25 May 2007

Botswana: Sefhako Sets Up Cultural Village

Gaborone — Cultural activist Judith Sefhako, who has devoted her life to preserving Setswana culture, has set up a cultural village in Mompane, using her traditional troupe, Ditholwana.

Sefhako, who has just retired from the Department of Youth and Culture, says she will give her full attention to the project, which is to be launched next month with a cultural event called, Molaletsa.

According to her, molaletsa is a clarion call to other people to come and help them with the centre project, which is to be built in phases. Sefhako, who has been busy collecting traditional implements for the event, said the launch would be a cultural spectacle to which she intends to invite all the relevant stakeholders.

The village will target everyone and offer a variety of cultural activities and traditional foods. Sefhako said in the long run they would provide accommodation facilities as well. The only hindrance, she said, is the limited size of the plot. But in future, she intends to look for a bigger one.

Sefhako said they would also get elderly people to come and teach Setswana culture at the centre. She said even traditional pottery would be done as well. "This has been my a dream come true for me," she said about her ambitious project.

Sefhako said the presidential award, which was bestowed on her by President Festus Mogae last year, motivated her.

The award was in recognition of her contribution to the development of the Setswana culture. She said she had been thinking about the project for a long time, but it was difficult to acquire a plot.

The centre would also be targeting the 2010 World Cup, as soccer fans from all over the world are likely to spill over into Botswana during the month-long event. Sefhako said her project is also in line with the Vision 2016 pillar on cultural development. The cultural centre would also host workshops.

And in order to sustain the centre, Sefhako says they will be selling some of the their products at a curio shop they intend to set up.

Sefhako has been involved in cultural activities for almost her entire life.

When she was a primary school teacher, she introduced traditional dancing at the schools where she taught and won all the national competitions. She also formed Ditholwana traditional troupe at a time when traditional dancing was frowned upon. Observers indicate that new traditional groups that are mushrooming all over the country are following in Ditholwana's footsteps.

Last year, Sefhako headed a traditional troupe, which travelled to the United States on a trade mission. The aim of the trip, which was sponsored by the Botswana Export Development and Investment Agency (BEDIA), was to promote Botswana as a tourism and investment destination.

Sefhako had been working for the Department of Youth and Culture until she retired this year.

But she is still engaged in other cultural activities.

Sefhako says she is willing to share her skills with other people, including scholars researching on Tswana culture.

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