Mmegi Online :: Tour Of Supa Ngwao Museum Is Quite Revealing
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Last Updated
Thursday 13 December 2018, 12:33 pm.
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Tour Of Supa Ngwao Museum Is Quite Revealing

FRANCISTOWN: It is one of the important places that people continue to ignore and overlook.
By Staff Writer Thu 13 Dec 2018, 23:28 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Tour Of Supa Ngwao Museum Is Quite Revealing








 

 

It is proving to be one of the few places whose core business is not only to collect the remnants of the past, but also to wage a fierce battle to preserve our culture, which is undoubtedly being eroded by the waves of foreign cultures. This is Supa Ngwao Museum.
It is located in the former government camp in Francistown. It is amongst the historic buildings that are just at the foot of the great Nyangabwe Hill. It has been operational since 1992.
At the entrance to this building, the curator, 28-year-old Kamogelo Mapila of Mochudi, warmly welcomes local and foreign visitors to the museum.
Lying outside this building are various old equipment that include a cattle drawn wagon, a printing/publishing machine and a fuel tank for aeroplanes.
Mapila also briefs the visitor on a botanic garden that boasts a variety of indigenous trees. " These trees are predominantly from the northern part of Botswana and others are from all over the country," Mapila says.
The building that houses this museum is an old magistrate's court. " We have not tampered much with the structure of this building except for minor renovations and partitioning of the building so as to enable us to display our crafts well," Mapila says. The atmosphere in this building reminds one of the silence that usually prevails in a normal court session.
The first room as one enters the museum houses the craft shop. The shop is stocked with an assortment of art works from local craftsmen. " This place avails the local craftsmen and those from the neighbouring villages the opportunity to showcase their skills. They display their work for free here," he discloses.
He also reveals that the museum is undoubtedly a marketing place for most of the artists in the Northern Botswana. "Interested people usually buy some of the art works from here," he asserts. The price tags on the sculptures and other artworks confirm his sentiments.
In the corner of the craft shop, one's attention is captured by sculptures that look more like dolls. Some are male and others are female. They are of different heights. Some are very tall and others are amazingly short. "These are various (mis) conceptions of the dreaded Thokolosi as perceived by the various artists," Mapila explains.
The next room that is labelled' ' WAR VETERANS'.  This is a room that is very rich in terms of the information pertaining to Batswana's contributions during the world wars. There are a number of pictures of our heroes in action. Copies of letters from various parts of the world that praise and acknowledge our grandfathers' contribution in the struggle for the illusive world peace are also nicely displayed on the walls of this room.
After this room the visitor is taken into a room that is labelled ' SECRET SIGNS'. These are signs that for a long time have been visible along our roads. " They are a very ancient method of communication that has stood the test of time. They are still in use today," Mapila asserts. "These signs are fully and easily understood by the communities that use them," Mapila concludes as we move out of this room.
The next is the INFORMATION CENTRE or the mini library.  Here the visitor/tourist will find a number of

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books. Some are for sale. These include books about various wild birds and animals. There are also books on plant types and animals and plant diseases. Books on native languages such as Ikalanga are also available. " To inculcate the culture of reading amongst the locals, we have a book exchange programme," Mapila explains.
The centre also boasts of various leaflets that provide information about the museum itself and various places of interest in and around Francistown. " The museum does not only focus on collecting ancient material as some people mistakenly conclude. We also provide information about where to go for entertainment and places where one can get traditional meals," Mapila clarifies as he points to some of the brochures and leaflets on display.
This museum also provides a town tour on request. " We take people on a guided tour of Francistown and other places of interest in its vicinity. This has to be arranged in advance, however," Mapila emphasises. He also says that the tour around Francistown is usually done through walking so that the "visitor cannot only see the town but will also get to experience the mood of the town so as to have a long lasting memory of the tour".
Mapila identifies a number of strategies and activities that they have put in place to try to raise people's awareness about the museum and its role in the development of the society. " We have put in place a number of initiatives such as the hosting of drama festivals and art exhibitions and guided school tours as a way of luring people into visiting the museum. The response, particularly amongst the artists, has been overwhelming," he says.
He is also happy that over the years they have witnessed a steady increase in the number of people visiting the museum though there is room for improvement. "The major setback in our endeavour to have a high number of people visiting the museum is the misconception that people have about museums. They simply perceive them as places that merely deal with the past that is of no significance to their lives," he laments. He feels that this is the kind of stigma that they have to fight against as they labour to sensitise people about the fact that museums are an integral part of any society and whose relevance can neither be questioned nor ignored.
Supa Ngwao Museum is also involved in a corporate philanthropy adventure. " We are working in conjunction with the Lephoi Centre for the Blind in Francistown to stage an exhibition for the blind. This is going to be a very big project," he says. He maintains that this is going to be one way of giving back to the community - a token of appreciation that each and every organisation ought to do. 
Mapila also highlights the fact that the museum is working in collaboration with schools to promote art.
" We work with schools, particularly primary schools, in various art projects. The response from these schools has been tremendous and we intend to strengthen our relationship with them."
Mapila has invited Batswana to join the museum.
"The individual membership fee is P10 and P15 for the family, while the corporate is P25," he said.


 

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