Conserving and Sustaining Culture through Traditional Dress
The government of Botswana through its National Policy on Culture (2001) and the National Ecotourism Strategy (2002) is committed to preserving national culture and historical heritage. The policy stipulates that valuable heritage must be preserved and developed in order to foster a sense of national identity, pride and unity. It is necessary to reformulate cultural values and valuing processes, in order to better understand the Setswana culture and its meaning in material objects. To this end, dress as one of the valuable material culture objects is essential for signifying and expressing subtle cultural value and social relationships. The intimate link between people and their traditional dress lies at the core of ethnic identity, and has assumed a higher level of significance among consumers and tourists who collect symbolic items. A specific emphasis on a national traditional dress seems to be lacking in Botswana. This paper argues that there is need to restore traditional dress in Botswana, which would serve as a symbol of national identity and cultural heritage. The paper is based on the findings of a study that explored the historical underpinnings of national dress in Botswana, and how national dress could be used to sustain culture.
Keywords: Traditional dress, culture, conserving, sustaining, symbolic, national identity, Setswana.