Thursday, September 24, 2020

Wayeyi Cultural Festival (RUETA)

Dear Editor

In order to preserve their culture, the Wayeyi formed the Kamanakao Association in March 1995. Its main aim is to develop and maintain the remnants of the Shiyeyi language and culture, as part of the overall national culture.

One of its first activities was to develop the Shiyeyi language. This has been going on since 1995 and, currently, there is a published orthography for Shiyeyi, 12 pre-primary and primary school books and several adult literacy books.

The Annual Cultural Festival called RUETA is meant to develop and revive the culture of the Wayeyi in the form of song, dance, poetry, food, sale of artefacts and literature, traditional practices and educational activities such as inshembiro (girls’ initiation). The festival will be held this year at Gumare on April 18, 2009. It will be officially opened by Honourable Minister of Youth Sport and Culture, Gladys Kokorwe.

The Wayeyi came to Botswana from Central Africa into DiYeyi (Namibia) around 1000 AD according to Andrew Murray.

Professor Tlou reports that the Wayeyi are “the first Bantu-speakers to emigrate to the Okavango delta”. They found the Basarwa (Khoisan) of Xanikhwe ethnicity. Because of the lengthy stay with Basarwa the Wayeyi language, Shiyeyi began to have clicks. The first group of Wayeyi was lead by their Chief Hankuze.

They settled in Ncame (Lake Ngami) where they hunted and did fishing. Here they also met the Basarwa (Khoisan). The second group was lead by Qunku and his brother Qunkunyane. This group came via the delta and settled at Tubu and later Gumare, Karwanga (Nokaneng) and Tjau (Tsau) (Tlou, 1985, Mandja, 1997 video presentation). They later met with the Hankuze people. Matsharatshara led the last group (with his brother Matshara) and it came through the Sankuyu, Matlapaneng area and finally settled in the Boteti area with the Deti (another Khoesan group). The three leaders were brothers with Matsharatshara being the eldest, followed by Hankudze and lastly Qunku.

Their leader in Namibia was Matsharatshara and this is why he had to stay behind as his brothers fled the Lozi into Botswana. He is the descendant of Muyeyi Matsharatshara, the first Chief of the Wayeyi, from whom their name originated.

Lydia Nyati-Ramahobo

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