Ftown museum opens collections and archives building
Supa Ngwao Museum in Francistown officially opened its newly refurbished Collections and Archives Building last Monday.
The structure, which was formerly a veterinary office block, was restored thanks to a P390, 000 grant from the United States Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP).
Speaking at the official opening, US Ambassador to Botswana, Craig Cloud said the initiative would help the museum preserve Francistown’s ‘amazing history’.
“It’ll take a lot of pieces from different areas; whether mining chaos, its history as a station for employees going to the mines or the rail and its place in the history of Francistown as part of the Cape to Cairo rail line, or the Bakalanga people and their cultural history.
“It really is a tapestry and all of this is being woven together!” stressed Cloud.
The American Ambassador revealed the dedication shown by the museum board and their relevant stakeholders made it easy for the Embassy to consider, and ultimately approve, them for funding.
He further explained he is moved by people who, despite not getting paid anything, drop everything to help with a project/initiative purely for the love of it.
“That is why their application was approved. There’s nothing more impressive to me as the lucky recipient of the ability to give the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation to someone like this,” he said.
AFCP awards grants for the preservation of cultural sites, cultural objects and forms of traditional expression in developing countries around the world.
Since 2001, the fund has invested P3 million on seven projects in Botswana.
These include the restoration of the Old Palapye church, Tsodilo Hills ancient paintings and National Museum Leather Conservation Project to preserve over 500 artefacts.
“Our biggest hope is that the National Museum will provide a curator to help get other beautiful artefacts up on display so that they are a testament to the history of Francistown and must be an attraction that everyone would want to see,” added Ambassador Cloud.
Speaking at the same event, a retired military officer, Richard Moleofe thanked the US Embassy for funding the project. He said it was a pity Botswana doesn’t seem to take history preservation seriously.
“I went to the National Archives to research on Phillip Matante and there was absolutely nothing. I find this to be a disgrace that in the hometown of Matante I could not find any information about him,” fired Moleofe.
Reiterating these sentiments, another speaker, Francistown elder Julia Matumo said more efforts are needed to preserve the rich history of what used to be Southern Africa’s mining boiling pot. Matumo described Francistown as a cosmopolitan city that was once the heartbeat of Botswana.
“No one can claim this city. It is made up of Angolans, Malawians and Mozambicans whose grandchildren are still here today,” she noted.