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Fall 2014 Issue I: Culture in Kanye



On September 6th, Fall 2014 Arts & Sciences students and CIEE staff spent a morning at Motse Lodge in the village of Kanye, about an hour and a half from Gaborone. We learned how to make pottery, milk goats and cook diphaphatha, a traditional bread. What a great day!

Here’s what’s in this issue:

Introduction to Motse
Pottery Extraordinaire
Fun With Animals
Traditional Cooking


Kanye is one of the largest villages in Botswana, with over 30,000 people. It is the home of the Bangwaketse tribe, one of the biggest tribes in the country. As part of our Setswana Language and Culture course, all students spend time with a host family in Kanye. Community Public Health students live in Kanye for a week while they learn about the rural public health system. Arts & Sciences students spend a weekend in the village.

In addition to the bonds that form in the homestays, the students also experience the rich village culture and the physical beauty of the hills. The students have time to explore the village's gorge, dam, and even attend a traditional wedding if they're lucky! We also organized a trip for each group to Motse Lodge, a cultural lodge in the heart of Kanye. CIEE Resident Director Basetsana Maposa and Program Assistants Tanya Phiri and Amelia Plant joined the Arts & Sciences students for their visit to Motse on Saturday, September 6th.

Upon arrival at Motse, we were greeted with a sign displaying the lodge's motto:


At 9 am, we all gathered to have a briefing from Matshidiso, the owner of Motse Lodge. We enjoyed a light breakfast of coffee and sandwiches while Matshidiso told us about the services the lodge provides and the activities we would be engaging it that morning.

IMG_0791Arts & Sciences students Angie, Alex, Sierra, Todd, Mariah, Zoe, Braeden, Gabby, Jenna, Erin, and Shunese sitting at the Bojale Restaurant

Motse Lodge is a destination site for wedding receptions. After the ceremony at the church, wedding parties arrive at Motse for photos, lunch and dancing. Motse staff can cater for any occasion, as there is a large space in the back perfect for oversized tents. They also offer hiking and bird watching activities, as well as tours to the Kanye Gorge and Mmakgodumo Dam.


Rather than head out into the hills, though, our plan was to stay at the lodge. Matshidiso told us that we would be learning how to make traditional pottery, how to milk a goat, and how to cook some traditional foods. We couldn't wait to begin.


When you enter the lodge, there is a swimming pool in front of you and huts on the right in the formation of a traditional homestead. After breakfast, we made our way over to the huts and sat on the ground with the pottery teacher. Our first activity was traditional potterymaking.

IMG_0803Getting our first lesson in Batswana potterymaking. Pictured: Basetsana Maposa, CIEE Gaborone Resident Director; Students Zoe, Mariah, Braeden, Jenna, Sierra, Angie and Gabby

We learned how they collect sand from the river bed and combine it with a certain kind of soil. They pound the mixture together and add water until it becomes clay.


We were each given a handful of clay to begin making our pots. The pottery teacher spoke instructions in Setswana and Basetsana translated for the students. First we were to form our lump into a ball and then roll it out into a cylinder. We then connected the ends of the cylinder into a bowl.


Some were avid pros, like Gabby (shown below). Others, like Program Assistant Amelia Plant, had to give her bowl back to the pottery teacher to reshape it for her.


After we finished, we set our pots out to dry. They would be fired later that day and would be ready to be picked up within a week.

IMG_0839Our bowls baking in the sun


We continued with our traditional lessons by learning how to cover the floor with cow dung and mud. It is a common method to keep the floor cool and smooth in the summer months. It fills in the cracks in the floor and helps to prevent animals, such as snakes, from entering the home.

Luckily, we did not have to prepare the mud and cow dung mixture. We just put our hands in it and jumped right in!

IMG_0834Braeden and Basetsana collecting the mixture into the bucket to take it to the place where we would start applying it.

IMG_0827Braeden, Mariah, Angie, Basetsana and a staff member from Motse

Before putting down the mud and cow dung covering, we were taught to cover the floor with water, which helps the mixture stay fixed long-term.

Students who finished their bowls quickly moved onto the floor covering exercise.

IMG_0836Sierra, Erin, Mariah and Angie doing the floor covering, while Alex and Todd finished up their bowls.

After everyone was done with the potterymaking, we washed our hands and moved onto the goat milking. A local farmer was gracious enough to bring his herd of goats for us to practice milking on. We didn't know how much technique was involved! Below, Angie is showing Todd how to put the goat's hoof behind his knee for better access to the teat.


IMG_0847Jenna and the goat

Even CIEE staff tried their luck!

IMG_0853Basetsana, Resident Director



Left: Amelia Plant, and Right: Tanya Phiri, Program Assistants



After milking goats, we had one last activity before lunch: cooking! Matshidiso first showed us how to grind sorghum and maize into the powders that Batswana use to cook their traditional starch dishes. The seeds and maize kernels are first collected from the fields and pounded using the mortar shown below. After the seeds are pounded, they are grinded using smooth stones (not pictured).

IMG_0799Todd and Angie learning about the correct way to pound sorghum and maize.

The same pounding mechanism is used to prepare sediment from the river beds so that is fine enough to make clay.

IMG_0807Todd and Shunese putting their skills to good use

After the pounding, we moved onto learning about traditional breadmaking. In busy streets around Gaborone, there are always vendors selling different kinds of bread - steamed (madombi), fried (magwinya) and baked (diphaphatha and mapakiwa). We were taught how to form the dough into balls and bake them over the fire.

IMG_0868Basetsana, Sierra, Erin, Todd, Alex and Shunese putting the dough into balls

Motse staff had prepared the dough beforehand so we could bake the bread quickly. To prepare it in the future, they told us to simply mix bread flour, salt, sugar, warm water and yeast. Sounds easy enough!

IMG_0873Jenna placing the diphaphatha to cook in the fire

After cooking the diphaphatha, we headed back to the Bojale Restaurant for lunch. It was an educational and fun-filled morning!

Look out for the next edition of the CIEE Gaborone Fall 2014 Newsletter. Until next time, sala sentle (stay well)!


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