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Motswana Potter Targets Guinness Record

MOMPATI TLHANKANE
Mmla Oefile. PIC: MOMPATI TLHANKANE
A teacher, Mmala Oefile from Molepolole has finally begun his Big Pot Africa project in which he aims to beat Guinness Book of World Records by making the world’s largest clay pot.

In his quest, Oefile intends to beat a eat achieved by Rytis Konstantinavicius (Lithuania), in Babimost, Poland, on September 7, 2014. Konstantinavicius’s largest earthenware pot had a height of 310.1 cm (9 ft 10.54 in), a maximum circumference of 689.5 cm (22 ft 7.46 in), a mouth circumference of 502.9 cm (16 ft 5.99 in), a mouth diameter of 160.1 cm (5 ft 3.03 in), and a floor circumference of 466 cm (15 ft 3.46 in). The pot consumed 3,000 kg clay.

Now Kgari Sechele I Museum in Molepolole will be the historic site once Oefile completes his Big Pot next year. Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) has donated P30, 000 for the Big Pot Africa project. This past weekend a group of volunteers from CEDA visited Oefile and his team to help speed up the process by preparing some of the clay ingredients.

Oefile has already started the vase of the big pot. Briefing the volunteers about his project, the Francistown-based teacher said he had a dream to achieve a feat. As an art teacher at Montsamaisa JSS, Oefile said he has always loved ceramic work no wonder he won the best award in ceramic at the 2017 President’s Day Art & Craft Competitions.

“I have grown and decided to leave the competitions for my students and other youngsters,” he said.

Oefile also said he knew that some of his former students were talented so he ran around locating some of those who couldn’t make it to senior school.

“I sold this idea to them and I thought it is befitting for Batswana to be recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. We agreed

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to come to Molepolole to start this project,” he recalled.

Oefile said he researched about the world’s largest clay pot and took it upon himself to bring the record to Botswana.

“We are happy because now more people are coming on board to become part of the big pot Africa family. We are going to break this record together and we going to do it the African way,” he highlighted.

He said they have indigenous knowledge from local historians and writers therefore they will transfer it from the past generation to the current one. “We went around to places like Gabane to find people who knew more about Setswana pottery to make a perfect mixture of clay. In the end it will be a pot that represent us as Botswana,” he said.

Oefile observed that an African pot is made with a combination of clay and some unique stone.

“This stone is not easy to find and there are usually principles to follow. Once it is found, elderly women crush it using mortar and pestle (kika le motshe), then winnow it. The remaining powder from the crushed stone is then mixed with clay,” he said.

He said they have managed to learn a lot about Setswana pottery adding that for his feat to be considered for Guinness Book of World Records, he has to write a report, produce video evidence and produce two witness statements.

Oefile said he had asked for unpaid leave but now time has elapsed so he will be forced to get back to work. He said he expected the project to take a few months and possibly be completed early next year.



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