Ntsweng heritage site in Molepolole was the place to be on Saturday, as Bakwena tribe celebrated the 10th annual Dithubaruba Cultural Festival.
The event was held under the theme Maruping goa boelwa and attracted guests from as far as the United States of America for cultural exchange. The Bakwena from Phokeng in South Africa and Namibia also graced the event.
While the cultural festival aims to celebrate cultural elements like dress, food, language and rite of passage, music and dance dominated most of the proceedings. The crowd was treated to an overabundance of cultural activities, ranging from poetry, traditional music and dance. However before the music, traditional choirs, poetry and dance, Bakwena demonstrated the long abandoned traditional harvest festival called Dikgafela. The festival is meant to appease the heavens to liberate the rains. Elderly women from Maunatlala ward in Molepolole carried pots of harvest while Matsosangwao women carried the traditional beer on their heads for villagers to drink. Led by an elderly man shouting the phrase dikgafela tseo, the women took the harvest to the kgotla before finally taking it to Mohumagadi wa Bakwena Mma-Tumagole.
The demonstration of Dikgafela paved way for Kgosi Kgolo ya Bakwena Kgosi Kgari Sechele III to welcome the nation to the land of his forefathers. He thanked everyone for the annual support. “We continue to grow and through this event we are taking ourselves back to our roots,” he said. Kgosi Kgari Sechele III encouraged people to bring fourth their knowledge and help promote culture. He asked everyone to take part in events like Dithubaruba.
Professor Thapelo Otlogetswe, a linguist from the University of Botswana who is regarded as motlhotlhi wa puo ya Setswana gave a word of encouragement at the event. He said people should learn from Bakwena tribe because they are leading when it comes to organising cultural events in Botswana. Professor Otlogetswe said Sechele was a chief who protected Bakwena and other tribes like Batshweneng therefore everyone should take part in promoting the culture and history of Bakwena.
He said Botho, beliefs, language, dress, food, music and dance, poetry and rites of passage like botsetsi and marriage are an integral part of Botswana’s culture. “These cultural components can contribute to the growth of our economy and resuscitate our culture,” he said. He said people should preserve heritage sites like Dimawe, David Livingstone Tree and Logaga Lwa ga Kobokwe among others. He left the crowd with the Setswana saying ‘kgomo mogala tshwara ka thata esere o utlwa sebodu wa kgaoga’ which means that people should not despair despite any challenges on the way.
Dipela Tsa Ga Kobokwe Traditional Dance Troupe from Molepolole began the festival in style with their unique dance routine. Being a popular group locally and well known for winning phathisi category at the President’s Day Celebrations year and year out, Dipela Tsa Ga Kobokwe exceeded expectations.
In one of their dances they also incorporated wooden milking bucket or kgamelo to showcase the milking process. Poets like Kgomotso Ntsima and Kaone Mahuma also followed to feed the audience with Setswana Poetry.
To show variety of traditional music and dance in Botswana, Tjilenje Tje Ngwao a traditional group based in Francistown erupted the place with a variety of dance moves.
Different groups like Dintsu Tsa Malwelwe, Makanyane, Gatalatau from Mmopane, Bana Ba Kwena from Molepolole, Khuduthamaga from Gaborone, Ngwaosetso and Kgabosetso from Thamaga also danced their way through the afternoon.
Motlhaolosa Poetry ensemble, which is lead by Moreri Moroka, came on stage to praise Kgosi Kgolo Kgari Sechele III. Moroka Moreri spit his hilarious lines and also appreciated U.S Ambassador to Botswana, Earl Miller for embracing the event. Accompanied by a young poet from Thamaga called Tshephang, Moreri also added singing to his witty poetry.
By late afternoon, contemporary artists started to take the stage and Ditiro Leero was the first act on the day. Being a popular figure in the crowd and well known for his rich Setswana language lyrics, Ditiro started the performance with a dance routine with no vocals. He performed songs like Ba ntshodile and Mme mpeola ditedu. Performing alongside Kgwasimo of Tinto fame, Ditiro managed to serenade the crowd.
The main highlight of the festival arrived when Dr Vom hit the Ntsweng Heritage Site with his hit song Thobane. Clad in his trade mark prophet Moses attire, Dr Vom asked the crowd to join him and the place transformed into a stage of traditional choirs or dikhwaere. Other performers like Gongmaster and Solly Sebotso came to the stage to begin evening festivities.
Elderly men and men gathered at the Kgotla to feast on a traditional meat dish called mokoto in Setswana. Traditionally, only men eat mokoto and the meat is taken from the backbone of a cow. In funerals and weddings, mokoto is prepared and served at the kgotla. The men then drank bojalwa jwa setswana from Dikgafela offerings go digela and to start the evening sessions.
While the men were doing their thing, the women were on the other side eating meat called ngati in Setswana. Only mature women can partake in the ngati meat while young girls and men are not allowed. The activities of go ja mokoto and ngati were taking place simultaneously at Dithubarubu Cultural festival. The festival will return again next year for the 11th installment.