For the second time in 16 years, the Dqae Qare game farm in D’Kar will not be hosting the hitherto annual Kuru Dance Festival that has proved hugely popular with both local and foreign culture enthusiasts.
This is the message that has been posted on the Festival’s Facebook page: “Dear Friends, unfortunately; plans to have the Dance Festival this year have been cancelled. There shall be no Festival this year!!We apologize for any inconveniences caused. Thank you!!”
From a story that D’Kar councillor, Nathaniel Tuahuku, narrates, disagreements between the Kuru D’Kar Trust and a sister NGO called Letloa Trust seem to be the cause of the problem. Alongside six others, the two are part of the Kuru Family of Organisations.
The largest gathering of San Dancers in Southern Africa, the Festival is held on the only Basarwa-owned game farm in Botswana which is owned and operated by the Kuru D’Kar Trust. Situated about 10 kilometres south of D’Kar, the farm is 7500 hectares in size and boasts wild animals such as springbok, gemsbok, red hartebeest, zebra, giraffe, ostrich, jackal, caracal and many species of birds.
In the preparation phase of the Festival, Kuru D’Kar Trust could find common ground with Letloa Trust over issues of gate-takings and venue. Councillor Tuahuku says that at one point, Letloa, which organises the Festival, proposed that it be held in Gantsi which didn’t sit well with both Kuru D’Kar Trust and the D’Kar community. A subsequent kgotla meeting resolved that Dqae Qare be retained as the venue.
Since its inception in 1997, the Festival has been held at the end of August but the planning delays made it impossible to hold it at that time. September 23-27 was then proposed but the farm indicated that it wouldn’t be able to accommodate the Festival in that period of time.
This happens as the Festival hands down Botswana’s premier cultural dance festival and is beginning to attract the much desired corporate attention. In 2011, the Festival broke its run due to insufficient funds and the following year, Debswana’s Jwaneng Mine came to the rescue with a P284 500 donation. This year’s edition was to be sponsored by cellular network operator, BeMobile, a subsidiary of the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation. The sponsorship amount that Tuahuku quotes is P444 000. The councillor says that the Festival will be back next year with BeMobile as the sponsor and the sponsorship will run for three years.
The cancellation of this year’s edition will come as a huge disappointment to the Festival’s legion of followers. When the story of the Festival’s return was announced in the local media last year, an elderly Swedish woman called Elisabet Jansson thrilled to this news on Facebook by posting: “I┬┤m really looking forward to the Kuru Dance Festival, travelling the whole way from Sweden together with 8 friends.”
In the past, the Festival has enjoyed the patronage of President Ian Khama.