Domboshaba Festival and Tour

Updated: January 28, 2014

The theme of this year’s Kalanga cultural festival in Domboshaba, Botswana was ‘Ikalanga kutanga’ (Kalanga first).

The representatives of Zimbabwe’s Kalanga Language & Cultural Development Association (Tshidzanani Malaba, Arnold Hlomani and Mr Stonehouse Maphosa) attended on September 27 and had the opportunity to go on an executive tour where they were driven to Tjizwina village (now written as Sebina in Setswana).

Domboshaba officials said the name corruption is causing a lot of unease to the locals. In the same locality there is a BB1 (Botswana Boarder 1) old detention room which was used by the Bamangwato to imprison baKalanga who were not willing to submit to their rule in 1940s.

Also part of the tour was ‘Mpani waSeretse’, an ancient tree where Seretse Khama used to take a rest whenever he was in buKalanga area. He used to carry out campaigns among the baKalanga people. The tree was however burnt to ashes in 2011 when government workers protested for salary increment to the current government of Ian Khama.

Nearby is Makuta Village which was a trade centre for baKalanga and the San community. The word “kuta” means to look sad. The name came about because the traders could not communicate with each other due to language barrier between tjiKalanga and the San language.

Traders would sit there quietly until they could identify fellow traders with products of interest. Sign language would be used to seal deal. The San community traded biltong, wild animal hides and wild fruits while baKalanga would trade off grain and tools.

The tour then proceeded to Nswazwi Royal Cemetery where the history of the Nswazwi people was explained dating from 1940s.  Some of the places toured are an ancient cattle kraal and first London Missionary Society School.

The group also saw a natural well called Mantenge an ancient and sacred well which remarkably formed in a granite rock, and is claimed to be home of a legendary spiritual snake ‘nkabayile’.  The well is believed to be 7 to 30 meters deep and it is also suspected to have a horizontal channel that goes under the surface granite.

After the tour, came the main event of the day, the festival, where there was an exhibition of a variety of Kalanga cultural dances, poems, songs and drama. The guest speaker was from University of Botswana, Professor Prof Lydia Nyati-Saleshando.

In her speech she emphasized the need to promote local languages in child development. She hails from marginalized language as well in Botswana and she has been pivotal in voicing for the promotion of marginalized languages even at United Nations forums.

It was made clear that since 1972 Botswana does not allow the teaching of Kalanga language or any other local language in schools except Setswana.

The gathering also assessed the progress made in the promotion of Ikalanga in the past in Botswana. It indicated that there was very little progress from government which has shown no signs of cooperation.

It was also noted that Botswana government has not ratified any United Nations conventions on the promotion of marginalized languages and was not willing to do so.

It was then resolved in part that government must be taken to court over the teaching and learning of Kalanga.

Mr T. Malaba was given the opportunity to speak about how far Zimbabwe has gone constitutionally in recognising minority languages including Kalanga. He outlined the successes of KLCDA ever since it was formed.

These successes include the writing of Kalanga primary books, Zimbabwe constitution written in Kalanga, organising and hosting of cultural festivals and the promotion and recognition of Kalanga language by the Zimbabwean government.

The festival ended with a mouth-watering feast of traditional Kalanga dishes and a little bit of modern food.




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