Summer 2016 Issue III - Diamonds Are Forever
Botswana is known for its lucritive diamond industry; the quality of product produced has coined Botswana the "world's leading producer of diamond by value!" Botswana is blessed with one of the richest diamond mines in the world (Jwaneng Mine), and the largest diamond mine by area (Orapa Mine)! With this in mind, we set out on an adventure to the largest diamond, located in the small town of Orapa! We also had the opportunity to learn about the amazing history of Batswana in Serowe, and the First President of Botswana, a diamond himself, Sir Seretse Khama! Here's what's in this issue:
The Orapa Diamond Mine is the world's largest diamond mine by area! Orapa is located north of Gaborone, in the Boteti Sub District. The mine has been operational since July 1971 and is still proving to be a strong power house. Orapa Mine, along side its sister mines, Letlhakane and Damtshaa Diamond Mine have contributed greatly to Botswana's economy, stability and success! Botswana is the world's largest producer of diamonds and the trade has transformed it into a middle-income nation.
Our summer students and Program Assistant set off on a 6 hour journey from our University Campus to the small town of Orapa. Each person was required to acquire a permit to enter the mining town as there is high securtiy to protect the mining industry.We were prompted to carry our passports so we could be granted access to enter the town at the checkpoint entry. Once we were all through, permits in hand, we drove to a nearby location where we would spend the night and enjoyed a wonderful dinner.
We begun the following day bright and early with a short drive to the Mine. Once we arrived, we were greated by member of the Orapa Mine staff who took us through an informative presentation on the history of the Orapa and sister mines, the contribution they have made to the economy, and also the impact and income the mines have brought to the people of Orapa and surrounding areas. We also learnt about safety and security measures that should be maintained whilst in the mine.
Once we had all the information about how the mine came to be, it was time to see the beauty with our own eyes. Each person was given protective mine gear which was an essential component for our safety and security seminar. We received a pair of goggles, earplugs, gloves, heavy boots, a shirt, pants and hard hat; we fit right in with our tour guides and were finally ready to enter the mine!
Our guides took us on a specific route which allowed us to view the main components of the mine. We were fortunate enough to understand exactly how the ore is extracted and the tacit process required to produce beautiful diamonds ready for sale.
Once our tour came to an end, we changed back into our regular clothes and enjoyed a well-deserved lunch at Wimpy Restaurant in Orapa. We then head south to our next location.
After lunch,we headed approximately 200 kilometres south to Serowe, one of the largest villages in Botswana, specicifally to a place known as Khama Rhino Sanctuary. The Khama Rhino Sanctuary (KRS) is a community based wildlife project, established in 1992 to assist in saving the vanishing rhinoceros, restore an area formerly teeming with wildlife to its previous natural state and provide economic benefits to the local Botswana community through tourism and the sustainable use of natural resources.
Once we arrived, the students, volunteers and Program Assistant settled into their chalets and had a relaxing afternoon. That evening, we all enjoyed a wonderful dinner that left us all calling for seconds. Dinner was followed by an exhilerating night game drive through the sanctuary, which is home to the largest population of Rhino's in Botswana, as well as other wildlife and exotic birds.
The Village of Serowe is a custodian of Botswana's contemporary history. Serowe is the birth place of Botswana's founding father, and first President, a true Diamond, Sir Seretse Khama. The village is home to the royal cemetry, and Khama III Memorial Museum which was our next stop.
The next morning, we drove a few kilometers to Khama III Memorial Museum. We were greeted by a friendly guide who took us through a tour of the musuem and the history of Serowe and Sir Seretse Khama. We begun with the origins of the village, its natives, to the controversial relationship Sir Seretse Khama and Lady Ruth Khama, the history of the famous writer Bessie Head who settled in the Serowe village, and finally to the people and Botswana today!
The history of Serowe is a major link that has helped shape Botswana's rising success as a nation. Khama III Memorial Museum serves as a pivotal learning hub for Batswana and visitors alike. It is important to ensure that tradition and history is kept carefully, and shared with younger generations and those who are curious to learn; as in the famous words President Seretse Khama " A nation without a past, is a lost nation, and a people without a past, is a people without a soul."
All in all, the weekend was a success, from the exhilarating mine tour, to the wildlife and adventure at Khama Rhino Sanctuary, to the wonderful lessons and history at Khama III Memorial Museum, its safe to say we had a blast!
Till Next Time, Sala Sentle ( Stay Well).