The Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Onkokame Mokaila, has proclaimed that Botswana’s partnership with the United States of America is crucial for the preservation of the country’s cultural heritage, which, in turn, will continually contribute to Botswana’s tourism industry.
Mokaila was speaking at the handing over ceremony of the old Palapye Monument stabilisation project, from the United States Embassy to the Botswana National Museum, on Friday.
He emphasised how the US Ambassador Fund has greatly contributed to the maintenance of cultural heritage sites such as Old Palapye monument and Tsodilo Hills, ensuring that they will continue to be major tourist attractions and a source of pride for Batswana for years to come. Speaking at the ceremony, the United States Ambassador to Botswana, Michelle Gavin, reiterated the United States’ commitment to maintaining cultural heritage sites in Botswana and throughout the world and the continued benefits that this initiative will give to Botswana’s tourism industry.
Since its creation in 2001, the United States Ambassador Fund for Cultural Preservation has contributed nearly $26 million (P169 million) in financial support to more than 640 cultural preservation projects in more than 100 countries. In 2009, the Fund gave out a grant worth $54, 000 (P351, 000) towards the preservation of the old Palapye monument, particularly the London Missionary Society Church (LMS).
In 2005, the Fund gave out another grant worth $27, 000 (P176, 000) to the Kuru Cultural Centre, created for the storage and exhibition of artefacts belonging to the San people, whose rich cultural heritagremains of the London Missionary Society Church, a prison, a market centre, a European gravesite and an African burial site. The Church had long been in danger of collapse as heavy rains were causing the building to develop cracks and bricks to become loosened from the structure and fall; a Gaborone-based construction company was roped in to develop chemicals that could make the bricks water resistant while retaining their natural appearance. The other structures were also suffering the effects of heavy rains, as well as vandalism and forestation.