San community calls on govt to protect their culture
by Mpho Keleboge
A spokesperson for the San community has accused government of failure to assist them in protecting their culture.
In an interview with The Telegraph during at the 12th annual Kuru Cultural Dance Festival at Dare Qare Game Farm, 10 kilometres from Gantsi on the road to Maun, the chairperson of the Kuru Family of Organizations, Sophie Morris, said people are using their culture to benefit only themselves while San communities live in poverty.
She said a lot of people across the country are abusing their dance and music and accused some businessmen of using the San to attract tourists to their lodges and game farms. She is of the view that if the owners of the lodges could be using the San traditional groups to have sustainable income it could be better not giving them cigarettes and money that cannot sustain their living.
“I mean P100 as payment for their performance? These people are unfair and are using us,” Morris said.
She also noted that Basarwa have a lot of untapped talent, which can benefit the San community as well as contribute to the economic growth of the nation.
Government should have a policy or law which can protect each and every tribe because some ethnic groups are abusing the San culture and is “really disgusting to see your culture used in a bad way or diminishing without being protected”, said Morris.
Officially opening the 12th annual Kuru Dance Festival the newly appointed Vice President, Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe was of the view that the San should not shy away from their culture but do something to protect it.
He said that they should stand up and show the nation that they have the potential to do what they know best.
Kedikilwe, who is also the patron of the Kuru Family of Organizations, which is a Trust dominated and owned by the San and some Bakgalagadi communities, said there is a need for government to invest more in cultural tourism.
Kedikilwe said community based initiatives, such as cultural festivals, can diversify Botswana’s tourism products beyond wildlife and wilderness.
“Our traditional cultures have a huge untapped potential to be Botswana’s breadbasket through cultural tourism,” he said. “This, therefore, calls for united efforts to vigorously make it viable and thus be attractive to potential benefactors.”
If the government can achieve that, organizations will be able to establish and run sustainable and profitable culture markets, thus contributing to government initiatives of economic diversification, self reliance and poverty eradication.
Botswana has traditional cultures with huge untapped potential, which can be used to woo tourists and investors. He said that cultural festivals enable Batswana to package, document and protect their invaluable tangible and intangible cultural heritage whilst at the same time fostering cultural diversity and mutual understanding.
Kedikilwe pointed out that different ethnic groups can use their artefacts, clothes and language as potential resources, which can be exploited to diversify the economy and enrich themselves for common good.
He added that diversifying the economy through culture speaks volumes and resonates well with Gov’t drive on economic diversification.
He said that singing, music and dancing of the San community advocates for the adaptation to the challenges of global society while retaining the positive aspects of cultural values that distinguish Batswana from other nations.
He further said that government, through the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture, has assisted the Ghanzi Kgalagadi area, more especially the San Community Trust with more than P200 000 in 2011/2012 to undertake skills training workshops on Arts, Craft and Traditional Music.