Francistown Gets Life-Sized Rhinoceros Sculpture

Deputy Mayor Honourable Lechezani Modenga (far left in blue suit), Acting Town Clerk (brown suit next to Deputy Mayor), BIHL Trust Chairman Major General Bakwena Oitsile (brown striped cardigan), and Reginald Bakwena of Thapong Visual Arts where the sculpture itself was made (black jacket, striped shirt), join others at the Civic Centre in Francistown to welcome the art piece.

Deputy Mayor Honourable Lechezani Modenga (far left in blue suit), Acting Town Clerk (brown suit next to Deputy Mayor), BIHL Trust Chairman Major General Bakwena Oitsile (brown striped cardigan), and Reginald Bakwena of Thapong Visual Arts where the sculpture itself was made (black jacket, striped shirt), join others at the Civic Centre in Francistown to welcome the art piece.

Visitors to the Civic Centre in Francistown are in for a pleasant surprise in the form of the Centre’s new resident: a life-sized rhinoceros sculpture as part of the nationwide #RhinosInTheCity campaign.

The product of a collaboration between Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL) Trust and local artists, the fibreglass sculpture comes as part of the Trust’s nationwide project aimed at increasing awareness around rhino conservation efforts.

BIHL Trust Chairperson, Major General Bakwena Oitsile and Reginald Bakwena from Thapong Visual Arts delivered the White Rhino sculpture to the Francistown Civic Centre. The sculpture was soon unveiled by a delegation from the City Council lead by the deputy Mayor of Francistown, Lechenzani Modenga.

The sculpture is one of three pieces, with its counterparts located at the Museum in Maun; and the Molapo Crossing Piazza in Gaborone, respectively. BIHL Trust partnered with local artists to develop and install the sculptures in a bid to spark greater debate and action in the fight for rhino protection.

The three rhinos, developed by artist Joseph Moemedi Piet at Thapong Visual Arts in Gaborone, have made their way to their new homes to be decorated by local artists including Arone Edward, Christopher Ntwaagae Mokgeledi, and Bolaane Mazebedi, who will be taking over the Francistown rhino and creating it into his vision through the use of paint.

“This is truly a project of passion and allows us as artists to not only be a part of something greater, but provides us with a canvas upon which to show our work and gain greater exposure as local artists,” said Piet.

Visitors to the Francistown Civic Centre are encouraged to photograph the sculpture and share the message via word of mouth and across social media platforms in a bid towards bringing this key topic into the public consciousness. The overarching aim is to grow awareness about the threat to Botswana’s rhinos, encouraging greater conservation action across the board.

“For BIHL Trust, not only is this an effort towards supporting the arts and culture scene, but it is an effort towards shaping the very dynamic of how we approach environmental issues. It is our hope that Batswana, from children to adults and corporates, can come together to change the otherwise ill-fated future of these creatures,” said Tebogo Keepetsoe, BIHL Trust Administrator.

Located in the Civic Centre gardens, the public are invited to view the art piece during standard opening hours, and further encouraged to pay attention to a number of educational efforts in the media space aimed at increasing conservation awareness.

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