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Earthenware pottery-making skills are practised among the Bakgatla ba Kgafela community in south-eastern Botswana. The women potters use clay soil, weathered sandstone, iron oxide, cow dung, water, wood and grass to make pots of different forms, designs and styles that relate to the traditional practices and beliefs of the community. Pots are used for storing beer, fermenting sorghum meal, fetching water, cooking, ancestral worship and traditional healing rituals. Earthenware skills are transmitted to daughters and granddaughters through observation and practice. 104

  • Exploring tourism is a travel agency in Botswana offering customised packages. One of the packages includes pottery-making tours, visiting three different (locally/ privately owned, women-established and youth-established) pottery workshops. Guided tours allow direct interaction between bearers and tourists. The profit goes directly to pottery makers.
  • The practice is at risk of extinction because of the decreasing number of master potters, low prices for finished goods and the increasing use of mass-produced containers. Tourism activities expand the practitioners’ usually limited market to sell earthenware pottery, and raise prices.
  • Over-tourism may lead to loss of meaning and knowledge about the symbols used to decorate the pots, loss of knowledge about its usage and decreased quality in order to meet the requirements of the market. Tours should thus incorporate information about the meaning and value of the decoration and use of the pots, and pots should be priced correctly to reward practitioners making them in the traditional way.

Collaboration: Private-civil partnership empowering women and youth in developing business models related to their craftsmanship.

Web Dossier on Intangible Cultural Heritage and sustainable tourism