They sent us a mysterious invite to a supposedly black-tie event at which they would promote Setswana culture.
We receive many of those, and we thought they were probably going to launch some organization that will be mandated to promote culture. Corporate Social Responsibility. Been there. Done that.
But no, it turned out to be quite a beautiful night. It was a night of traditional song and dance. A night on which Botswana’s best strummed guitars, sang traditional songs, recited poems and danced the night away.
It was the launch of BBL’s latest brew, Phafana.
The waitresses were dressed in traditional attire, replete with Botswana’s iconic dikhiba, mateisi, dicale and ditukwi.
The legendary Stampore strummed his guitar and wowed the crowd with his telling songs.
The deep voiced Gong Master sang the night away. The velvet voiced Ntirelan Bergman, (so young, so frail and, oh, so talented and knowledgeable), played his instrument, sang his songs and recited his poems.
Also present were the award-winning and best-selling Culture Spears and a very skillful traditional dance troupe that is said to be housed at Botswana Craft.
It was a night of culture.
A night on which highly paid executives, most of them relatively young, were comfortable drinking traditional beer while taking care that it does not spill onto their pin-striped suits.
Outside of the cushy offices and the flashy cars, the young and chic were surprisingly comfortable dining on bogobe jwa lerotse and drinking Botswana’s symbolic traditional brew. Some call it mokuru. Others simply refer to it as bojalwa ja Setswana. BBL calls it Phafana.
It is simply a traditional beer, made from nothing but sorghum, and served in a nicely designed container.
“It is simply meant to appeal to the traditional side of us. You see, most of us drink mokuru during weddings and at funerals,” said Larona Makgoeng of KBL.
From my little traditional experience, I know that sometimes even children are allowed to drink traditional beer. Even those who are averse to downing one or two strong ones don’t really mind sipping on traditional beer. So I don’t see any reason why it should not be sold in retail outlets.
It’s a source of pride. It’s a national symbol that is anchored on our culture and heritage.
Plus it goes down well.