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Oldest shop preserves Gulubane culture

The shop has received its fair share of battering by weather elements for many years now. What remains of it is the wall and the roof that appears to have been gone for quite some time. 

This old shop cannot be missed as it is situated strategically as one enters the north eastern village of Gulubane from the Francistown/Maun road junction. The village’s main kgotla and the tarred feeder road from the junction are within metres of the shop.

Trading in all forms of merchandise occurred here in the early 1970s. There was no other shop; hence everyone in the village and surrounding lands would come to this shop owned at the time by the Motlhabani and Mafika families, to buy whatever they needed.

Groceries, farm implements, hardware and any and everything were sold here. Sixty-three-year-old Montle Mathanga remembers vividly her days as a shop assistant at this shop as if it was just yesterday.

Seated in her retirement home and whiling away time with her children and grandchildren in the chilly winter mid-morning, Ms Mathanga goes down the memory lane and narrates how they did things then.

“We did not use plastics then but brown paper to wrap goods such as bread and sugar for our customers,” she reminisces.

Their bookkeeping was mostly done in exercise books, and there were never any stock shortages that has become synonymous with modern day shops and supermarkets.

Ms Mathanga joined the shop in 1969 until 1971 when she got married and family life meant she had to part ways with the establishment.

She recalls that after the Motlhabani and Mafika families left it, the Hattingh family came on board until it was eventually abandoned around the 1990s.

“Ne re rekisa matsela a jeremane le khalikho re dira malauso a sekolo. Sekale ne re dirisa se se fa se o se pegang ditshipi tsa boima,” she notes, meaning, for weighing items they used balance scales that used weight.

The shop’s concrete counters are also no longer there and what is left is the structure of where they once were and the white paint is still intact.

But this shop is about to get a face lift if plans of the village leadership can see the light of the day. Kgosi Ezekiel Gulubane and the Village Development Committee (VDC) have huge plans for it.

They have managed to convince the land board to allocate it to the village so they can turn it into a museum that will showcase their rich history and culture.


“We have tried to seek funding through the VDC and the project is currently stalled as there are no funds available,” the 50-year-old chief notes.

A former manager with an electronic company, Samsung, Kgosi Gulubane says they want to see the shop that often teemed with people from all over the area turned into a museum.

The idea is fueled by the envisaged Ntimbale Dam tourism projects and they want to use the opportunity to attract visitors or tourists en route to the dam so that they could learn about their culture.

“I believe our village can receive many tourists who are headed for Ntimbale Dam and we want to establish a trust that will handle these issues,” he notes.

Such a project would help in creating employment for the locals as well as earn money for the VDC, which would in turn be used to further develop this village, which lies on the outskirts of Shashe River, he says.

Fixing his eyes on a piece of paper in front of him in his kgotla office, Kgosi Gulubane narrates that the village, with a population of 897, was established in 1911 by his great grandparents and currently boasts of some modern day developments, with a Turnkey house being built just next to the kgotla offices.

The museum would also showcase their rich agriculture history, which indicates their survival instincts. There is also a VDC garden that Kgosi Gulubane would like to see turned into a viable project that would use irrigation methods to produce food for the locals.

Other projects that they envisage include a bakery, although the lack of funds means most of these are stalled.

Once the economy comes out of the woods, the Gulubane museum and other projects would add shape to this village, hopefully. ENDS

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