CULTURAL IDENTITY AND PHYSICAL PLANNING IN BOTSWANA - CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
Culture as an aspect of human societies is manifested both in tangible and intangible forms. It involves a set of values, beliefs, traditions, rituals and customs defining the society’s identity. Tangible manifestations of culture entail how these cultural aspects are portrayed in physical forms. As such culture of a specific group/society can be expressed in the arts, language and the built environment. In the built environment, it is mostly evident in the architecture and space organisation or planning of a settlement. Although Botswana has a rich and diverse culture, settlement planning in Botswana seems to disregard this aspect. Every village’s, town’s or city’s spatial layout is similar. These hegemonic development plans are based on Eurocentric models which seem to totally disregard the cultural identity and urban grain of local communities as expressed in their customs, rituals and practices. Using empirical evidence from settlement development plans from Molepolole, Tlokweng and Mogoditshane, and other guiding documents, this paper argues that current planning and space organisation models fail to adequately embrace the country’s rich cultural identity. The paper concludes by suggesting pathways for more culturally sensitive urban planning in Botswana.