Cultivating Culture: Nurturing Botswana’s Creative Soul 

With its diverse heritage and vibrant communities, Botswana stands at a crossroads where the nurturing of its cultural identity becomes imperative for its growth and development. In this article, DOUGLAS RASBASH discusses the lamentable absence of foundational pillars for the laudable purpose and how they may be established

In the rich tapestry of human civilisation, culture serves as the beating heart that breathes life into society’s existence. It encapsulates the essence of a nation, reflecting its values, traditions, and aspirations.

Botswana, with its diverse heritage and vibrant communities, stands at a crossroads where the nurturing of its cultural identity becomes imperative for its growth and development. That is why it is disheartening to note the absence of foundational pillars such as a national art gallery, theatre, orchestra and higher degrees in the fine arts, music and literature. This void not only deprives the nation of its cultural treasures but also hampers its journey towards self-discovery and global recognition.

At the core of any thriving society lies its artistic expression – be it through the visual arts, music, dance or literature. These forms of creativity serve as the voice of a nation, echoing its narratives, struggles and triumphs across generations. In Botswana, where oral traditions have long been celebrated, there exists a reservoir of untapped potential waiting to be channelled into tangible expressions of cultural richness.

Establishing a national art gallery would not only provide a platform for local artists to showcase their talent but also serve as a repository of the nation’s artistic legacy – a testament to Botswana’s creative spirit for the world to admire. Similarly, the absence of a national theatre deprives Botswana of a crucial space for artistic experimentation, storytelling, and community engagement. Theatre, with its power to provoke thought, evoke emotions and foster dialogue, plays a pivotal role in shaping societal consciousness. By investing in a national theatre, Botswana can cultivate a vibrant performing arts scene, nurturing budding talents and fostering a sense of cultural belonging among its citizens.

Moreover, a thriving theatre ecosystem can contribute significantly to the country’s tourism industry, attracting both local and international audiences to experience the magic of Botswana’s theatrical heritage. Furthermore, the absence of a national orchestra reflects a missed opportunity to harness the transformative power of music in enriching lives and bridging cultural divides.


Music transcends language barriers, resonating with people on a primal level and fostering a sense of unity and harmony. By establishing a national orchestra, Botswana can cultivate a new generation of musicians, composers, and conductors, while also celebrating its traditional musical forms such as traditional music, gospel, and traditional dance forms. Moreover, a national orchestra can serve as a cultural ambassador, promoting Botswana’s artistic excellence on the global stage and fostering international collaborations.

Equally concerning is the lack of higher degrees in the fine arts, music and literature within Botswana’s educational landscape. Education forms the bedrock of cultural preservation and innovation, providing aspiring artists, musicians and writers with the necessary skills and knowledge to hone their craft. By introducing specialised degree programmes in these disciplines, Botswana can nurture a new generation of cultural leaders, equipped with the tools to push the boundaries of artistic expression and contribute meaningfully to the nation’s cultural landscape.

Additionally, investing in arts education can foster creativity, critical thinking, and empathy among students, equipping them with essential life skills that transcend the confines of the classroom. In advocating for the importance of culture to Botswana, it is imperative to recognise that cultural development is not a luxury but a fundamental human right. Culture shapes our identities, fosters social cohesion, and contributes to economic prosperity. By investing in cultural infrastructure and education, Botswana can unlock its creative potential, empower its citizens, and position itself as a vibrant hub of artistic innovation and cultural exchange on the global stage.

Social transformation 

Moreover, embracing and celebrating cultural diversity can serve as a catalyst for social transformation, fostering mutual respect, understanding, and reconciliation in a rapidly changing world. In a country as diverse as Botswana where numerous ethnic groups coexist harmoniously, cultural expression serves as a bridge that connects the communities, transcending divisions and fostering a sense of national unity. Let it also be recognised that Batswana can use cultural diplomacy as a tool for economic development by showcasing their artistic talents on the international stage. Cultural exchange programmes and international festivals and exhibitions can enhance the visibility and reputation of African arts and culture abroad, attracting foreign tourists, investors, and trading partners.

The governments can work with cultural institutions, embassies, and trade agencies to promote African arts and facilitate cultural exchange initiatives that contribute to economic growth and diplomacy. The economic benefits of investing in culture – in all its facets – are many. Investing in cultural infrastructure and promotion can attract tourists interested in experiencing Botswana’s unique cultural heritage, leading to increased spending on accommodation, food, transportation and souvenirs. Supporting the arts sector creates direct employment opportunities for artists, musicians, dancers, craftsmen, and other creative professionals, as well as indirect jobs in related industries such as hospitality, event management, marketing and retail. Nurturing the arts can stimulate the growth of creative industries such as film, music production, fashion, design and advertising, fostering entrepreneurship, attracting investment, and creating a skilled workforce.

The youth 

Investing in cultural facilities and events revitalises communities, enhancing social cohesion and civic pride while also attracting investment in real estate, retail and hospitality. Arts education cultivates creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving skills among the youth, preparing them for a diverse range of careers and contributing to the development of a competitive workforce. Engagement with the arts has positive effects on mental health and well-being, reducing healthcare costs and improving productivity and happiness levels in the population. Cultural districts and creative clusters become catalysts for urban renewal and property development, driving up property values and attracting investment in infrastructure and amenities.

Investing in culture diversifies the economy, reducing dependence on traditional sectors such as mining and agriculture and creates new opportunities for sustainable growth and development. Cultural exchanges and collaborations promote cross-cultural understanding and diplomacy, strengthening ties with other countries and opening doors for trade, investment and collaboration on global issues.

To propel Botswana forward on its cultural journey, several key steps must be taken, including strategic planning, institutional support, and sustainable funding mechanisms. Firstly, the government must prioritise the development of cultural infrastructure by establishing a national culture policy that outlines clear objectives, strategies, and timelines for the promotion and preservation of Botswana’s cultural heritage. This policy should be developed in consultation with cultural stakeholders, including artists, educators and community leaders to ensure broad-based support and inclusivity.

Simultaneously, the establishment of dedicated cultural institutions such as a national art gallery, theatre and orchestra, is crucial. These institutions should receive sustained government funding to support their operations, programming and outreach activities. Additionally, partnerships with private sector entities, philanthropic organisations and international donors can supplement public funding and ensure the long-term sustainability of these cultural initiatives.

Furthermore, investing in arts education is paramount to nurturing a new generation of cultural leaders and innovators. Botswana should prioritise the integration of arts and culture into school curricula, providing students with opportunities to explore their creative potential and develop a deeper appreciation for their cultural heritage. Additionally, scholarships and grants should be made available to aspiring artists, musicians and writers to pursue higher education and training in their respective fields.


In terms of funding, Botswana can explore various revenue streams to support its cultural endeavours. These may include allocating a percentage of government budgets to the arts and culture sector, establishing dedicated cultural funds financed through taxation or lottery proceeds, and leveraging public-private partnerships to attract investment from corporate sponsors and donors. Furthermore, exploring innovative financing mechanisms, such as crowdfunding platforms and arts endowments, can mobilise additional resources and foster community ownership of cultural initiatives.

Additionally, Botswana can capitalise on its burgeoning tourism industry to generate revenue for cultural development. Cultural tourism initiatives such as heritage tours, cultural festivals and artist residencies, can attract visitors from around the world, generating income for local communities and supporting the preservation of cultural heritage sites. Moreover, leveraging digital technologies, such as virtual tours and online exhibitions, can broaden the reach of Botswana’s cultural offerings and generate revenue through ticket sales and merchandise.

In conclusion, moving forward on Botswana’s cultural journey requires a multi-faceted approach that prioritises strategic planning, institutional support, and sustainable funding mechanisms. By investing in cultural infrastructure, arts education, and innovative financing mechanisms, Botswana can unlock its creative potential, empower its citizens, and position itself as a vibrant hub of cultural excellence and innovation on the global stage. With concerted efforts and collective commitment, Botswana can chart a course towards a brighter, more culturally enriched future for generations to come.