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Botswanacraft celebrates 50 years

MOMPATI TLHANKANE
Besides crafts, live music definitely added a whole new flavour to Botswanacraft’s way of life PICS:THALEFANG CHARLES
This week marks exactly 50 years since Botswanacraft was first established in June 1970 as a collaborative effort between the US Peace Corps and the Botswana Development Corporation. The company was later privatised in 1993.

The mandate of Botswanacraft is to develop the rural-based handicraft industry. It plays a crucial role in the export of  handicrafts made in Botswana and secures a market for its handwoven baskets, many of which are produced in the northern district of Ngamiland.

Botswanacraft has always promoted indigenous crafts hoping to generate income for rural Batswana. Since then, Botswanacraft has continued to market Botswana baskets and handicrafts, which are now exported to America, Europe and the rest of the world. Hence, Botswana baskets are widely regarded as some of the finest in Africa because of their high quality, outstanding workmanship and originality.

 Being the largest handcraft centre in Gaborone, Botswanacraft also has a courtyard restaurant, conference room and host corporate events and music shows. The Courtyard Restaurant is tucked away behind the retail store, and is the ideal meeting place for a business breakfast or a relaxed lunch.

 “Botswanacraft is celebrating its 50th birthday.

During this COVID-19 pandemic we could not go ahead with our initial celebration plans but we appreciate the fact that we are open, customers are supporting us and we are now trying to find our way during these trying times,” Botswanacraft Managing Director Oliver Groth told Arts & Culture in an interview. Groth also said over the years Botswanacraft has provided an outlet for many rural craft producers throughout the country.

He added that most of the producers are women living in very remote rural villages who depend on subsistence farming and

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crafts to generate a cash income. He said the main products include basketry and pottery, which have both evolved over the years.

“When we built and occupied our own premises in Gaborone in 2000 the company expanded its role to include cultural events and the courtyard restaurant. We started with our first Letlhafula festival to celebrate the great variety and diversity of traditional Botswana foods and tastes. Our courtyard restaurant still specialises in traditional food. Further along the journey, we started hosting live musical events.

The very first event was a small gathering listening to Louis Mlhanga and Regis Gizavo from Madagascar (may his soul rest in peace),” he revealed.

 Groth further remarked that live music definitely added a whole new flavour to their way of life. He said they have been honoured to host numerous artists from around the world, but the purpose has always been to feature local artists alongside foreigners to enable sharing of skills and ideas. 

“In the early 1990’s, our slogan changed to ‘sharing culture’ as we believe we must continuously learn from others. So, we both import and export crafts as a way of sharing culture with the rest of the world,” he further revealed.

Groth said one day they will learn to appreciate their own art, craft, music, drama, poetry and dance and respect and honour those who are blessed with the creative spirit. “Until then our work continues. With thanks for your support,” he cheerfully concluded.



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