Dithubaruba: When Culture Attracts Tourism
The annual Bakwena cultural pilgrimage dubbed Dithubaruba Cultural Festival took place this past Saturday at the Ntsweng Heritage Site in Molepolole, filled with nothing but fun and pomp to the merriment of its loyal supporters from around the country including the country’s first citizen, President Seretse Khama Ian Khama. The annual festivity celebrates not only the Bakwena culture but also accords other Batswana tribes from every nook and cranny of our diverse country Botswana, a platform to showcase their varied customs through art, music, and literature from early Saturday morning until the following day, Sunday.
The excitement created by this event, in and around the Kweneng District Council (KDC) is without a single iota of doubt, immense.
Touted as Kweneng’s grandest cultural and musical gathering, Dithubaruba continues to raise the Molepolole brand higher and higher each year, becoming a traditional marvel for customary buffs from all walks of life, who each and every year come dressed to kill in bespoke, varied and colourful ceremonial dresses and draping thus adding the much-needed panache to the yearly occasion.
According to legend and history, Dithubaruba (dee-too-bah-ROO-bah), formerly Bakwena village, was a capital of the Kwena people (1853-1863), before they moved to the now Molepolole. Today, the stone ruins of the site are well preserved and can be reached by climbing the southern side of the hill, a short but meandering drive from the Molepolole main kgotla.
This year’s event, just like the past years was truly a marvel to attend thanks to the varied traditional music groups coming from in and around the country.
These groups displayed their musical and dancing prowess, from your traditional dikhwaere to your Khoisan-inspired Tsutsube, local favourite phathisi, President Khama’s cup of tea Polka and your general traditional dancing troupes.
However, prior to the day getting all frenzied, and before all and sundry got lost in song and the motley activities, elderly Bakwena women swathed in matching dijalenyana (traditional Tswana blankets) lined up colourfully for the coveted Dikgafela presentation to Kgosi Kgari Sechele III of Bakwena.
Dikgafela – a traditional harvest festival, is meant to appease the skies or ancestors (badimo) to release the rains, well in time before the looming ploughing season beckons.
There was just so much for everyone as throughout the day, the traditional music groups took turns serenading the gathered masses with their energetic and adept talents.
In between being regaled by these artistic ensembles, the gathered hoi polloi and the elites were also treated to some sumptuous traditional treats such as bogobe ba lerotse, seswaa sa kgomo, seswaa sa podi, koko ya Setswana, bojalwa ba Setswana, dinawa, morogo wa dinawa and many other wide-ranging and lip-smacking traditional delicacies.
There were also various handcrafts displayed and sold during the event. Besides the highly animated cheers and screams emanating from the copious crowd, generated by the skilful musical and dancing groups, the conduct and atmosphere here was a tranquil one.
Another great thing about this perky gathering was the constant visibility of the men in Blue (police officers from the Botswana Police Service) who all seemed adroit in manning every nook and cranny of the venue in an effort to quell any out of the blue incidents, whenever they arose. Kudos to you fellas!
Everybody felt safe, and continued to have fun unperturbed, more importantly that when night time came, the entire venue got floodlit with massive lights thus quashing any envisioned ill-behaved acts synonymous with events of this magnitude.
Quite gratifying also about this annual Bakwena festivity is the plausible fact that it promotes cultural tourism in the district and contributes significantly to the upliftment of social and economic factors among Bakwena communities. Until we meet again next year, you have been #Unplugged!