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Treasure in Kanye historical sites

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Enlisting of historical sites and buildings is a continuous process. New monuments are added to the burgeoning inventory of tourism attraction points as and when they are identified.

Speaking in a special interview Kgosi Bathoen II Memorial Museum’s curator, Ms Onkgopotse Pule, said enlisting of historical sites and buildings of significance was paramount because they helped people to understand and respect those who lived with divergent habits and traditions.

She said cultural heritage sites improved economic landscape of the southerners as well as providing a platform for preservation of culture.

Innovation in architecture is extremely important, she said, but preserving and restoring the old buildings was morer important because those old monuments were the reflection of people’s history.

Monuments come in many different shapes and sizes, from beautiful scenic landscapes to archaeological sites going back to the Stone Age.

One of the most scenic routes in southern Botswana is the Gaborone to Kanye drive approximately 80 kilometres southwest of Gaborone. The road gently climbs and descends, giving entrance to gently rolling grasslands rich in trees and shrubs, picturesque landscapes of agricultural lands and grazing livestock, and tiny villages nestled between rock-strewn hills.

However, research shows a synopsis of cultural heritage sites among others the Polokwe Viewpoint, situated about 10 kilometres north of Kanye and gives a breath-taking view of the northern valley, particularly at sunrise and sunset.

From the Sebako gorge, near Seepapitso Secondary School, interesting, and beautiful, walks can be taken – lush in vegetation, with good birding possibilities. Stone wall settlements are also visible along the way.

According to oral history, the gorge is the place where the Bangwaketse hid from Mzilikazi’s Ndebele raids in the area.

Just north of the village and near the Mmakgodumo dam lies a bird sanctuary. Also in the area sprawls pharing gorge that adds an impetus to the beauty of the village.

Kanye main kgotla is full of interesting historical buildings, including the former residence of Kgosi Bathoen I, the original tribal offices, built in 1914 by Seepapitso III, and nearby, the former residence of the late Kgosi Bathoen II.

As well, there are several old churches to explore, the oldest being the London Missionary Church, built in 1894. The proper courtesy is to first go to the kgotla offices and inform officials that you wish to visit the kgotla, at which point you will be warmly welcomed and shown around.

Another conspicuous monument is the Mmalekwa Royal and prominent people cemetery where some of the royalties were laid to rest. It is also a resting place for first white settlers: missionaries, pastors, traders, platoons and police officers.

King George V Memoral Hall built by Kgosi Bathoen II over the years served as a primary and secondary school of which nowadays is a multi-purpose facility is an eye catching monument that is in the limelight. Trails of Kgosi Bathoen II also include erected silos that transforms into a memorable visual experience, is one of the legacy he left behind among others.

Ms Pule said they were doing everything in their power to encourage Batswana to partake in tourism activities.  

She said they created awareness in communities to take advantage of the scenic beauty of Kanye and surrounding areas to carve out a niche as the village is strategically positioned along the Trans-Kalahari corridor that is used by tourists coming in and out of the country.

She was optimistic that through flea markets, exhibitions and public lectures to create an ambience for tourism more Batswana would enrol in tourism to create employment for themselves and other citizens.

She said the rich tourism of Kanye when taken care of has potential to take the industry to another level.

Transforming Botswana into a knowledge based economy would equip citizens with business acumens to enhance the level of tourism in the country, she said imploring Batswana to apply their knowledge and minds in harvesting the best that come with tourism.

She is of the view that given that tourism management and related fields are incorporated into the school curriculum would help students acquire knowledge of tangible culture thus upcoming generations can learn about the past, compare current situations with the past to pave way for the future.

The National Monuments and Relics Act of 2001 ensures that the sites are adequately protected therefore tampering with cultural heritage or historical sites of national value is an offence punishable by law.

Tourists flood Kanye to enjoy the beauty of nature and while away time as the vegetation blend well with the picturesque landscape of the village, she said.

Ms Pule shared that Bangwaketse who are studying abroad as far as United Kingdom and Italy come back home to conduct research projects on historical sites and buildings of significance in the region.

She said the museum takes advantage of the annual Mmakgodumo cultural event which draws people from all walks of life and corners of the World to exhibits artifacts, help organize the event as well as provide information on exhibited products.

The event also presents an opportunity for Bangwaketse to sell their products, observing cultural tourism has potential to change the economic landscape of the southerners.

She is of the view that cultural tourism creates a platform for cultural exchange, business ideas and networking that would improve the livelihood of residents.    

She said there is need to construct footpath, stairways, stair rails and hand rails at historical sites to meet the World’s best practice in tourism that would ease access of authorized visits to protected areas.

She added that such a facility would help curtail the negative effects tourism can have on a natural environment as well as protecting tourists from falling and injuring themselves in the process as they may lose footing on their way or when walking.

As for stair rails they protect people from falling over the edge of a platform or staircase. Handrails are also an important safety feature in tourism to assist users maintain their balance and prevent falls on stairs.

She also spoke of the need to erect security fences to restrict unauthorized access to protected areas.

However, Kanye Records Centre’s Principal Records Manager II Mr Andrew Phologolo told BOPA that documentation of enlisted historical sites and buildings of significance or protected cultural heritage sites benefit Batswana and tourists in numerous ways: they are memory of Botswana societies as well as luring points of contact for tourists thus have monetary benefits to change topography of the economy.

He said documentation of historical sites and buildings benefit Batswana in providing the basis of decision making and governance in the management of historical sites citing there could be available information on the past preservation strategies used on the management of the sites.

Therefore, he said, this could be used to facilitate new preservation strategies and improve the management of the sites.

Mr Phologolo said monuments could be used as symbols of community cohesion, citing Tsodilo Hills have religious symbols and learning about such could reinforce future generations or young people’s beliefs on their past.

He said documentation of historical sites provides information to tourists’ destinations they are visiting or intend to visit.

He said researchers, and scholars especially from local institutions utilise records centre facilities, noting as for University of Botswana scholars they engage them in various activities as a way of encouraging them to make use of the facility.

He said the department has engaged in a robust publicity plan or an outreach programme that would raise awareness for people to utilise their services that have potential to buoy up Batswana to partake in tourism to better their lives though the department does not have a direct responsibility of encouraging Batswana to partake in tourism.

He noted such a move would include presentations to primary, secondary and tertiary schools as well as exhibitions and making use of media platforms at their disposal to achieve their objective.

He said the department’s mandate is to collect, preserve and provide access to the nation’s documentary heritage of which could help in transforming Botswana into a knowledge based economy to great extent that comes with benefits. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Keith Keti

Location : KANYE

Event : Interview

Date : Jun 03 Mon,2019

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