University of Botswana and Kgatleng District Collaborate to Safeguard Intangible Cultural Heritage

ICH1University of Botswana Department of History recently met with Kgatleng District Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Committee to explore ways through which they can collectively contribute to the preservation and development of cultural heritage. This was the second meeting following the one held in March 2020 in the University.

Kgatleng ICH Committee is mandated by the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development to coordinate community ICH activities in conjunction with its district office.

The committee’s membership includes Kgosi Segale Linchwe as chairperson, Kgatleng District Commissioner as deputy chairperson with Phuthadikobo Museum serving as the secretariat. Other members are chairpersons of the Village Development Committees (VDC), Dikgosana from the five Kgatleng District clusters, ICH experts and representatives of various community sections such as women, performers, cultural activists and artists.

The committee’s two successful activities are the listing of the Earthenware Pottery Making Skills in Kgatleng District and Dikopelo Folk Music of Bakgatla ba Kgafela in Kgatleng District on the UNESCO 2003 List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

Welcoming participants, Faculty of Humanities Acting Deputy Dean, Dr Goabilwe Ramaeba, commended Kgatleng District ICH committee for working together with UB so that it assisted with experts, knowledge and skills in safeguarding cultural heritage for the benefit of the community. Dr Ramaeba reckoned the partnership as part of UB’s mandate of developing solutions to societal challenges. She said UB offered short courses in local languages such as iKalanga, Setswana and Shekgalagari. She further assured the committee the introduction of new short courses on culture and heritage in future as part of their input towards promoting and safeguarding ICH.

Head of the department of History, Dr Boga Monatsha, said the partnership with Kgantleng ICH committee was in line with the newly implemented UB strategy of enhancing economic and social engagement and impact to the nation. He said the importance of intangible cultural heritage was not cultural manifestation but the wealth of knowledge and skills that was transmitted through it from one generation to the next.

Dr Monatsha also decried the absence of indepth local history subjects in the curriculum for both primary and secondary schools. He appealed to Kgatleng ICH committee members to act as one unit in campaigning for the introduction of indepth local History subjects in schools. He further called for a formalised relationship between UB and Kgatleng District ICH committee.

Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development Kgatleng District Coordinator, Mr Gobonaone Ramoupo, said promotion, preservation and development of cultural heritage was part of the ministry’s portfolio responsibilities.

Mr Ramoupo said since joining 2003 ICH Convention, the ministry had engaged in community outreach and research to implement UNESCOICH recommendations on safeguarding ICH.

Giving an overview of Kgatleng District ICH activities, National ICH expert, Mr Bathusi Lesolobe, said the regional committees’ mandate was to ensure implementation of the UNESCO convention. He noted that regional committees were chaired by dikgosi based on their wealth of knowledge on culture while District Commissioners acted as assistants.

Mr Lesolebe said ICH practitioners played an important role in the production, safeguarding, maintenance and re-creation of intangible cultural heritage, thus helping to enrich cultural diversity and human creativity. He said committee members comprised members representing oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge as well as the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.

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