Botswana High Commission Cultural Open Day

21 February 2017

Tony Park writes books about Africa, I’ve read them all after I met him some years ago at the South African High Commission learning that he and his wife divide their time between Sydney and Southern Africa  where they own a Land Rover and a tent. I’d want just a bit more between me and the great outdoors anywhere in Africa and particularly in the cities! But among my summer pile of easy reading was his latest ‘The Delta’, a mighty tale centred on the Okavango in Botswana. Now that’s a place I want to visit and my love of Botswana has for many years been encouraged by  the High Commission in Canberra and their many and varied events I’ve attended; and the stories of that famous  Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency too. But I digress as the ennui of summer slowly dissipates.  

The very impressive Pula Hall at the Botswana High Commission has welcomed many for cultural occasions and celebrations of significant national events with generous hospitality and usually a bit of a knees up with their traditional music.

Now they’ve created a partnership with the Belconnen Arts Centre to bring together their traditional crafts with the extensive local craft community, comparing and sharing techniques and the history of the work from Botswana.

 To celebrate that collaboration Pula Hall was filled with traditional works displayed on the walls, on plinths in dugouts and stylishly grouped for impact. The visiting artisans from Botswana demonstrated their work and local members of diverse craft groups came to look and learn, share expertise and later to enjoy the traditional dancing of the Ngwao Letshwao Performing Arts Group.

The dancers had also performed for the National Multicultural Festival where the stall for the High Commission had the basket makers toiling patiently at their craft despite a rained on festival.

The craft of a country says much of the people, their environment and their artistic talent. Practical adaptation of the available materials, representation of their stories and above all creativity are all expressed with humour and happiness in their work, music, stories, traditions and history. And they want us all to go there.