Culture enthusiasts gathered around the fireplace at the National Museum in Gaborone this past Wednesday, among them Minister of Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama, BTO Chief Executive Officer, Thabo Brian Dithebe, as well as his honour the Japanese Ambassador, Masahiro Onishi to celebrate the existence of diverse cultures that exist in the country and the role they play in the tourism sector.
The month of September has been set aside as a month of tourism. As such, BTO found it de rigueur to host some of the cultures that are found in Botswana at a well attended event held at the National Museum. Different groups were represented during the night to show their culture through dress codes, food tasting and as well exhibitions of their traditional artefacts.
To break the ice at the beginning of the eventful night was none other than Dr Rogers Molefi who spoke on length highlighting the History of Botswana. He made mention of the famous Queens Road as well as the Princess Marina Hospital and how the idea behind naming them.
An old scholar and historian of repute, Rogers vividly witnessed Botswana taking independence in 1966 and recalls the eve when the first President Seretse Khama danced with Princess Marina at the Town Hall. “I don’t know if you were there or whether you know that your father was a dancer, Minister,” he said to Minister Tshekedi Khama who was accompanied by his wife.
The centre of attraction however was the Japanese community who came in numbers led by his honour Ambassador Masahiro Onishi. Dressed in their cultural ceremonial dresses, they came in carrying Mikoshi- a mini shrine which is used during festivals and is respected as a shrine place.
Mikoshi is carried by men screaming all the way following their leader. Attendees also had the opportunity to have a taste of Sadou- a traditional ceremonial tea which is served to guests. Over hundred years ago it was only the Samora or warrior, who was allowed to make the tea, but nowadays even ladies can make it, but it is still very much respected among the Japanese society.
Other communities who came to showcase at the night were Zimbabweans who exhibited their staple food being Mazondo- which is cow hives served with Maguru (Mogodu) and Sadza (phaletshe). They also displayed their traditional artefacts such as pots, and basketry. Kenyans also showed their song and dance before serving people with their famous chipati and spice rice with a meat mix.
However Gabane comedian Mawee, did not disappoint as he killed it when he took to stage his hilarious jokes that left everyone in stitches. His jokes, mostly imitating President Khama with his horrendous Setswana accent, left younger brother Tshekedi and the wife laughing their lungs out.
There were however moments when the Minister had to interpret to his wife who missed out on most of the jokes which were in Setswana. He later took a swipe at BOPA photographer Phenyo Moalosi who was positioning himself to take shots of the comedian. For some time, the photographer was victim of the funny man, with the focus now shifted from the president.
Towards the end of the night, everyone including Tshekedi went on the dance floor to dance to the tunes of Polka music. The dance which was popularised during the President’s competitions had many in awe; as even the Japanese present were excited by it and went on to film the whole dance.
Beauty pageant queen Babedi Isaka will see her brain child, Mr & Miss Captivating finally come to life on August 22nd this year. Isaka enunciated that Mr & Miss Captivating is a home-grown pageant open for both international and local contestants between the ages of 16 and 26.
She went on that the pageant will open doors for contestants to get more out of life by teaching the contestants multiple life skills such as etiquette and boosting self-esteem. Isaka’s first stint was fashion modelling in 2016 and later on ventured into pageantry in 2018 to date.
She has several tittles under her belt. Among them being; a Miss Botswana 2021 top 16 Finalist and the most recent one being Miss Teen Africa 2nd Princess 2022. She believes her immense experience and the partnerships she has are a perfect fit to make the event a success.
On what inspired the pageant and the name, Isaka highlighted “A queen or king should influence and dominate by some special charm, art, or trait and having an irresistible appeal in society. Thus ‘captivating’ “
The pagent is expected to give back to the community by empowering the boy and girl child with life skills. Isaka noted that some of the ways women mark their place in the world is through beauty pageants as often times, tittle holders get involved in some form of social work.
“The majority of beauty queens use their offices to get involved with NGO’s or individual established projects during the cause of their reign. For some queens, these projects span the period of their reign and for others it becomes a life time thing.” She highlighted.
To Isaka an ideal Mr. & Miss Captivating is pictured as a leader and should have the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose that will serve communities for the greater good as well as being in possession of a character which inspires others.
The stereotype on the street is that pageants set unrealistic standards for women of all ages. Young girls and boys often try to live up to these standards and mature into adults complexing about their bodies and men who demand their wives or girl friend to look like beauty pageant participants.
Isaka however is a body image champion. She is of the belief that pageantry does not degrade women. In her own words “Pageants promote goal setting and truly inspire a contestant to search their soul, think about the future and plan on how to get there” adding that “There is nothing rarer, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself by being comfortable in her perfect imperfection. That is also why we have men as contestants, to clear the stereotype that pageantry objectifies women.”
Still on the matter of controversy and stereotype, when asked about the swim suit segment of pageants that always causes an uproar. Isaka confirmed Mr & Miss Captivating will have the swim suit segment emphasising “as an aspiring beauty queen, it is very important for women to be healthy and comfortable in their own skin.
The swimsuit round in pageants helps women love their unique build and instils discipline in working towards their fitness goals.” Mr & Miss Captivating has so far rallied 10 sponsors among them; beauty parlours, clothing lines and news media. The event will be hosted by local comedian and unisex model, Troy April. The standard ticket is selling for P300 while the VIP goes for P450.
Her mystery is not just the large bodies of water with isolated islands rich in the beauty of flora and fauna in this tourism gateway – this internationally renowned travel capital, has a strong sense of history, some sort of hidden purpose and legacy which plays with one’s senses as they explore the mighty Chobe River.
From Cresta Mowana, the Cresta Marakanelo flagship, the richness of Chobe has no better panoramic views. Tales and legends are shared about the islands in the area. Sedudu in particular once a subject of fierce dispute between Botswana and Namibia arouses interest from residents and visitors alike.
Some say the reasons for territorial dispute of the some 30 plus years ago was because of the unknown mysteries the island carries. As residents and visitors sit by the fire at the Boma the tales of the area can stretch until morning.
“Why fight for a piece of island no men can live in?” whispers one senior citizen who referred to himself as Rra Mabala as he rolled his traditional tobacco on a piece of old newspaper. “In the olden days we believed that the Chobe is home of spirituality. Those that were lost would find their way by simply appreciating her beauty. When you come here no matter your life’s troubles, when you leave you will find your way. The white man comes every year because he knows this,” he notes.
I set my sights to Cresta Mowana this past November. Its unique architecture which blends African tradition in wooden pillars, stone and thatch is a welcome contrast to the four-star amenities that make the likes of Prince Harry and many other international guests feel at home in the middle of the bush.
The balconies provide a sensational feel of Mother Nature at its best with the lush of green giving a carpet of green rare in our arid region nationwide. Chobe gives you an escape. The Serondela Restaurant is located adjacent to the river and makes meals much a delight and a platform of meeting new friends and mazing conversations.
For me the beauty was swimming in the wild. You guessed it wrong I do not mean swimming in the Chobe the Clarence Spa Infinity pool is about 30 meters away from the mighty river. As I swam overlooking this masterpiece of nature I remembered just why touring at home has so much meaning.
I looked for the fortune Rre Mabala spoke of in the hope that I find my path like so many who had come before come before my time. I realized that probably finding your way was not magic in the sense of Harry Porter novels but rather a renewed sense of self and relaxation which makes one put things into perspective.
The crisp air of being nestled and enveloped in nature with all things green made me realize just why the hotel group invested over BWP3 million in revamping the executive and presidential suites. The mighty Chobe River has an endless charm.
Visit Namibia from 500 meters away as you cruise the river on a boat. Make sure you choose a responsible company for this who have vetted captains. I enjoyed swimming in the wild. This Easter I may just do a revisit.
American travel online company TripAdvisor, Inc. has ranked 10 of Cresta Marakanelo Limited (CML) hotels amongst the top 10% of hotels in the world during the recently published Travellers’ Choice awards.
The properties awarded the TripAdvisor 2022 Travellers Choice Awards include Cresta Bosele, Cresta Botsalo, Cresta Marang Gardens, Cresta Mahalapye, Cresta Maun, Cresta President, Cresta Thapama, and from Zimbabwe, Cresta Churchill, Cresta Oasis and Cresta Sprayview.
Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel guidance platform*, helps hundreds of millions of people each month** become better travellers, from planning to booking to taking a trip. “You are in the top 10% of hotels worldwide, congratulations.
Every year trip advisor recognizes businesses that have demonstrated a commitment to hospitality excellence with a traveller’s choice award- and- this year you made the list. That means you’ve earned consistent great reviews, so keep it up. Good job, and congratulations on your well-received win, (sic)” stated a communication from the TripAdvisor, Inc. head offices.
The Travellers’ Choice awards honour travellers’ favourite destinations, hotels, restaurants, things to do, and beyond, based on the reviews and opinions collected from travellers and diners around the world on TripAdvisor over 12 months. Travellers’ Choice recognizes businesses that earn consistently great reviews.
The news brought excitement to the Cresta Marakanelo Limited (CML) camp which has since been motivated by the development, “This nomination is a step in the right direction, it reflects that our local and international clientele has trust in the CML brand, services, and products.
All the gratitude for this development goes to our clientele, CML has some of the busy properties in the country and region, our strategic plan has always been to provide quality products and services,” said CML Managing Director Mokwena Morulane.
Over the years CML has been a home to local and international visitors who have left impressive reviews after receiving world class hospitality. It has a long history of serving travellers who seek authentic African experiences as well as modern comforts.
“As one of the leading hotel and tourism players in the country, we always strive to provide the best in true African hospitality. This has motivated us to work hard and continuely innovate our services. hopefully, next time more of our properties will be ranked amongst some of the best hotels in the world,” concluded the CML Managing Director.