Performance and the Economies of Cultural Heritage Festivals in Botswana: Cashing In Or Selling Out?

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Connie Rapoo


Cultural heritage performances such as the Kuru Dance Festival of the Basarwa (Bushmen/San) and the Sedibelo Festival of the Bakgatla in Botswana trade on indigenous performance traditions by translating rituals, culture and heritage into economic activities for the consumption of tourists. This article examines
what the potentials and pitfalls of such an exchange might be, and provides insight into the way cultural performers re-enact their perceived ‘authentic’ memories of ‘African-ness’ through performative acts that attempt to resist the long history of mythologising Africa. It further discusses whether such performances might perpetuate Euro-American patterns of ‘consuming Africa’, and thereby reiterate colonial power dynamics. This paper addresses these issues as a way to interrogate the currencies of African cultural heritage
performances. It gives insight into the development of Botswana cultural performance arts since Independence in 1966, using the tools of theatre and performance studies.

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