HOLY CATS, THREE BLOG POSTS IN 24 HOURS?!?!?!?!
That’s what happens when you feel like you need to get your life together–you start with the easiest thing on your to-do list. As mentioned just yesterday in the Tour de Botswana, Part II post, we were invited back to Serowe for an extended day of learning. After visiting St. Joe’s for most of last week, I headed back to the Serowe area Thursday night. After a relaxing evening at one of the best hotels in the area (thanks for the hook-up Jobe!), we left for the Serowe kgotla early in the morning. On our agenda: meeting with the elders and an afternoon visit to Old Palaype, the former capital village of the BaNgwato people.
As with any culture, there are customs to follow when visiting/engaging in certain activities. We had to wear a dress, cover our shoulders and preferably wear a head wrap. It wasn’t required but highly respectful to do so. As I didn’t have a head wrap, Ednah was kind enough to provide me with one (and help me wrap it!). In Serowe, we met with various kgosi at the main hall of the kgolta. They had assembled quite a line-up of people to assist us in our learning. Among them included former teachers, historians, writers, elders, traditional musicians and a kgosi (chief) of another village. They were incredibly grateful in allowing us to ask a million questions related to our research over the next FOUR hours. So many interesting ideas within Botswana’s history and culture came up during our conversation. Here are just some of the things I asked about:
-major themes/topics absolutely vital in teaching about Botswana’s history
-role of missionaries
-role of language
-like culture, how do we preserve history in today’s world?
Many of the people we met were experts in their field or had lived during the colonial period. I learned so much and like many times before, was surprised at some of the answers I received. Botswana’s colonial history is so different than it’s neighbors (South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, etc) that even the thoughts and attitudes of this period vary greatly from one people to another and one area to another. After our fruitful discussion, we went to the kgolta for photo opportunities. Without going into all the nitty gritty of our conversations, I will say that what I learned will definitely be used in the curriculum guide I will be creating for my program. I can’t thank the people of Serowe enough for the opportunity to learn from them.
After visiting Serowe, we headed south to Old Palaype. According to Botswana’s Tourism site, Old Palaype was occupied by Khama III and the BaNgwato people from 1889-1902, when he decided to move the capital to Serowe. As stated, “the occupation of Old Palapye is significant in the history of Botswana, particularly its role in restricting the Ndebele’s penetration to the then Rhodesia. It was critical as a centre for European encounters with Batswana, and provides evidence for one of the first agro-towns in Botswana.” All visitors to Old Palapye must check in at the local kgolta or face a fine. We were lucky to do so as we received a guided tour of the remains of the settlement. Again, a 4×4 was a nice addition as most of the roads are sandy and quite bumpy. Old Palapye was a large settlement, and definitely much larger than I thought. We covered a small section of it and it went on for nearly 4 more kilometers. Built near hills, the most impressive ruins (in my opinion) are that of the old London Missionary Society church. The handmade stone bricks are as red as the sand they surround. Two walls remain standing and it was a beautiful site. We also visited Khama III’s house (very large), the well and his first wife’s grave. On our way out we saw the remaining sites of former store fronts and that had we taken another road, we would have ended up near a gorge. I love historical sites as they really help me to visualize everything I have been reading about—I can picture Khama III, outside of his house or the thousands of people worshipping at the large church near the hill. What stood out even more to me than some of the sites, were that the leaves are changing colors. It’s fall in the southern hemisphere! The hills were scattered with trees turning from green to yellow and I was reminded of fall back home. It’s so bizarre to see fall (and even winter!) clothes in stores when it’s 80 degrees in March.
After dropping our guide off, we made the long journey back to Gaborone, finally arriving around 9pm. My weekend was quite wonderful as I was able to soak up some sunshine, go out to eat with some friends and finally catch up on some things I’ve been saying I’ll do for weeks. Next weekend, I’m off to a hash event (running club) at a cultural village outside Gaborone. While I’m so excited to hang out with everyone and have another weekend away, I’m not looking forward to the actual running part of it. I’ve definitely realized I’m NOT a runner. I fit more into the category of “jogger”, maybe even a “trotter”. Whatever it is I’m doing, it’s not fast enough to be running. Agggghhhhhhhhhh. Still, it’s so nice to be part of this little family and BBQ every Sunday!
I hope everyone has a wonderful week and as always, shoot me an email if you have any questions. I miss you all!
View Serowe pictures here (I’ll probably add more soon…Jobe took a lot of photos with the MOE camera): https://goo.gl/photos/kaVyQik2ri5HzubPA