As the nation celebrates its 46th independence this September from Britain, H&C focuses on the nation’s capital. We take a look at its history and current status as a destination aspects. The city is diverse destination from Tourism, Conference,to business to leisure & Lifestyle. Gaborone,the capital of Botswana, is often cited as the world’s fastest growing city. Named after Kgosi Gaborone- the leader of Batlokwa people,who migrated from their ancestral homelands in the Magalisburg Mountains and in 1881 settled in the Tlokweng area(then called Moshaweng). Gaborone literally means “it does not fit badly” or “it is not unbecoming.”
Gaborone serves as a convenient gateway to overland travelers arriving from South Africa and is a good supply stop before heading to the Okavango Delta or the Chobe National Park. Twenty-first century Gaborone now of several large American-style malls, replete with cinema complexes, a host of hotels,guest houses and restaurants, an international airport,a cultural centre,discos and nightclubs, a national museum and art gallery,as well as two golf courses and other sports facilities. Gaborone is so unique in the sense that a visitor and enjoy all the familiar modern conveniences of home, but can gain entry into rural Africa, or Wildlife areas, within minutes, having then the best of both possible worlds.
Because the city had no tribal affiliation and was close to fresh water,the city was planned to be the capital in the mid-1960s when the Bechuanaland Protectorate became an independent nation. The centre of the city is a long strip of commercial business, called the mall, with semi-circle shaped area of government offices to the west of the mall.
Gaborone is the government capital as well as the economic capital; it is headquarters to numerous companies and the Botswana Stock Exchange. Gaborone is also home to the Southern African Development Community(SADC) a supranational organization, hoping to increase economic unity.
Once proudly referred to as “Africa’s fastest growing city,”Botswana ‘s capital Gaborone, has been- since its inception- continually expanding, to the point that now the sprawling urban centre of some 300 000 residents has become nearly unrecognizable from the tiny, dusty administrative town it was at the country’s independence in 1966.
From the end if the nineteeth century,until 193,tiny “Gaberones” Village, as the town was then called, consisted of only a small settlement on the railwayline and a small administrative centre in the area now called “The Village.” The land between settlements was Crown land, but was used by the people of the neighbouring village of Tlokweng as a cattle grazing area.
Britain’s Bechuanaland Protectorate(established in 1885) had its main administrative centre in Mafikeng(now Mafikeng),in South Africa, just over the current Ramatlabama border. As plans developed for the country’s independence,it was clear it would need an administrative town within its political boundaries.
Nine possible sites were suggested:
Mahalapye,Shashe,Francistown,Serowe,Artesia,Lobatse,Gaborone,Maun and a point within the Tuli Block. Gaborone was chosen because of its strategic location, its proximity to the railway line and Pretoria, its already established administrative offices, its accessibility to most of the major tribes, its non-association with any particular tribe, and most importantly, its closeness to a major water source.
Once plans for the city have been drawn up,technical experts from several European countries were brought in to assist with the planning and building of the town; and architects, artisans, supervisors and labourers were brought in from surrounding areas in Botswana, and from Southern Rhodesia.
In mid-1963,construction on the Gaborone Dam began,while work on the town itself commenced in early 1964. In eighteen months, the new capital emerged from the African bush. By the time it was completed-incidentally nearly on time-it boasted National Assembly buildings, Government office blocks,a power station,a hospital,a radio station, an airfield,a telephone exchange,police stations, a post office, banks, shops, a church a hotel,a brewery a stadium grandstand,a dam and more than one thousand houses.
Indeed the basic infrastructure was in place for independence day on 30 September 1966, when Bechuanaland became the eleventh British territory in Africa to become independent. What makes Gaborone so unique, however, is that the visitor can enjoy all the familiar modern conveniences of home, but can gain entry into rural Africa, or wildlife areas, within minutes- having then the best of both possible worlds.
Initiated in 2002 by the highly active environmental NGO Somarelang Tikologo, Gaborone’s Ecological Park-situated situated on the corner of South Ring Road and Kaunda Road- is a welcome retreat for city dwellers. It is also a highly instructive facility that familiarizes visitors with simply but effective technologies for resource conservation and waste management. The park has been developed to inspire people to live in an environmentally friendly life whilst at the same time save money.
Tel: +267 391-3709
The National Museum Botanical Gardens is a welcome addition to the city of Gaborone. It features walking trails(with labeled trees and plants),exhibits on the flora of Botswana, a library of botanical books, and historical buildings,including a colonial guest house. This is a pleasant place for family outing, also providing an educational perspective on the country’s flora.
Gaborone Game Reserve
Possibly one of the few national reserves to be situated inside a city, this relatively small(5 square km) but well stocked park is home to a number of Botswana’s indigenous species,including zebra, eland, gemsbok, red hartebeest, blue wildebeest, impala, kudu, steenbok, vervet monkeys, warthog and rock dassies, as well as numerous resident and migrant bird species, best viewed from the small dam in the park. Terrain includes tree savanna, riparian woodland, marsh and rocky outcrops. The park is popular for weekend outings and picnics, with two well appointed picnic sites. There are also animal and bird observation hides and a visitor’s centre; and pre-booked educational tours can be arranged for both school children and visitors.
The life source of Gaborone and its surrounding areas, the Gaborone Dam is often part of people’s conversations during the dry season, or drought years, during which time a neon signboard in town regularly informs residents of how full the dam is. In this desert country prone to prolonged drought, water- and having enough of it- is an over-riding preoccupation. Construction on the am began in 1963, capturing water from the Ngotwane river, to supply the country’s planned new capita city. The reservoir filled, and overflowed, during the 1965-66 rainy season. Ten years later, the dam wall was raised by eight metres.