This village is the custodian of many ancient secrets of Southern Africa with the breath taking Domboshawa hills and cultural centre. A must visit for someone who wants first hand African cultural experience.
The population of Masunga is predominantly made up of Kalanga People of Pedi origin. The Kalanga are the largest non-Tswana speaking tribal group of Botswana (11% of the population). They settled in Masunga under Chief Kaochi Masunga after migrating from Pietersburg in the 18th Century. They are now led by Chief Thabo Maruje Masunga III, he recently took from his uncle Christopher Masunga.
The people are bound together by a tribal totem, the hare. A totem is usually an animal that a group is identified by and is considered a sacred thing—not to be touched or killed for any reason. The totem is a recurring theme throughout the Kalanga and the closely related Mashona and it is not uncommon for one to be named by their totem after accomplishing great feats like a successful hunt. There are strong beliefs that people belonging to the same totem should not marry within their group, but wisdom dictated creation of variations within the same totem. For the people of Masunga , the hare has been split into different nuances. This has consciously or unconsciously opened opportunities for intra-group marriages.
The people are very community oriented and friendly, in fact most festivals (weddings, celebrations) require no invite, if you are in the village and there is a party you just turn up and you will be treated like a welcome guest. Village life is the melting pot for the young and the old, the rich and the poor. Many city dwellers in Botswana spend their holidays enjoying the relaxed, laid back and community focused way of life in the village that cannot be described unless one experiences it.
Not far from Masunga Village (about a 20km drive), is the Domboshaba Hills, you'll find the ruins of an ancient household. Domboshaba is a fascinating archaeological space with ruins dating back to the Great Zimbabwe era (1250-1500CE). These ruins can show one a snapshot of the rich history of the masonry that the kalanga have inherited, it is not surprising that the stone sculptures one can find in this village are of such skill.
The ruin is locally known as Luswingo, which means the ‘ruin’. The chief’s residence was on top of the hill while his wives lived in the enclosed area on the south side below the hill. The enclosure of the chiefly wives would have been very private and the main entrance to the chief’s residence is on the North Side of the hill. This access led to a large open area- the kgotla. As this is the largest ruins in the North East, the chief who lived here may have been the head of the district.
Many artifacts have been removed to Gaborone for preservation. A visit to this site is well worth a day and will allow you the opportunity to see some of the relics of the great kalanga culture.
Domboshaba Kalanga Festival
The first weekend in October each year marks the time of the Domboshaba Kalanga Festival. For a wonderful opportunity to see traditional dancing, drumming eat traditional meals and have a fantastic time, this festival brings a wonderful insight into local culture, and if you are in Botswana in October, it really should not be missed!
The kalanga festival is an opportunity for one to be immersed in the kalanga culture, learn about the history, customs and traditions of the kalanga people it is a fun way to celebrate a great culture.
The nearest city to Masunga is Francistown, which is situated about 120 km from it.