Africa-Press – Botswana. Government is fully committed to ensuring that the diverse cultures of the nation are not only celebrated but equally safeguarded through national policies, strategies and international instruments, says Minister of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture, Mr Tumiso Rakgare.

Officiating at the commemoration of National Culture Day in Lecheng on Friday, Rakgare said mechanisms of protecting culture included the National Policy on Culture, Vision 2036, the Botswana Creative Industry Strategy, the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

“These and others, provide a broad framework for a conducive environment and strategic direction towards fostering culture as a vehicle not only for change, but for socio-economic development as well,” he said.

Rakgare said his ministry was mandated to drive the preservation, promotion and development of the arts and culture sector /creative industry in Botswana. He challenged communities in the area to turn their district into a cultural tourism hub thus creating employment opportunities for the youth and contributing to the diversification of the local economy.

Therefore, his ministry was undertaking a number of programmes, projects and structures supporting growth of the sector such as the National Culture Day, the popular National Arts Festival, Constituency Arts Competitions, the National Languages Day Commemoration, NOW! Channel Online Platform, Nna le Seabe Art Exhibition Arts and Culture Grants and through other cultural events.

He said that these programmes were intended to facilitate and strengthen the cultural and creative industries as well as to promote the role of culture in shaping personality and further support the economic dimension of culture, intercultural dialogue, mutual respect for culture and social cohesion.

He said in Palapye District, a total of 515 creatives have registered for the ongoing National Arts Festival. The numbers represented a satisfactory response.

He encouraged both the young and the elderly to participate in such programmes and take advantage of the available opportunities to transform their livelihood.

Rakgare said established cultural organisations such as Lentswe la Batswapong, Re Ribolola Ngwao of Majwaneng and others in the district play an important role in sensitising communities on the importance of safeguarding culture through community cultural festivals.

He encouraged the cultural organisations to work with his ministry to implement the 2003 Convention for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage.

“This entails undertaking research and documentation of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), which if properly done, will result in the effective transmission of our local culture, and a better appreciation of other cultures in the vicinity”, he said.

Mr Rakgare said to date, the North-East, Ghanzi, Kgatleng and Chobe Districts were currently implementing the 2003 Convention and experiencing positive results in terms of safeguarding of the different ICH elements.

He said in Chobe, the Seperu practitioners managed to transmit Seperu folkdance to primary school students and teachers, while in Kgatleng the master potters have likewise shared their knowledge and skills with primary school, secondary school students and out of school youth.

Rakgare said the move was a notable milestone considering the fact that there were only a few elderly women who were still potters such that the tradition could soon become distinct and disappear.

He therefore pleaded with the district to take up the challenge and in the process safe traditions and culture.

Rakgare said the Tswapong region was blessed with a rich cultural diversity and natural resources being the Tswapong Hills, Old Palapye Church ruins, Moremi Gorge and the Lecha la Lecheng.

“There is also Makosho trees, which are found in Lecheng thus distinguishing the village from other localities within the country,” he said.

Minister Rakgare also said that there were community trusts and organisations in the region that had been tasked with conservation of natural resources such as Moremi Trust, Manaledi Trust, Phothophotho Trust, Lecheng Trust and many others.

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