Dancers at Dithubaruba Cultural Festival

Dithubaruba Cultural Festival

This time each year I go to the Evergreen State Fair. I almost never miss it and usually end up going at least two times. Unfortunately, I can’t teleport myself back to Washington State from Africa (Scotty really wasn’t helping me out), but I did get to go to the Molepolole version of the state fair. The Dithubaruba cultural festival was a small event in a very rural part of Molepolole. There weren’t any landmarks to be seen. We were just in a very sandy, relatively open clearing where they had set up tents, bleachers, a stage, a Kgotla, and a traditional home. We arrived at 8:30 in the morning and the event didn’t actually start until the village chief (Kgosi) got there. So nothing happened until 10:30. However, they were playing music. So a big group of us crazy Americans and our native language and cultural teachers spent nearly two hours dancing and then sitting down when we thought the Kgosi had arrived; dancing, sitting down, dancing, sitting down, and so on. Even though we were being watched (and filmed) like we were crazy people, it was a ton of fun and kept us warm because it was a particularly chilly morning. When it was clear the various Kgosis (there’s one for each ward and tons of wards) had officially arrived, some of the men were asked to stand by the Kgotla (the Kgosi’s meeting area). The Kgosis then walked through the audience followed by a procession of ladies carrying baskets or in one case big clay urns filled with traditional beer. After the procession of the Kgosis, there were traditional dances. I wasn’t feeling great, so I ended up taking a walk and only got to see one of the dances. There were also booths around the event selling things like art, jewelry, bags, ceramic work, shoes, clothes, and other locally made items. I purchased a pair of earrings made from cow horns, and a leather bracelet with the word Joy for my late friend Sarah Joy. At 1:00 they fed us traditional food of Seswa (pounded beef), Semp (pounded corn), Nama dikoko (chicken), spicy coleslaw, rape (spinach), and ginger beer (ginger ale). After our meal, we just walked around some more and then left around 3:00. It was an extremely fun afternoon. After it threatened to rain, the sun came out and I got my first burn since getting here because it was actually the most sun I have gotten. Most of our days are spent inside during that very sunny time of the day. It wasn’t the normal crazy rides and junk food, but it was a good substitute for my yearly tradition.