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2 posts from March 2014

03/26/2014

My Week Away from Botswana

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 Post by Gabrielle Henderson from James Madison University

This past week was short break for the students of UB, and I, for one, was pretty darn excited for it.  A group of 5 of us were going to travel from Gaborone, to Johannesburg, to Cape Town, then up to Windhoek, out to Swakopmund, back to Windhoek and the back to Gaborone.  It was definitely a long week, but it was the trip of a lifetime.

The trip started out with a bus ride that was just way too long.  My group used Intercape buses, and all in all it wasn’t bad, just long.  After 27 hours of travel, we finally made it to Cape Town. Cape Town was like no other city I have seen in southern Africa; walking through the city was a strange feeling.  The city is amazing; there is so much to do.  We got to see a colony of African penguins; it is so close to the Cape of Good Hope, the food was delicious (we even had Mexican food, a particularly large craving of mine since arriving in Botswana), and some of us went even went shark diving.

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My roommate and me getting up-close and personal with an African Penguin


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Penguin Colony in Boulders, South Africa

But the highlight of the city for me was Table Mountain.  Table Mountain sits in the middle of the city, and it is completely flat at the top.  You can hike up to the top, but there is also a cable car you can take to the top (this was the option my group chose).  The ride up is pretty short, but it is only the beginning of an amazing view.  Once at the top, you get views of the entire city, of Robben Island, and of the amazingly blue water.  The entire thing was breathtaking.  You could spend hours just standing and looking out at the view. It was by far the best part of Cape Town.

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The breathtaking view from the top of Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

The bus ride from Cape Town to Windhoek was 26 hours.  It was a very long trip, but we eventually got there and spent the day around the city.   The entire city is walk-able, and we saw most of what there was to see in one day.

Image1The Christ Church in Windhoek, Namibia

That night, we left for Swakopmund.  This is a beach town near the coast, which boasts a location right near the largest sand dunes in the world.  The dunes are actually a desert, and they stretch on for miles.  My group chose to go four wheeling on the dunes, and it was the best decision we made in this half of the trip.  It was a blast! And for those of us who grew up playing Mario kart, it was pretty much just like Dry Dry Desert. It was awesome.  I would recommend it to anyone.

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Of course the week didn’t go off completely glitch free.  There were missed buses, buses that left early, cab drivers who tried to rip us off, and of course times that just didn’t work.  But, the amazing things we did definitely made up for the glitches.  It was definitely the best week I’ve had since starting the program and I would do all (or at least most) of it again in a heartbeat.

03/07/2014

Spring 2014 Issue I: Son of the Soil

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DUMELANG (HELLO!)

On Saturday, March 1st, CIEE Gaborone staff, local volunteers and students headed out for the most anticipated cultural event of the year: Son of the Soil!

Here's what's in this issue:

Learning How to Cook
Traditional Dance
Lunch and Games
Scenes From the Day

We didn’t let the rain dampen our spirits as we dressed up in traditional attire and took the twenty-minute bus ride to Boetelo Resort in Notwane, on the outskirts of Gaborone.

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Image12014 marked the 10-year anniversary of the annual event, started by the Bana ba Mmala group to preserve cultural knowledge amongst youth.

Our group was one of the first to arrive.  After walking around the event site and taking photos near the beautiful dam, the students were eager to make their way toward the cooking stations.

Image1Nahara, Kathiana, Krista and Anandi wearing traditional attire

LEARNING HOW TO COOK

The students jumped right in, helping to make bread, cut vegetables and stir large pots of meat.

IMG_3223Anandi, Lily and Mackenzie making bread

Image1Krista, Lily and Katie cutting vegetables for beef stew

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Adam (left) and Cameron (right) stirring large pots of pounded meat, or seswaa

TRADITIONAL DANCE

As vendors began to set up stalls to sell handmade wares, we were entertained with unbelievable traditional dance groups.  The energy of the performers was unmatched!

Image1The women wore blankets around their shoulders (or tjale) to represent their married status.  Traditionally this was a mogagolwane, or goat/jackal skin, that was especially tanned for the new bride.  She covers herself to show that she is now a woman and is covering her emotions and keeping confidential the matters of her house.

Image1Traditional dancers

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Drums are used in the Hosana dance of the Kalanga, or Bakalaka tribe of the north, performed to pray for rain.  The girls’ attire of black skirts, white tops and red ribbons are symbols of clouds and thunder.

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Men from Bakwena and Bakgalagadi tribes dance the borankana, using matobelo (goatskin) wrapped around the ankles to make a loud drum-like sound when hit.

To get a real sense of these dances, here are some videos:

 

 

LUNCH AND GAMES

One draw of Son of the Soil is the mouth-watering traditional food, some of which is only cooked on special occasions and in particular seasons.

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Image1Students and other attendees getting their food

 


The organizers encouraged us to try some of everything!  A typical plate was laden with bogobe jwa lerotse (sorghum with melon), seswaa (pounded goat meat), beef stew, makgomane (a kind of local squash), mophane worms, dinawa (beans), madombe (steamed dumplings), setampa (maize kernels) and lephutshi (butternut squash).

 

Image1After everyone’s stomach was full, the games began!  Our students and volunteers got right in the thick of it.

Image1Student volunteers Gaone and Koketso playing Morabaraba

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   Katie playing Koi

 

 

 

Image1Gaone playing Safe, in which contestants must jump over ropes that continually become higher.  The person to jump over the highest rope successfully wins

One student, Dana, even learned how to work the fields!
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SCENES FROM THE DAY

It was a fantastic day of bonding and learning with great friends, great food and great fun!
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On left: Katie and Kelly with Resident Director, Basetsana Maposa

On right: Alec and Tanya Phiri, Program Assistant 

                                                                                   

Kirsten and tarikwa     Anandi, Kirsten and Tarikwa
IMG_3222Keely, Lily, Mackenzie, Lexy, Gabby and Kathiana in front of a wall hanging with the Botswana flag and representations of all tribes in Botswana
Image1Adam with student volunteers Kuda, Keamogetse, Luisure, Lera and Kenny

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