Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Experiencing the life and festivities of Kang

There is no greater feeling than getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing a different environment all together. This past weekend saw me head to Kang for the annual Western Kgalagadi Dance Festival, courtesy of Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO).

The road to Kang rather seemed short because of the excitement that had built up a few days prior to taking the trip.

When the time to experience the dance spectacle came, most of us were already on a high with anticipation.

The night was dedicated to groups performing the Healing Dance. With a bonfire lit and spectators waiting in anticipation amid the cold weather, the dancing started.

A bonfire is an essential part of the healing for the Khoe and the San tribe. The belief surrounding the fire is that it lights up and scares the devil who is scared of light. The devil is said to be the one who brings in sickness. The fire also has another role, that of transferring healing energies as patients or anyone whom the sickness may befall are massaged with warm hands to remove the sickness.

The healing dance is part of the Khoe and San communities and is performed for a different number of reasons, such as for land, animals, foretelling the future, hunting and gathering, amongst others.

With the traditional groups having danced their part, the evening came to an end. It’s worth noting that I did not get what I was hoping for. A colleague who attended the dance festival last year had helped me paint a picture of what to expect. I had hoped to see old people among the batch performing the healing dances. However, only the younger generation was present.

But the following morning had a lot in store.

There were more than eight different types of dances lined up to take place. These dances included the Hunting and Gathering, Wedding Ceremony, Polka, Puberty dance (ngwale), Games and other cultural dances. These dances are a part of the Bakgalagadi, the Khoe and the San tribes who reside within the boundaries of the Western Kgalagadi Conservation Corridor (WKCC).

The first dance to be performed was the Hunting and Gathering dance, which was later followed by the other types of dances. And so the dances continued into the afternoon and evening.

Eleven groups performed their different dance routines taking turns on stage.

Camel rides were also part of the programme and I got an opportunity to enjoy riding on a camel’s back. I had a scary but fun experience riding the camel. The take off is a bit scary and I never got to fully witness it as I closed my eyes only to open them when the camel was now in full motion, walking away.

Fast forward to a later stage in the evening and Kang had gone quiet. My travel colleagues and I went to check out Kang’s famous Queens and Kings Bar only to find it closed. It had closed and only a few people who still wanted to party the night away remained. We had passed there earlier before in the evening and it was abuzz with activity but now it was a different sight and it was only around past 11.

Sunday morning, we just took a trip around the village and interacted with the local folks. We stopped at a tavern along the road and this is where I got my first sip of Chibuku Shake Shake.

I had always wanted to try it but never got an opportunity and this was it. With no time wasted I opened the carton and indulged. It might be surprising but I did enjoy and took a few more sips. Besides, Chibuku tasted just like the traditional brew (Bojalwa jwa Setswana).

After interaction it was time to come back home after experiencing Kang.

The festival gave me the opportunity to experience several things outside my “normal” repetitive routine. I had Gemsbok meat, rode on a camel, drank Chibuku and experienced a different lifestyle from one I am used to.

I will be there again next year!

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