As the nation braces itself for the prestigious independence celebrations with literally every rock across the country bearing our national colours, the dusty Motokwe village in Kweneng West District is also set to join in on the national celebratory chorus.
The annual Motokwe Independence Derby returns again for only the second year after undergoing a commercial facelift in 2015, thanks to organiser Jacob Kelebeng.
The event traces its origins back to the 70s, less than a decade after Botswana gained its independence from the British.
It has since turned into more than just about the thoroughbreds gasping for breath in the race track. It has become a cultural festival.
“It’s a cultural tourism event that aims to continue fostering spiritual and cultural respect among residents, while also creating economic opportunities to benefit the disadvantaged communities in and around Motokwe,” says Kelebeng.
He says the event also aims to preserve and advance the culture of Bakgalagadi communities as a whole.
Kelebeng says the Motokwe Horse Race has brought economic opportunities for the people and youth of Motokwe and neighbouring settlements.
“Small businesses get to benefit from the four-day festivities while horse racers also have something to smile about as they get exciting and life changing rewards,” Kelebeng says, adding that “artists in our region also get an opportunity to showcase their talent as the event attracts multitudes from all corners of Botswana and even from South Africa and Lesotho.”
He says hospitality businesses such as lodges and guest houses have also gotten an opportunity to register record bookings for accommodations.
The local Village Development Committee (VDC) is also said to get a financial boost during the event. “Farmers in our region also get an opportunity to showcase and sell their livestock.”
Activities expected include the horse race, agriculture, jazz day and cultural night among others from September 29 to October 4.
The event is organised by Kelebeng’s company, Knighthood Marketing in partnership with Press 24, Dalyon Media, Motokwe VDC and Motokwe Farmers Association.
“There will be a camping site for those who want alternative accommodation and we encourage people to book well in advance in order for necessary arrangements to be made. We are expecting visitors from all corners of Botswana, mostly Kweneng, Kgalagadi, Gantsi, Ngwaketsi West and from as far as South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia.” Kelebeng says the event has for a very long time run without sponsors which is part of the reason he chose to intervene and commercialise the event.
He says despite being named after Motokwe, the event accommodates neighbouring villages such as Takatokwane, Khudumelapye, Dutlwe, Kang, Mabutsane and Tsetseng among others.