Over the past weekend I went with the students to Mankgodi and Manyana villages less than an hour from the capital city, Gaborone. The two villages despite being so close to the urban capital of the city proved themselves the few true custodians of our culture and history. We were welcomed to Bahurutshi cultural lodge by the proud old ladies of the Bahurutshi tribe of which it is named, ululations and incantations met us as we arrived. After having breakfast which incorporated both traditional and modern dishes, we headed off to the rock paintings in Manyana village, we were told how these pictures told stories of war, hunting expeditions and messages from the ancestors. After that we walked to Livingston tree, a very old and large tree where the first missionary to arrive in Botswana used to treat patients and teach people how to read and write. At around midday we went to a picnic lunch where we were treated to a delicious array of dishes that catered for all. We went back to Bahurutshi lodge where we rested in anticipation for the evening’s events.
Late afternoon we gathered at the kgotla where the students were introduced to the customary court system of Botswana. There was also a reenactment of the Dikgafela ceremony where villagers would bring a part of their harvest to the village chief to give thanks to the ancestors for the rains and harvest. A few of the students got a chance to take part in the ceremony as they strutted in traditional khiba and mogagolwane which is worn by women when they are in the kgotla. After that a traditional dance group performed a piece which infused the dances of several tribes found in Botswana and to end it all one of the old ladies regaled us with stories of her youth and how they used to things. We finally retreated to our rooms after supper to end the night with a bit of star gazing.
Early Sunday morning we had our breakfast, said our goodbyes and headed off to Mokolodi game reserve just 15 minutes away from Gaborone (depending on traffic lol). We got a tour of the reptile park from the very enthusiastic guide who referred to one of the house snakes as his baby. Welcome drinks were served after which we headed off for a game drive. We then arrived at a picnic spot at the edge of a beautiful lake where we served with probably the best meal we had had thus far and an even better view. It was finally time to go back home, as we drove off to the city and the well-preserved guardians of our history and beauty became even more distant I realized that I’d learnt something too.