Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bukhakhwe: Trust that never was

The tale behind the once lively and educational cultural place for the Basarwa of Bukakhwe is a sad one, not only for the locals but for the history and preservation of cultural heritage in Botswana. After realising how interesting and unique their culture was, residents of Gudigwa and Seshogora cattle post in the Okavango formed the Bukakhwe Cultural Conservation Trust (BCCT) in 1988 to preserve their heritage. The name of the trust, Bukakhwe, is a Sesarwa name referring to Basarwa who reside in a sandy area. Cultural conservation aside, the trust also wanted to promote tourism and diversify the economy through culture. Financial funding had been secured from Conservation International through which they constructed two craft shops and eventually employed villagers for the day to day activities of the trust. “We had a traditional guide who showcased and explained to tourists how indigenous herbs were used for medicinal purposes and as food ingredients. The professional guide on the other hand was there to advise on how to interact and live in harmony with wild animals around the area,” explains Mr Kefilwe Bombom, as he reminisces about the place that gave them a meaning and sense of belonging. The curio shops sold Sesarwa cultural items including beads made from ostrich eggs, leather products, paintings as well as bows and arrows. As would be expected, tourists got wind of the news and started pouring in, the trust accounts expanded. Just as the tourism Cinderella story was rapidly unwinding, the worst that could befall them happened, a veld fire ravaged the place and reduced it to ashes. “We lost most of our things in that fire, including one vehicle. Read more in the Daily News

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