Monday, June 21, 2021

Domboshaba Festival, the heart of the Bakalanga people

A few kilometers from Masunga Village sleeps a range of beautiful brown hills that seem to be telling a story on their own with their astounding arrangement and colour.

These are not just any other ordinary hills, but are a sacred place to the Bakalanga people, a minority tribe in Botswana, found in the North Eastern part of the country.

If only the hills could speak, it seems a lot of stories would be recited by these beautiful stones.

That is why multitudes of people once again thronged the Domboshaba Annual Festival last week to commemorate the cultural heritage of the Bakalanga tribe at the Domboshaba Ruins, a place carrying the Bakalanga archives of history and a place they regard sacred.

The festival, roped in artists and Bakalanga from all corners of Botswana to come and cultivate their cultural identity and network. It was a resounding success as the young and the old all feasted and danced, recited poems and shared knowledge.

Not only did the Bakalanga take part but, much interestingly, even people from neighbouring countries and other Batswana from different tribes came to enjoy the festival and scenery.

Songs, dance, clothing and the traditional Kalanga cuisines became the order of the day.
The festival, which has been held annually, has continued to grow in leaps and bounds and has accumulated popularity in recent years.

Many of the Bakalanga people in Botswana have always advocated for their culture to be promoted and be retained with the demand that their language has not been taught in schools and that their culture has not gained much recognition.

But ever since the introduction of the festival a sense of pride among the Bakalanga people looks promissory as many youths have continued to attend the festival. The youth are indeed the heirs of the cultural throne and they are the leaders of tomorrow, which makes them automatically the people who should be actively involved.

However, historically, the festival was formed on the basis that the Bakalanga culture is slowly fading and there have been fears that some Bakalanga have lost their pride and consciousness on their cultural and historical heritage.

A group of Francistown-based writers, Mukani Action Campaign (MAC) initiated the festival in 2000. MAC later got support from another group, the Society for the Promotion of Ikalanga Language (SPIL).
Are cultural festivals important?

Culture is an aspect of life that gives one an identity of whom he is and where he is from.
Looking at the history of the festival, Bakalanga being one of the minority tribes in the country, the festival was created as a way of bringing in self cultural awareness, a sense of pride and a sense of belonging to a certain group.

Culture is very important because it forms invisible bonds between people, it brings about people and helps instill a sense of pride and distinguishes them from other groups.

Through cultural activities like the Domboshaba festivals, tribes can thrive and a sense of pride can be resuscitated given the death of cultures in Africa and across the world.

Cultures can come back to life.

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