Zhizha Cultural Festival Grows

| June 11, 2015

The third edition of the annual Zhizha cultural festival held over the weekend (June 6-7) has shown tremendous growth from smaller crowds at inception in 2013 to record attendance this year.

Held at Kuminda Farm in Marobela, the festival, whose objective was to celebrate good harvest, had patrons eating from their palms in terms of Bakalanga traditional music, poetry, cuisines and cultural exchange, in particular, electric performances by Hosanna groups.

The 2015 edition was also special in that a Sesarwa dance troupe from Lepashe took part in the festivities. Other groups that entertained revelers included Mindumbi from Jackalas 2 and Itekeng from Nswazwi.

Mindumbi, a Hosanna dance troupe led by energetic 78-year-old Basetse Mamo had patrons asking for more as she defied his age by not showing any sign of slowing down. The group demonstrated a rain praying ritual, while the Sesarwa group demonstrated how women prepared mogwana (wild berries) to feed their families.

The Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO), Botswana Insurance Company (BIC) and Botswana Life were also part of the event Botswana Insurance Company went further by buying tickets.

Those who attended were also treated to a sumptuous snack from the harvest such as dried sweet reed and morula nuts from the morula tree. Traditional food such as dobi, thophi, mokoto, madila, chimoni, traditional beer, and bogobe, were also galore for patrons.

Former Tatitown customary court president, Ludo Mosojane also shared information on how Bakalanga in the past respected their homes and women. She cautioned young girls to conduct themselves in a befitting manner if they want to find better suitors in marriage.

She also cautioned men who are in the habit of abusing or killing their women partners simply because of cellphone messages they deem unwanted to desist from the habit.

As it has become customary, the Kalanga jazz great, Ndingo Johwa brought the curtain down on an eventful day by belting out his signature melodies which had both the young and old on the dance floor.

For revelers, Zhizha cultural festival has in some ways transformed from a day when people eat and dance to one where the event has become the ultimate cultural tourism holiday for its entire duration.

Not only does one leave the place happy but they also leave with a wealth of knowledge on how people lived in the past and how they adapted to and utilised the environment to enrich their culture.

Attending the Zhizha cultural feast is a life changing experience, despite the event being crammed into eight hours on a single day.

It indeed transforms a reveler from a jaded worker who seeks to move away from routine into a free spirit and opens their mind through music, art, poetry and performance.

The scenery where the festival takes place has striking features in that it is set on an area with small hills and an array of shrubs.

The traditional Bakalanga huts and courtyards have also been decorated with artistic variations using natural resources.

The decorations are based on the local people’s own aesthetic perspectives and traditions. The beautiful home of the Zhizha cultural festival has been built not only by readily available materials and local techniques, but also with love and passion which reflect the aesthetic soul of the people building and living inside of these homes.

The Bakalanga people in the past built their houses entirely of local materials, soil, wood and cow dung, with the soil cow dung mixed and moistened to a state of perfect plasticity to shape vertical surfaces.

The sophisticated wall decors had been given a finishing touch using cow dung and wood ash from the fire place, a treasured building material in traditional societies from a long time ago.

This aspect of the cultural festival has enhanced its reputation as it not only focuses on the yield from the ploughing season but rather incorporates all aspects of the agricultural nature of the Bakalanga people.

Most of those who were attending the cultural feast for the first time were taken aback by the incorporation of traditional architecture as evidenced by the elaborately decorated walls of homes and how this was blended with the dominant economic activity of the area – subsistence agriculture.

This rich Bakalanga cultural tradition which dates back to many years ago is an important aspect of their cultural legacy.

Wall decorating itself is not an individual pursuit, it is mostly a communal effort undertaken by women and dates back to many centuries in traditional African societies.

The organiser of the Zhizha cultural festival, Lucy Hinchcliffe was elated at the turnout of the event and the support that she received this year from corporate organisations and the media.

“The show went well and a lot of people are beginning to appreciate it because it serves as a tool for cultural re-awakening,” she said.

The feedback that she received from patrons, she highlighted, was good she also explained that she wanted to organise more cultural shows at Kuminda Farm so that people could learn and understand how life was like in the past.

Another aspect of the festival, she noted, was to promote artists from the northern part of Botswana as currently more attention seemed to be given to those in the South.

In addition, she mentioned that she was driven by passion to promote culture, hence her insistence on original traditional musicians and music groups which take part in Zhizha.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Business & Finance

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