Last weekend our CIEE excursion took us to Kanye—a large village just outside Gaborone. Although Kanye is the second largest village in the country, it’s a completely different experience from city life. Even though I’ve been in Botswana for over a month now, I had no idea what to expect. I realized that even though I’ve learned a lot about life in Gabs since I got here, I haven’t had any exposure to other aspects of the country.
Luckily, CIEE made it possible for us to stay with host families in Kanye for four days while we learned about local culture and lifestyles. When we arrived, we had a lovely welcome ceremony where we were introduced to our host families and warmly welcomed into the village. After going shopping at the local store, my host mom and her sister took me to meet a close friend. It was great to spend time just laughing and chatting in a casual environment.
The next day, we dressed in long skirts and head wraps to prepare for our visit to the Kgotla! The Kgotla is a traditional space where community members settle local issues and civil disputes—similar to a town hall or community court. The Chief, or Kgosi, listens to issues that people bring forward and helps settle disagreements. It was great to learn more about these traditional systems which are still recognized by law and used today for everything other than criminal cases. The next morning, we went to Motse Lodge where we were able to learn about all kinds of cultural activities! Under the guidance of local women, we learned to make Phaphata (a delicious local bread), grind Sorghum by hand, weave baskets, and even mix soil and cow dung to build traditional walls and houses. It was amazing to learn these local crafts and gain a greater appreciation for how much work goes into everyday tasks that we usually take for granted. Afterwards, we went for a hike at a beautiful nearby gorge. Some of the locals will go there to light prayer candles or bathe in the waters which are believed to have healing powers.
After a delicious lunch at the lodge, we each went home to spend some quality time with our host families! Some people went to visit their family’s farm or cattle post, while others were able to attend local funerals or weddings. It was a unique and amazing opportunity to get a personal view into village life. I enjoyed attending a wedding and then experiencing some of the local nightlife with my host aunt.
The next morning, many students chose to attend church with their families while other relaxed at home. I had an amazing time playing and cooking with my young host siblings. It was wonderful to really feel like part of a local family. Having one last delicious lunch with my family was a perfect ending to my weekend in Kanye.