The initial reason for this trip this year was due to reading Alexander McCall Smith’s books that were placed in Botswana. The first of the series is The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. I was so fascinated with the culture as he portrayed it and the democracy of the country, I knew we had to visit the country.
Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana is a landlocked nation in Southern Africa. Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on September 30, 1966. It is bordered by South Africa to the south and southeast, Namibia to the west, Zambia to the north, and Zimbabwe to the northeast. The economy, closely tied to South Africa’s, is dominated by mining (especially diamonds), cattle, and tourism. The country is named after its largest ethnic group, the Tswana. At 231,788 mi² (600,370 km²), Botswana is the world’s 45th-largest country (after Ukraine). It is comparable in size to Madagascar, and is slightly smaller than the state of Texas in the Southern United States. Botswana is dominated by the Kalahari Desert, which covers up to 70% of the land surface of the country. The Okavango Delta, the world’s largest inland delta, is in the Northwest. The Makgadikgadi Pan, a large salt pan lies in the North. Botswana has diverse areas of wildlife habitat, including the Okavango Delta, the Kalahari Desert, grasslands and savannas, the latter where Blue Wildebeest and many antelopes as well as other mammals and birds are found. The Okavango Delta peoples consist of five ethnic groups, each with its own ethnic identity and language. They are Hambukushu (also known as Mbukushu, Bukushu, Bukusu, Mbukuschu, Ghuva, Haghuva), Dceriku (Dxeriku, Diriku, Gciriku, Gceriku, Giriku, Niriku), Wayeyi (Bayei, Bayeyi, Yei), Bugakhwe (Kxoe, Khwe, Kwengo, Barakwena, G/anda) and ||anikhwe (Gxanekwe, //tanekwe, River Bushmen, Swamp Bushmen, G//ani, //ani, Xanekwe). The Hambukushu, Dceriku, and Wayeyi are all Bantus who have traditionally engaged in mixed economies of millet/sorghum agriculture; fishing, hunting, and the collection of wild plant foods; and pastoralism. The Bugakhwe and ||anikwhe are Bushmen who have traditionally practiced fishing, hunting, and the collection of wild plant foods; Bugakhwe utilized both forest and riverine resources while the ||anikhwe mostly focused on riverine resources. The Hambukushu, Dceriku, and Bugakhwe are present along the Okavango River in Angola and in the Caprivi Strip of Namibia, and there are small numbers of Hambukushu and Bugakhwe in Zambia as well. Within the Okavango Delta, over the past 150 years or so Hambukushu, Dceriku, and Bugakhwe have inhabited the Panhandle and the Magwegqana in the northeastern Delta. ||anikhwe have inhabited the Panhandle and the area along the Boro River through the Delta, as well as the area along the Boteti River. The Wayeyi have inhabited the area around Seronga as well as the southern Delta around Maun, and a few Wayeyi live in their putative ancestral home in the Caprivi Strip. Within the past 20 years many people from all over the Okavango have migrated to Maun, and in the late 1960s and early 1970s over 4,000 Hambukushu refugees from Angola were settled in the area around Etsha in the western Panhandle. The Okavango Delta has been under the political control of the Batawana (a Tswana sub-tribe) for several hundred years. Most Batawana, however, have traditionally lived on the edges of the Delta. Small numbers of people from other ethnic groups such as Ovaherero and Ovambanderu now live in parts of the Okavango Delta, but since the majority of the members of those groups live elsewhere and the habitation is recent they are not considered as part of the Okavango Delta peoples. There are also several Bushmen groups represented by a handful of people. These groups were decimated by diseases of contact in the middle part of the 20th century, and most of the remaining members have intermarried with the ||anikwhe.