From Rocks and Caves to Galleries: UB Opens San Art Exhibition

  • Exhibition showcases San artists’ contemporary vision and how it draws from their ancestral experiences
  • Discussions about establishing museum at UB underway



The University of Botswana’s (UB) Library was a sight to behold when it hosted the opening of Contemporary San Art Exhibition last week.

Facilitated by the Department of History and Archaeology in the Faculty of Humanities, the first-of-its-kind exhibition showcases San artists’ contemporary vision and how the artists draw from their ancestral experiences as represented on rock surfaces and cave walls across the country, as well as the modern studio art of drawing, painting and printmaking.


Ethnological data


“As an institution, we recognise that galleries with archaeological, ethnological, and are central to the lifeblood of the university,” said Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Doreen Ramogola-Masire, at the opening.


“They are relevant for teaching, research, and a community’s collective memory and pride. Cultural objects such as arts and crafts showcase the cultural evolution of our people, their changing concerns, worldview, life experience, and their ever-advancing lifestyles.”


The exhibition features various artworks, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, and crafts of leading San artists like Thamae Setshogo, Nxaedom Qhomatca, Coex’ae Qgam, Cg’ose Ntcox’o, X’aga Tcuixgao and Olemogeng Maaramele.


In memoriam Thamae Setshogo


It showcases more artworks of Setshogo who passed away in 2004. Most of his artworks feature his favourite subject, animals of the Kalahari Desert, which he depicted from his memory.


Said Ramogola-Masire: “The paintings on show were all meticulously selected from the university’s greater collection of artworks and crafts, which were accumulated since 1999.


“We started with a modest collection, which we are continuously expanding to include other pieces representing our societies’ artistic richness.”


San research centre

The University of Botswana has also established the San Research Centre, a multidisciplinary research centre purposed to inform stakeholders on the culture, socio-economic and political issues of the San.


The San Research Centre has so far supported 10 San students to successfully complete master’s degree programmes outside Botswana.


“Preserving artistic works such as the ones on display is crucial for any university that has the society for which it exists at heart,” Ramogola-Masire said.

The exhibition will be open to the public from 9 June to18 June 2023 next to the University of Botswana Library Auditorium. Admission is free.




Meanwhile, the Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Thapelo Otlogetswe, has disclosed that there are serious discussions going on about establishing a museum at the University of Botswana.


Also speaking at the exhibition opening of Contemporary San Art Exhibition, Professor Otlogetswe said it is being envisaged that the museum will house more collections from different cultures in Botswana and try and use the materials for teaching.


“We have colleagues in the History department who are specialists in museum studies and there is a great move currently to really integrate that part of museum studies with a real museum on campus,” he said.