9 May 2016

Botswana: Polka Fire Keeps On Spreading

Khawa — A night of Polka dance is what many spectators look forward to when they get to the Khawa Dune Challenge and Cultural Festival.

The village that is charactirised by sand dunes, once in a year gets to be lively with motor bike sounds heared roaring all over the villages.

During the day, activities such as motor bike rides, stunts, dune races, tug of war, volleyball, camel rides and helicopter rides take place with spectators being spoilt for choice and also participate in.

Just before dawn, people are already gathered by the main arena and groups of polka dancers dressed to kill are seen making their way to the performers' tents.

As soon as the official proceedings are done, group after group of polka dancers start performance amongst ululations and screams from spectators in appreciation of the dance.

Various groups of the Kgalagadi district dance to Polka music as part of their culture as seen when they dance at wedding ceremonies and other celebrations.

Ever since the inception of the Khawa Dune Challenge and Cultural festival in 2012, polka dance has become one of the highly appreciated dances and is now commonly seen and embraced by various tribes in activities held across the country.

Though other tribes now show appreciation for the dance and are growing fond of it, the Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Frans Van der Westhuizen said he was concerned that the dance is losing its original form.

Van der Westhuizen, who is the Kgalagadi member of Parliament paid tribute to President Lt Gen. Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama saying his love for polka promoted the cultural dance from his constituency to the mainstream.

He said if it was not for the President polka would still be confined to the Kgalagadi and Gantsi areas.

He indicated that for years, Batswana from elsewhere did not know this traditional dance and the validation of polka dance came through president Khama.

"Thanks to President Khama, polka has now reached the mainstream. It is now being recognised as one of Botswana traditional dances ," he said.

He however expressed concern that as the dance keeps spreading across the country other traditional groups are diverting from the original dance.

He therefore said it was important for all other polka groups or anyone interested in dancing polka to be in touch with the original dancers so that they learnt exactly how the dance was done.

He is apprehensive that with too much beautification and adornment that is put on it, the Polka dance might end up being diluted and loosing its form.

A workshop and intense training on Polka he said, was the only way for people to learn to dance to the original polka.

He said it is important to also get in touch with the old people who from way back have been Polka dancers to teach the young stick to the original Nama step.

Khawa Kgosi Piet Manyoro also shared the same sentiments that it is very important for people who are interested in dancing Polka to fir



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