lorekang said the inaugural festival was the beginning of great things to come to preserve the culture of Batlharo whose totem is Tshwene. He said the time had come for them to revive their culture to instill it in the younger generations. Such development, he noted, presented an opportune time for them to hear oral traditions of origins of the Batshweneng. 

Maubelo Kgosi queen mother, Kebaetse Lorekang said the festival was the brain child of Bomme ba Batshweneng association with the main objective of fostering strong community ties, social and community development and preserving the Batshweneng cultural heritage, as well as use indigenous knowledge for sustainable economic empowerment in the community. Ms Lorekang highlighted that their target was to build solidarity and support, foster ties, networks, relations and support each other in good times and in bad times, as well as instill BOTHO, which is the core of humanity. 

Batlharo Kgosi Pule Bareki from the Northern Cape, South Africa, called for the traditional value system of ‘meila’ to be reinstated as it could assist in curbing current social ills. He said Batlharo must retrace their footsteps by activating traditional initiation schools. 

He said some view such as conformist and barbaric but they could help if resuscitated. He added that in South Africa they still have cultural schools and that in November they shall hold an initiation ceremony for Batlharo and thus called for Batlharo in Botswana to go and learn traditional ways so that upon their return they will have ample knowledge, which could be useful. 

He underpinned that, “we must not look down upon initiation schools as they are part of our traditional value system, including traditional doctors.” Kgosi David Toto of Tsabong, who was absent on official engagements, sent a solidarity message calling for Batshweneng to remain united. He appreciated that pluralistic tribes existed in the Tsabong district but have found a way to peacefully coexist with each other and there were no inter-tribal wars. Kgosi Toto said Batshweneng were among the earliest Tswana speaking tribes to come into contact with European settlers. “Batlharo originate from Lehurutshe, but were spread all over due to the Anglo Boer War, and some settled at Kuruman, South Africa. Some in the then Southwest Africa (Namibia), some came to Bechuanaland Protectorate (Botswana) and settled along the Molopo River in Kgalagadi South. 

A village elder, Mr Leo Tumaeletse said Bahurutshe ba ga Motlharo must take time to retrospect and retrace their footsteps to their roots, and impart Batshweneng culture in the young people. 

Batlharo engaged in bogwera and bojale which is still being practiced in South Africa, adding that traditional ‘mephato’ schools played a critical role in grooming young women and young men.

Thus he also called on the resuscitation of ‘mephato’ which instilled morals and values in young women and boys. 

For his part, Kgalagadi South MP Samuel Brooks, said the Batshweneng Cultural Festival was in line with revamping cultural tourism, which added economic value to the hospitality industry and reeved up social and networking thus strengthening families. He said such activities boosted local economic development and as such plans were underway to hold the Kgalagadi Lamb Festival at Khuis to appeal to the international community. 

The event, which had attracted throngs of young people had cultural exhibitions, traditional song and dance, and poetry. Minister of Transport and Public Works and MP for Goodhope/Mabule Mr Eric Molale and his wife graced the event, which was also attended by some senior government officials, as well Tsabong district village chiefs. ENDS. EditedSekokonyane Ends

Source : BOPA

Author : Calviniah Kgautlhe

Location : MAUBELO

Event : Cultural Festival

Date : 27 May 2024