Monday, April 02, 2012

Botswana

Botswana (Source)
Sunset on the Okavango Delta. (Source)
There are three countries in Africa I consider to be special to me, South Africa, where I was born and raised and where I live, Zambia where I spent many wonderful school holidays while my parents were on contract in Ndola and Botswana, a country I visited often while my children were young. Botswana is a land locked country and is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. It is a flat, hot and dry place with more than 70 percent being The Kalahari desert. But there is magic here.
Botswana was never colonized, it did however become a British protectorate in 1885 after appeals for assistance when hostilities broke out between the people of the then Bechuanaland and now Botswana,  the Boers from the Transvaal in the east and the north eastern Ndebele tribes of what is now known as Zimbabwe.
Botswana gained it's independence from Britain in 1966 and over the past forty odd years has built one of the most dynamic economies in Africa. Botswana is also considered to be the least corrupt of the African countries despite it's secretive public institutions.
Most people here speak English as either a first or second language and getting around isn't as difficult as it may be in some African countries where English is not an official language. (Probably even easier than France :) )
Air hostesses on ground leave (Source)
The principal industry is mining and some exquisite diamonds have been discovered here. Uranium, copper, and gold are to be found here too.
Serowe Botswana (Source)
In the north west, the great Okavango delta materializes in the middle of the desert, an oasis of magnificent proportions, 15 000 square Km, that forms each year from March to about June. Animals trek for weeks to get to this source of lush vegetation and abundant water. I've never been to the Okazango delta, not yet anyway. I'll tell you about this magical place later in a post dedicated to it.
A little about our journeys to visit my sister Charmian and her husband Daryl who lived in Selebi Phikwe in the east of the country.We would travel by train, the old steam trains with real teak paneling in the cabins and silverware in the dining car.
The journey would begin in Johannesburg where we would board the train, passports in hand and excitement in our hearts. Up to the border and through to Lobatse. From there to Gabarone, the capitol of Botswana, on to Mahalapye and Serowe where we were collected by car for the final leg to Phikwe. What a magical time it was.
Steam train (Source)
There is very little that compares with a journey undertaken through Africa by steam train. Like I said, there is magic here.
Selebi Phikwe is a copper mining town and of course one of the things that I did was collect mineral samples for my rock collection. We'd even go down to Bobonong to look for Geodes and Botswana pink agate to bring back with us. Nearby was Shashi Lake, a dam that supplied fresh water for the mines and this is where I learned to sail a Halcat catamaran and where I fell in love with sailing. We had such a good time, leaving was always an emotional event.
I do miss my family and those magic days spent roaming southern Africa. I also wish I could tell you more about this wonderful country, it's culture, it's music and its cuisine. I highly recommend Botswana as a safari destination for those who do decide to visit my wonderful continent.
Blessings to all the people who live in Botswana, you have one of the best countries in the world and my visits have left a lasting impression on me and my children. Thank you.

9 comments:

  1. This was very interesting. Those pictures are beautiful. Thank you fro sharing this.

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  2. I'm going to really enjoy your blog and all the wonderful information you share. Thanks.

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  3. Africa in general is populated with friendly people. My daughter lived in Kenya for ten years, but has now returned to Australia, wheras I live in London. Each visit to another country teaches us something different.

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  4. I love the pictures! Botswana sounds very interesting.

    Konstanz Silverbow
    nothoughts2small.blogspot.com
    thewriterace.blogspot.com
    A to Z c-host
    www.a-to-zchallenge.com

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  5. Sounds like an exciting country. Thanks for sharing and especially the pics to go along :)

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  6. Oh, those trains. My most favourite memories, from Nkana, Zambia down to Joh'burg to visit the relatives, Durban, the Cape. Visiting again from the A to Z Challenge.

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  7. Great photos, Geoff!

    I am a former Social Studies teacher. My students really enjoyed learing about the countries of Africa/ the continent!

    Botswana is such a beautiful name!

    I do thank you for the history lesson, Geoff!

    Peace!

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  8. Thank you, Geoff for introducing your homeland and aspects of Africa!

    It's very nice to meet you and to tour your blog!

    Great theme for the challenge!

    Continue to inspire and teach us!

    Blessing unto you and the land of Africa!

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  9. Hello Melynda.
    Sorry about the long time between visits, Internet problems.
    As always, you are most welcome and thank you for coming to visit. We'll catch up a bit later. Blessings, Geoff.

    Hey Horst.
    Prophetic words I hope. :) You know you're always welcome. We'll have lots to share I'm sure.
    Bless you my friend, Geoff.

    Francene hi.
    I think your daughter was very fortunate to spend time in Kenya, it's a very interesting place. Yes you are right , travel enriches us so much, especially culturally, even a visit to London by an old South African man can be delightful. :) http://geoffmaritz.blogspot.com/search?q=London
    Check out the ling above, you may enjoy my visit to your country, Geoff.

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