Friends of the Museum in collaboration with the Founder and organizer of the Heritage Marathon, Olefile Tladi have come up with the idea of hosting a marathon that is aimed at raising awareness about Botswana’s heritage sites and sensitizing Batswana on how they can use heritage to empower themselves.
The initiative has been well received and endorsed by the Archeology Division of the Department of National Museum and Monuments.
“The marathon is a first of its kind in Botswana. It will take place through Mmankgodi, Manyana and Mogonye followed by an official tour of heritage sites in the area,” said Tladi.
Some of the heritage sites that will be visited include the David Livingstone Memorial, Manyana Rock Paintings, Livingstone Tree and MmaMotshwane Gorge. On Wednesday the Heritage Marathon will host an all day workshop in Manyana to raise awareness amongst unemployment youth about the heritage sites and how they can be utilized to fight poverty.
“Our aim is to provide heritage education, community participation and development through recreational activities,” he said.
Chairperson of Friends of the Museum, Itumeleng Botlhoko said in an interview that the marathon is part of their response to a call by President Ian Khama for them to use sports and recreation to lure tourists into the country.
“It is important for the nation to prepare for life after diamonds. If well preserved, culture and heritage could serve the economy and sustain generations to come. We therefore aim to create a success out of the Heritage Marathon by making sure that it becomes the most anticipated fun marathon in the country for many years. We have taken the initiative to promote sports tourism as government has proposed,” said Botlhoko.
She further said one of their objectives is to promote hills like Mmamotshwane Gorge in Mogonye and Dimawe Hills in Mmankgodi, most of which have gone unnoticed and undersold for many years because people know very little about them.
“The Department of National Museum and Monuments has over the years done an incredible job of preserving our heritage sites. But we have not been able to fully promote them. Our initiative was very welcome because it’s one way of celebrating iconic natural structures that will surely boost tourism,” said Tladi.
He further revealed that they have been preparing for the event for a long time through kgotla meeting engagements, forging partnerships with other organizations such as Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) and United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) who have helped with mentoring.
The plan going forward is to fully involve other stakeholders like community trusts and Village Development Committees. Tladi said one of their short term goals is to ensure that there is sufficient and clear signage that will direct people to these beautiful and culturally rich places.
“Signage is very important because at the moment people get lost trying to find the sites,” he said.