Because Botswana will celebrate 50th years of independence this year, the annual Son of the Soil (SOTS) cultural festival aims to get Batswana to introspect on their cultural achievements over the past 50 years; and also plan ahead for the next half a century.
Therefore the organisers have adopted ‘Kwa re go yang’ as the main theme for the annual events, with the sub theme ‘Ke Motswana’ (I’ m a Motswana) to instil national pride.
“The overarching theme for SOTS in the period 2015 to 2024 events is ‘Kwa re go yang’ which aims to highlight culture as one of the pillars of national development. We strongly believe that development must be anchored on a strong national identity,” said the organisers, Bana Ba Mmala.
The sub-theme ‘Ke Motswana’ is meant for every Motswana to look at the past 50 years and also project forwards, in the process evaluating if they have been true to their culture as Batswana.
“This calls on everyone to contribute to the continued definition of Botswana culture in the coming 50 years,” said Bana ba Mmala.
One of the organisers, Pontsho Pusoetsile explained that the aim is to cultivate a sense of pride about Botswana culture.
“The sub-theme works whether one looks at it from the first person (I am a Motswana) or from the third person (That is a Motswana). Either way it portrays the same meaning of one who identifies themselves as a Motswana or is easily identifiable as a Motswana,” he said.
And what is a cultural festival without the food. This year’s Son of the Soil celebrate Botswana cuisine over the past 50 years against the evolution they believe Setswana food will undergo over the next 50 years. The juxtaposition, Pusoetsile says, will spread across all other cultural activities at the event including games, song and dance.
The 2016 main event will be held at Serokolwane Lawns in the Oodi-Matebeleng area.
Given sensitivities around the environment in general, SOTS organisers say they commit to making sure there is very little impact on the environment of the venue where the event is hosted. “We want to assure our sponsors that we have held this event at venues that are environmentally sensitive such as Mokolodi Nature Reserve and Notwane river area and to date we have never had any negative feedback.”
The event will run over a four day period starting with the Pitsong Workshop on Friday 22nd January at the National Museum. The workshop will discuss various Setswana themes and topics such as food culture, homestead culture, tribal culture, and musical culture.
On Friday 29th January there will be a Metswaisong Evening Chillas featuring traditional storytelling, dance, song, dithamalakane and light hearted Setswana humour.
The main event will take place on Saturday January 30th at Serokolwane Lawns while Sunday will be dedicated to a Setswana jazz festival, also at Serokolwane Lawns. The Son of the Soil cultural event started in January 2005 in Tlokweng. It was conceived, and is organised, by a group of youthful individuals known as Bana ba Mmala to relive, learn and enjoy Botswana culture. The festival starts in the morning with attendees helping in preparation of Botswana dishes and meats. The morning is also dedicated to personalised cultural experience, where each attendee gets a chance to play a traditional game, learn Setswana song and dance, learn Setswana cuisine, learn about Botswana tribes and partake in Setswana poetry. After food is served, the afternoon is spent taking part in group song and dance competitions, displaying the best modern interpretations of Setswana attire from among the attendees, watching performances by professional song and dance groups, enjoying traditional drinks like gemere and bojalwa jwa Setswana. In the early evening activities such as diane and dithamalakane become the pastime. The evening is spent listening to and dancing along to traditional artists and DJs that specialise in traditional music.