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Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Botswana

Naro Giraffe Dance Group, Ghanzi, Botswana
The Naro Giraffe Dance Group was created in 1996 in an effort to showcase and preserve the culture of the San people, who have been forcibly relocated from hunter-gathering communities in the Kalahari Desert to government-run settlements. The Naro Giraffe Dance Group has traveled both locally in Botswana and internationally to demonstrate cultural activities that are important to the San such as making fire, shooting bows, using plants for food and medicine, playing traditional games and musical instruments, and dancing. They have participated in cultural exchanges with other indigenous groups such as the American Indians and the Sami people of Norway. An important ritual of the San culture, which dates back thousands of years and is still practiced today, is the healing trance dance. Four of the Naro Giraffe Dance Group’s members are attending the Folklife Festival, representing the twelve to fourteen total members of the group. Accompanying the dancers is Kuela Kiema, a teacher and musician. Kuela wrote Tears for My Land: A Social History of the Kua of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Peace Corps volunteers have worked in the resettlement communities of the San people and have helped organize the annual Kuru Dance Festival where the Naro Giraffe Dance Group performs.