Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)

13 October 2006

Botswana: Phuthadikobo Holds Exhibition On Historical Buildings

Apart from carrying national significance, historical buildings are held in the highest esteem the world over and they are always key points on any tourist map routes.

While Botswana's stand on saving historical buildings seems to be lagging behind, its museums still find the need to at least give the public some knowledge on such buildings.

Phuthadikobo, perhaps the oldest community museum in the country, is hosting an exhibition titled 'Forget Me Not'. The exhibition, as the title suggests, is one that features photographs of historical buildings, funeral programs, and textile prints.

The title of the exhibition is derived from a photograph of a Mokgatla woman taken in 1919 by photographer Duggan Cronin. The photographer never got the name of the woman who was elegantly dressed, and therefore captioned the picture 'Kgotla woman at Mochudi (Mrs Forget Me Not)'

The exhibition is very relevant to its theme in that, for the most part, all the items that are being exhibited are some of the country's buildings, which have a rich history. The exhibition, which mostly features photographs by Sandy Grant, has interesting buildings, which include traditional decorations that were popular in the olden days. One of the interesting photographs is that of shelves which somehow simulate the modern room divider. The mud-built shelves are built on to the wall and hold household utensils. It was designed about 60 years ago; Sandy Grant took the picture in Kanye. Other photographs on display include the Bakwena National Office at Ntseng as it was in 1976, the majestic LMS church in Serowe, which was built in 1912, and both photographs were taken by Sandy Grant.

The exhibition also features the Kanye Kgotla in 1978, which historically was termed the finest Kgotla in the country. Phuthadikobo museum also has the old LMS church in Kanye, which was built by Reverend Sanes Good in 1870.

The building was totally destroyed by fire in 2001. The exhibition also features funeral programs of loved ones.

The Phuthadikobo Museum is named after the hill on which it stands. Sandy Grant established the museum in 1976 in conjunction with the local community and with the encouragement of Chief Linchwe 11 of the Bakgatla. It is legally registered as a Trust and is owned and administered by a Board of Trustees.

The museum has a range of interesting displays, a craft shop, a working traditional blacksmith's yard and a silk screen-printing workshop. Visitors can enjoy, amongst others, the displayed history of a remarkable community extending over 120 years and the wonderful historic photographs of Duggan Cronin, Professor Isaac Schapera, Senwelo Sejoe, Francis Phirie and Sandy Grant. In addition, visitors can also see the neck rings worn by Bakgatla women which pre-date their tribes migration from the Transvaal in 1869-71, fascinating letters and documents. The museum also has the metal hut tax discs of the early 1900s and the bible presented to Chief Lentswe 1 on his conversion to Christianity in 1892.

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