D’Kar, a tiny spot on the map of Botswana, houses an incredible museum and cultural centre about the history of the San People.
In the East of Botswana, close to the town of Ghanzi is a small village D’Kar, which is home to an impressive museum of the Kuru, a cultural centre and an art gallery. A visit to the village is a good way to learn about the San people as well as to stock up the souvenirs.
Run by the D’Kar Trust that falls under the umbrella of the Kuru Development Trust that looks after the interests of San communities in Botswana, there are a number of ongoing projects in the village that are helping to provide the local villagers with alternative sources of income through activities such as fabric painting, screen printing, tanning and leatherwork, as well as arranging educational workshops on a wide variety of issues. There is a cultural centre as well as a small shop where one can pick up remarkable mementos of your time in Botswana. The Kuru Museum and Cultural Centre is a place where local villagers and other Basarwa from neighbouring settlements come together to share and strengthen their traditions and culture. In the small museum, there is a beautiful permanent exhibition on Basarwa culture, which both locals and visitors greatly enjoy.
In the early 1990s a group of San in the village of D’Kar, Botswana embarked on a project to produce works of art in a unique San style. In media such as acrylics and printmaking, the Kuru Artists Group’s output has been exhibited in galleries in South Africa and Europe. San music has also found an international audience. Emmanuelle Olivier, a Paris-based ethnomusicologist, brought troupes of singers and dancers from the village to Europe, where they have been well received.
Therefore, every year, D’Kar hosts the Kuru Traditional Dance and Music Festival during August. With different aspects of traditional Bushman culture on display, this event worth visiting. The Bushmen from the whole Kalahari (Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and sometimes other countries) come to the village to dance, sing, play, talk and make traditional music around the fire. The festival also gives hope for the future. The future of the Bushmen is still bright. The children of the San take interest in learning the ancient art of hunting, cooking, dancing and singing and are taught by fathers, mothers and others in the community. Staying at places like D’Kar ensures the continuity of culture and tradition in future and does what many travellers search out to find – an honest, authentic and and fascinating tribe that values strong relationships, ancient arts and a desire to teach and share their ways of living.