Last Updated
Wednesday 07 October 2015, 18:00 pm.
Several buildings declared national monuments

The National Museum has declared some buildings and building ruins national monuments because of the rich history some hold that tell part of Botswana's history.
By Staff Writer Fri 09 Oct 2015, 07:03 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Several buildings declared national monuments

To preserve this history, government has decided to list such buildings or ruins as monuments so as to protect and preserve them for future generations. One such place declared a national monument is MOTH Hall, a place that is said to be of a great significance to President Ian Khama who celebrated his 21st birthday there. MOTH hall was initially built as an entertainment and recreational place for veteran World War soldiers. The abbreviation "MOTH" stands for Memorable Order of Tin Hats; an international club whose origins date back to 1927 Durban, South Africa. The objective of this order was to celebrate the memories and spirit of comradeship and self-sacrifice of veteran soldiers. The area is also known to have been popular with troops travelling along the railway line en route to and from South Africa, South West Africa (Namibia) and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) prior to independence.

"Architecturally the inner delineations and use of space is the preserved part of the building comprising of a full three tiered 1930s era bandstand, complete with a dance floor and a theatrical stage. After independence the MOTH hall took a more general socializing club, a theatre and a meeting place for former service men and members of the public alike. This monument has been refurbished in recent times but its inner space, rear side and most of the outer wall are original," Phillip Segola, Chief Curator at the National Museum explained.

He said that the ultimate presentation of this monument will have links to the War Memorial near parliament but also with other war related monuments such as Lesoma in the Chobe District.

The Three Dikgosi Monument in Gaborone is one of the places also listed under the protection of the National Museum. According to Segadika, this built monument of the three dikgosi captures the history and the voyage of the Three Dikgosi who went to England in 1895 to lobby and resist incorporation of Bechuanaland into either South Africa or Rhodesia.

Another monument is Fish Keitseng's Anti-Apartheid Transit and Safe House in Lobatse. According to history, the Safe House, Fish Keitseng and his family represent the contributions ordinary people from Botswana made towards South Africa's liberation struggle during the apartheid era.

Hundreds of freedom fighters were hosted and sometimes smuggled into this Safe House en route to and from Umkhonto We Sizwe training camps and other strategic visits to the North - mostly in Zambia. It was a sacrificial and risky act of service by a Motswana in the African National Congress (ANC) underground movement. The list of people who were hosted in this humble transits Safe House include Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and many others who have now become prominent leaders in ANC-led South Africa.

The House is said to also present an opportunity for the life story of Keitseng who was one of the accused in the historically important Treason Trial of 1956 along side other Batswana such as Motsamai Mpho. His part in local opposition politics also spanned four decades contributing to the Botswana People Party (BPP) insurgence in the 1960s, being a founding member of the breakaway Botswana Independence Party and later establishing himself in the Botswana National Front where he served as a nominated councillor in Gaborone between 1989 and 1993.

The Samora Machel safe house, where the Kgaboesele family house in Peleng is, represents the important role Lobatse residents played in hosting underground Southern African freedom fighters - specifically, Mozambican former president, the late Samora Moises

Machel. He was hosted in this home and living as part of the family prior to Mozambique's Independence in 1975.

The Tati Training Institute of Kgalemang T Motsete's Mosojane, located in Nyewele in the Mosojane area just east of the Tati River, is also a national monument.

The composer of the national anthem, Motsete was passionate about Education and so he founded and led the Tati Training Institute at Nyewele where it is now in ruins.

The ruins are significant because the building was Bechuanaland's first secondary school that operated in 1932 where subjects such as English, Ikalanga, Arithmetic, History, Hygiene, Moral Lessons, Prayers and Scripture as well as Music were taught. At that time, students were given the privilege of going beyond the common standard two to standard six where they sat for Junior Certificate examinations in Mafikeng.

In 1941 the school closed down due to lack of funding and the outbreak of World War II. By then the school produced 322 graduates, some of whom were from as far as Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). 

The ruins are of great significance because they show the determination of a Motswana to mobilise a community into using its own resources to provide for their children.

"As a National Monument the site will provide an opportunity on the presentation of memories of the community on this school and to reminisce on the life of K T Motsete who was also founder of the Botswana Peoples Party, the country's first political party alongside Motsamai Mpho," Segadika noted.

The Gaborone Old Prison at Village, of historical and architectural value, is now a national monument. It is an important structure for public education on colonial infrastructure details, allocation and evolving ideas about prisons and imprisonment. The building features include iron bars, thick wooden doors and the division of space in the prison architecture. Also on the list is the famous Bonnington Farm in Gaborone, Block 5 that includes a farm house, stores and associated features.

This site represents the relics of the thriving pre-independence commercial farms around Gaborone. Kgosi Sechele initially allocated some of these farms (such as Bonnington and Broadhurst farms alone) to foreigners as a buffer area.

 "Built by Daniel Henry Le Cordeur in the 1940s, the Bonnington silos alone were declared a National Monument in 2006 while after a study some features like farmhouse, stores, garden and a pool were later listed as monuments," Segadika noted.

Segadika said that the site is listed on understanding that the farm house and store rooms will be restored and refurbished into a botanical garden and an open air museum that uses this site to present the cultural landscape  and history of Gaborone.

When Rain Clouds Gather writer Bessie Head's house in Serowe that is under the custodianship of Bessie Head Trust is now turning the house into a site museum with associated developments for public use.

The house at Sengwato Ward in Serowe was the home and area from which Bessie Head wrote her legendary literary works.
"The house is still in its original construction detail and offers an opportunity to celebrate the legacy of Bessie Amelia Head, nee Emery.

Born in Apartheid South Africa in 1937, she tenaciously turned around the circumstances of her birth, race, mental health and refuge in Serowe to offer herself as a gift to human kind," Segadika said. Head's first novel When Rain Clouds Gather was published in 1968 where she told the story of her life and of Batswana at the time.

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