Botswana and Zimbabwe compare and exchange tourism notes
Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) this past Friday hosted a two-man delegation from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) on a four-day benchmarking exercise tour of Botswana. The exercise, which began on 19th until 22nd September 2017, saw the BTO taking the ZTA delegation through the various stages of quality services standards used for the grading and classifying of accommodation facilities; a feat which ended with an interaction session and lunch at the Bakhurutshe Cultural Village in Mankgodi this past Friday.
The Bakhurutshe Cultural Village is the brainchild of Mmankudu Glickman and Victoria Massey, and was primarily set up to preserve the culture of the Bahurutshe. Since 2005, the traditional hamlet has grown tremendously with regards to the preservation of Bahurutshe ethos and customs. The Bakhurutshe Cultural Village is both accessible from either the A10 Gaborone – Kanye road or Gaborone – Lobatse road, and a young drive will take visitors approximately 44km to reach the cultural spectacle nestled atop Mmankgodi.
Upon arriving here, one would simply be blown away by the rich cultural diversity that the place offers, among many, the viewing of the melodious and soothing traditional music videos such as that of Botswana’s jazzy songbird, Nnunu Ramogotsi including an array of television series which vividly indulges visitors about folktales and storytelling.
There’s just so much more for visitors and tourists visiting Bakhurutshe Cultural Village to indulge in, which include among other activities, getting a vivid insight into the Bahurutshe’s past and traditional ways and customs. Upon arrival, one would notice the matching traditional huts complete with their own Kgotla, a revered place where important decisions are made.
The BTO which is tasked with establishing and expanding local and international travel trade networks; saw it fitting to take their visiting Zimbabwean counterparts to Bakhurutshe Cultural Village for an apt taste of Botswana’s culture. Arriving here, visitors are required to wash their hands at the gate before entering the sacred place, where they are also regaled by a praise poet backed by some traditional melodies before one gets spoiled for choice in the daylong cultural demonstrations.
As it is custom, all visitors are welcomed by the chief to the mock-up village before a witchdoctor could throw his bones to crosscheck our intentions, which I must say, we had no reason to fret since our combined intention was to indulge in the Bahurutshe customs as well as to educate our Zimbabwean delegation about the varied Botswana cultures and traditions. During the bone throwing exercise by the traditional doctor, two bones from his sack moved afar from the rest, a thing which according to the witchdoctor signalled the two Zimbabwean visitors from ZTA.
All of us were stunned as we settled with ease before the chief richly shared the history of the Bakhurutshe village. The Zimbabwean tourism delegation was also shown the traditional processes of the Setswana marriage. As the chief explained in his narration, all girls in the past were married as virgins and should one test otherwise, it was abhorred and deemed an insult to her parents who were castigated for failing to guard and raise their maiden accordingly.
And for those of you who have always wondered why a traditional hut has a small window, dubbed seokomelabagwe in Setswana, it is said the window had a specific role, as the in-laws used it to observe the ‘honeymoon’ of the newlyweds a day before their wedding ceremony. While in modern day marriages, the honeymoon happens after marriage, in the past and according to Setswana culture the deed happened prior to the big day.
This, according to the chief was done so that the groom could indeed ascertain that his newly wedded bride was a virgin or otherwise. It is noted that from the mysterious virginity testing, the bride will then be accepted and told to do all the domestic chores in her new home the following morning.
Traditionally, newlyweds were given their own donkey cart, one of the oldest modes of transport in Botswana and Africa, which was conferred by the groom’s father on the groom to encourage him to plough for his family and the delegation from ZTA also experienced this. After the cultural village tour, which lasted almost 3 hours, the BTO and ZTA delegation headed for some sumptuous treat of the nicely prepared Setswana cuisine and traditional beer.
Glad and honoured by the visit, one of the owners, Mmankudu Glickman said over the years through her international travels, she had always liked the work ethic and welcoming smiles the Zimbabweans always had for their visiting guests. “In all nations, I think Zimbabweans have the best customer service followed by Malawi. I used to travel with the BTO when I was still one of their board members and this gave me perspective to finally conceptualize this centre.”
The Bakhurutshe Cultural Centre consist of campsites, a bar, and 8 chalets at P450 per night with dedicated full time staff.