The quest to turn Manyana into a model of a smart village for the residents to derive economic benefit from its rich cultural heritage and tourism, got a boost when Kgosi Kebinatshwene Mosielele of Bahurutshi hosted a team from the University of Botswana for a site seeing expedition on June 6, 2022. The team comprised the Vice Chancellor, Professor David Norris, UNESCO Chair holder, Dr Susan Keitumetse and UB Stakeholder Relations Manager, Professor Jean Delport.
The visit to Manyana heritage and tourism sites is a sequel to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) the University of Botswana signed with Manyana Community Development Trust (MACODET) in September 2021. The University undertook to assist the trust realise its dream of turning Manyana Village into a model of smart village and derive economic benefit from these sites. UB and MACODET's partnership which also includes the University of Toronto in Canada, aims to promote global partnerships towards establishing a sustainable community driven inclusive economic growth in collaboration with government and other development partners.
Kgosi Mosiele explained during the recent UB team visit that among constraints to realise their dream was lack of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in village which was also hindrance to community development. As such, he appealed to the University of Botswana to assist in mobilizing investors to improve ICT Development in Manyana.
He underscored the need to partner with University of Botswana to mobilize expertise that could assist in establishing community projects aimed at creating employment opportunities for the residents. Highlighting the projects he envisioned, Kgosi Mosielele mentioned the solar energy system as one of the projects that could promote sustainable agricultural development to achieve food security in the village.
He added that they had more than 200 hectares of unused land that could be utilised to kickstart the solar project to power small industries such as milling production and horticulture. Furthermore, Kgosi Mosielele expressed the desire for UB to assist in the establishment and facilitation of fish farming as they had plenty of water sources. In addition, he said the partnership with UB would assist in promoting tourism in Manyana.
“We want to attracting tourists and investors as well as economic activities in Manyana,”said Kgosi Mosielele
Kgosi Mosielele said Manyana village was home to fascinating historic tales such as the Battle for Dimawe between Batswana and Boers in 1852. There are other breath-taking attractions such as Mmasechele Cave, a century old Livingston Tree, Rankepa Lake, perennial rivers, Manyana Plateau, water falls from natural springs and Mogale Gorge, that could be exploited for the benefit of both the community and the rest of the country.
Therefore, he said the University of Botswana could help document and package some of the historical events and Manyana’s beguiling culture for posterity and economic benefit. “We want to erect historical symbols at Dimawe to make sure the site is remembered as historical site and have a annual culture day at Dimawe,” reckoned Kgosi Mosielele.
Further, the UB help in the development of a curriculum for commercial traditional initiation school (Bogwera and Bojale) in the village. Kgosi Mosielele also said other opportunities that could be exploited for job creation in the village include opening a granite mine.
In response, Professor Norris applauded Kgosi Mosielele for taking advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the quality of life and standard of living for his community. Professor Norris assured Kgosi Mosiele full support in mobilising relevant stakeholder, government and non-government organisations for the different projects. He said part of UB’s mandate was community engagement and developing solutions to societal challenges.
UNESCO Chair holder, Dr Keitumetse, also assured Kgosielele support in mapping out the heritage sites, documenting and packaging historical events that happened in Manyana. She said Manyana village could also be used as a pilot area for community engagement given its proximity to Gaborone. Dr Keitumetse saw this as an opportunity for cultural exchanges with international students.