Renowned traditional dance group Mafitlhakgosi has established a food joint, located in the heart of Old Naledi in Gaborone. The restaurant was officially opened in January 2019 and has gained reputable popularity. Arts & Culture Writer, VICTORIA MARUMO visited the newest township eatery at the vibrant location of Old Naledi popularly known as Zola to get the spark of the township taste.
The all-time favourite traditional dance group, Mafitlhakgosi popularly known for bursting with skill and energy and sizzling performances has grown to provide more than just entertainment in the form of dance.
While they have a long list of clientele, who time and again, seek their amazing dance skills for various events, most of them corporate, they came to realise that they could not rely on only one source of income, hence the restaurant.
“The idea was mainly inspired by the desire to increase our earnings, in order for us to be able to sustain ourselves, whether or not dancing remains popular”, team leader and restaurant manager Joseph Ikopeleng told Arts & Culture in an interview.
They however did not want to drift from who they are as a brand, evidenced by their strict Setswana cuisine and customers who also get the pleasure of listening to the group’s music in the background.
The Mafitlhakgosi restaurant initiative is a project started from the team’s own pockets.
It is a beautiful structure, with traditional ornaments decorating the place and the faces of Botswana’s presidents, an idea Ikopeleng adopted from a restaurant he saw in Denmark on one of their international performances.
“We did not seek any start-up capital nor did we have any sponsors, but rather used earnings from Mafitlhakgosi dance group
The restaurant is therefore a result of commitment and dedication of the group, with the possibility of venturing into travel and tours.
Some of their biggest clients since the inception of the restaurant have been Hollard, Botswana Basketball Association, De Beers and other high-profile members of society, the likes of deputy speaker, Kagiso Molatlhegi, who is said to be a regular at the restaurant. The restaurant has six permanent employees and a whole group of others who rotate on different shifts. Some of them belong to the dance group and others are from the residential area itself.
“The purpose of hiring youngsters from around is to keep them purposefully busy so they do not end up caught up in the wrong things”, Ikopeleng said.
He further added that they also hire the youth as security around the restaurant, to safeguard the customers’ cars and generally keep riffraff and muggers away.
The food prices range from as little as P5 to P20, all fixed to accommodate everyone who wishes to dine there.
The restaurant is open every day of the week from 7am to midnight.
Members of the society are encouraged to put aside what they believe is the perception of Zola the neighbourhood, and pop in for a hearty traditional feast and offer their support.