Gaborone couple Peggy and Mlungisi Jackalas may not have trained in cultural conservation and museum matters. But their business instincts have inspired them to come up with a cultural project that at a glance resembles a mini-museum. Their centre at the African Mall houses ornaments and foodstuffs that give Tswana heritage pride of place.
Different types of traditional foods such as dried vegetables, morogo, dried maize, letshotlho, beans, dinawa, Tswana biltong or segwapa, to cite just a few, can be sampled or bought from this outlet. If you like you may even ask the couple to show you how to prepare lerotse porridge, or how to cook serobe.
Their business, going by the name of Cultural Centre, a taste of Botswana, exists just for that reason - to get you in touch with Tswana tastes and customs. This is not a government-funded venture, Jackalas is quick to point out because they fund it from their own pockets.
The house' interior would pass for as a mini museum indeed as it home to a variety of cultural artefacts for sale. They include different Tswana pots, baskets, wooden spoons and folks, traditional sweeping brooms, lefeelo, dancing attires, to name just a few.
Familiar Botswana creatures such as lizards, crocodiles, snakes, crabs, flies, and others have been shaped with light metals that can be hanged on the walls. Peggy says the moulded creatures can be used to decorate offices or synthetic gardens. Her business has opened the door for other Batswana who live on curving wood and metals.
She says she buys items from these suppliers and sells them at her museum like business. " They come from as far as Kasane with these pots and baskets. I have not really investigated whether all the suppliers make these items or some of them are imported from neighbouring countries. But people like them", comments Peggy as she shows us around her portable house.
The spot, according to Peggy is now popular for its variety of Tswana dishes. She says during lunchtime people like to come and relax at her place with a plate of Tswana food, and a view of the area. They have decided to keep everything as Tswana as possible.
The food for example is prepared using firewood, and not gas or electricity. If a guest is keen to know how to cook with fire, he or she is free to join the family as they light the fire and start cooking the various Tswana dishes.
The Jackalas say their project was conceived last year but it is growing steadily due to the fact that they fund its expansion from their pockets. The spot boasts of three gardens where patrons can relax under the cool shadows with Tswana dishes.
This is not just about eating out and viewing the mini museum.
Peggy says they aspire to be perceived as a cultural centre where Batswana and non-Batswana could come for anything relating to Tswana culture and customs. She says she has already hosted a Tswana birthday party at a fee.
They pledge that although they do not keep everything Tswana at the centre, they can be intermediaries in sourcing any cultural item for interested buyers.
Although it sounds great to be cultural ambassadors, the Jackals says it has been a long and tiring road as they had to be patient when some of their plans could not come to fruition because of lack of funds. Strangely, some would say, they have never approached anybody for funding, not even Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA). " We just decided to do it the hard way rather than court organizations which would not appreciate our concept", said the calm looking father of one about his new business.