Molepolole is the largest village in Botswana and is located about 50 kms west of Gabs in the South East district of Kweneng. It is known as the home of the Bakwena tribe. And yesterday it was the site of the Dithubaruba Cultural Festival which is held to promote the understanding and appreciation of Kweneng cultural heritage.

The cultural festival included a full line of activities ranging from traditional song and dance (mmino le dipina tsa setso), a traditional harvest festival (dikgafela), poetry (lobebe lwa poko), traditional games and riddles (metshameko ya setso) and Setapa (tribal dancing) until the early hours of Sunday . The actual site of the festival in Molepolole was the   Kwa-ga-Makgosi or ko Ntsweng (Ntsweng Heritage Site).

Buche was conscripted to transport Sheila and I to and from the festival which was about an hour’s drive either way. Let’s just say that for once given the distance and my recent teasing of Buche, he and Sheila took full advantage of having me in a confined space to inflict some reciprocal teasing torture 🙂 Their favorite topic was to taunt me into trying to pronounce the local village names as we passed through and then make fun of my pronunciation. Fortunately I am far more stubborn than either one of them and I refused to participate.

One of the great things about traveling with Buche is his knowledge of local areas, culture, history and facts. The man is like a walking cultural encyclopedia. And he is only to happy to answer my fifty thousand questions about everything. So other than pretending deafness to teasing taunts it was an incredibly enjoyable trip to and from Molepolole.

We arrive at the cultural festival mid-day after a couple of stops in Gaborone to accomplish some tasks. Just as we were being dropped off by our chauffeur the traditional harvest festival was beginning. As a Canadian, harvest festivals, primarily thanksgiving are important celebrations which are held in the fall. Seeing a spring harvest festival was definitely a new adventure for me.

The ladies dressed in their traditional outfits preparing to begin the Harvest Festival
The ladies dressed in their traditional outfits preparing to begin the Harvest Festival
Beginning the festivities
Beginning the festivities

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During the dance Sheila and I decided to try to find a seat so that we could sit and enjoy the celebrations. As it turned out the only seats readily available were in the VIP tent. Deciding that we qualified as VIPs in our own minds if nobody else’s, we nonchalantly strolled over and claimed two front row chairs from which to enjoy the dance! Golly aren’t we?

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I wish that I had the balance to carry pots on my head!
I wish that I had the balance to carry pots on my head!
The District Elders graciously sharing their seats with us
The District Elders graciously sharing their seats with us

Although it was easy for anyone in the VIP tent to discern that we really didn’t belong there, not one person chased us out or made us feel unwelcome. In fact, I was the recipient of many smiles and welcomes. Talk about hospitality.

Following the hour long harvest celebration we were then treated to incredible musical performances by local musicians who literally had everyone cheering, dancing and thoroughly enjoying their performances.

A local musician
A local musician

I loved this performer! So did everyone else – he literally brought almost everyone to their feet

Happy fans!
Happy fans!

I was so tempted to go join these captivated dancers but decided that I was better off keeping my VIP seat which gave me a front row seat and protect from the sun and wind.

Tiny dancers
Tiny dancers

It was a true miracle that I stayed seated because every where I looked there was some one dancing enthusiastically to the excellent music. I particularly loved watching this elder relish the music

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He was soon joined by the most charismatic woman in danceIMG_1716

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These two incredibly energetic dancers outlasted two different performers. And the urge to dance was definitely contagious

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The final performer for this section of the program was certainly playing a unique instrument and had an equally compelling voice.

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Following these musical performances it was time for the VIPs sans Sheila and Cheryl to exit the VIP tent and head for the tent where they were being feed traditional foods for lunch. For everyone else it was time to line up at the traditional cook area for their plates of traditional food.

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During the lunch break Sheila and I took the opportunity to explore the many stalls set up containing local art and crafts.

Local pottery decorated with pumpkin seeds
Local pottery decorated with pumpkin seeds

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The art displays were great showing just how much local talent there really is. This really was a cultural festival displaying remarkable musical talent, dancing, arts, crafts and without a doubt incredible fashion every where you looked. Both Sheila and I saw at least a dozen different dresses made in traditional styles in German print that we wanted. Even the men got into the fashion fun of the day.

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Don't you love his tail?
Don’t you love his tail?

Following the lunch break it time for the festivities to begin again with traditional chanting and dancing

More traditional dancing
More traditional dancing

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Soon it was time to say goodbye and return to Gabs having thoroughly enjoyed the portion of the Dithubaruba Cultural Festival that we attended.

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One thought on “Finding culture in Molepolole

  1. Love, love, love the photos! The celebration looked spectacular! However, I missed the best part – the music. Was that Buche leaning on Sheila in photo 22? Cheryl, what have you done to fatigue the poor man to the point where he needs assistance standing up?

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