New York without the Statue of Liberty, Rio De Janeiro without the magnificent Christ the Redeemer Statue? No ways! These cities and countries would lose a great deal of integrity because there won't be anything remarkable about them anymore. China cannot be the same without its colossal Great Wall of China. The point I am raising here is that these famous places have become images of countries or cities in which they are found. Their popularity and image attracts a lot of people all over the world. Since these famous heritage sites attract a lot of tourists to them, they have become brands of their countries. Produce a picture of any of the monuments listed above and chances are any informed person will identify it with its city or country.
In Africa, like elsewhere in the world, we have famous heritage sites which have become images of countries where they are found. Great Zimbabwe and the Victoria Falls are outstanding monuments in Southern Africa which are synonymous with Zimbabwe. They are Zimbabwe's prime brands in terms of tourism. In nearby South Africa, Table Mountain is a unique panoramic site that has attracted humankind for time immemorial. The first modern humans to marvel at this imposing, awe - striking view of Table Mountain ought to be Middle Stone Age people living along the southernmost coast of the African Coast. And this was some 100,000 years ago. Back in our country, there are some outstanding places that have thrilled human beings for long periods of time. The first people to stand at Tsodilo were definitely thrilled by the imposing 400 metres high Male Hill, the breadth of the Female Hill, its striking granite cliffs, rock shelters and plateaus. An ancient lake that existed to the west of the Male Hill some 20,000 years ago, provided a fascination to visiting hunter gatherer groups and wild animals alike.Tsodilo Hills is currently the only World Heritage Site in Botswana. Its universally recognized value as a heritage site has not gone unnoticed in Botswana.
The name Tsodilo has become a brand in the country. Schools, trading companies, the village of Tsodilo, streets and buildings are now named after this renowned site. It is a brand like any other that exists elsewhere in the world. Like any famous place in the world, the hills are viewed differently by people. To the local Basarwa population staying at Tsodilo, they are The Mountains of the Gods. To the Hambukushu people living in the delta, they are a sacred place of their origin. It is here that the creator first ushered them to the world together with their cattle through a rope from the heavens. Grooves on granite rocks found within the hills mark the story of their origins. There is compelling evidence of the mystery of the hills on several parts of this world heritage site. From a great serpent worshipped in a cave by Middle Stone Age people some 50,000 years ago, over 4,500 rock paintings, to the first sex spot in the world, Tsodilo provides a fascination to the human mind compared to no other place in the world. Further south east of the delta, Lekhubu offered another attraction point comparable to nowhere in the country. An island of granite boulders in the middle of palaeolake Makgadikgadi attracted migratory birds and humans alike. Plant species were not to be outcompeted by their counterparts in the animal kingdom. A family of baobabs that are now over 60 in total, set out on a mission to colonise this panoramic island. Middle Stone Age spear heads and Late Stone Age arrow heads found here paint a vivid and long period of human existence in Lekhubu. When a group of Leopards Kopje farmers finally landed here in around AD 1000 and built the historically acclaimed Lost City of the Kalahari at around AD 1000, the image of this famous monument was augmented into a somewhat outstanding universal value.
And then there is the Okavango Delta and the world famous lions of the Savuti in the Chobe National Park. The list of famous heritage sites that helped brand Botswana is endless. To the ordinary Motswana, these may not be of any significance to their daily life. Batswana do not pride themselves with their heritage. Many people born and bred in this country have never visited these heritage sites or least; care to identify themselves with prominent heritage sites found in their areas. In recent times, I have casually asked elderly men and women in public areas about unique heritage sites that they identify themselves with from their local areas. The majority of those who managed to give an answer indicated the importance of historical sites. Perhaps I should task you with the responsibility to think about something that strikes your mind about your home village or town. Which feature, building or place gives your village a unique appearance? If you have no idea, I will attempt to provide some clues about the areas that I have visited in this country. These features may not necessarily be the actual images or brands of these areas according to you. If you have ever been to Bokspits, Struizendum or Khawa, then you may agree with me that vast sand dunes found here brand these villages. If you take out the sand dunes from Khawa, it becomes just another village in the middle of the desert. Tsabong is marked by that water tank on a sand dune to the west of the desert town. But what about Werda, Ghanzi, Tshane, CharlesHill and other places in the desert? Before the imposing statue of Bathoen II, what feature defined Kanye? Is there anything unique or outstanding that helps us to brand Lobatse apart from the Old High Court building? Just some questions for your imagination. At Otse we can all agree that Lentswe la Baratani are a brand unique to this village only. Mogonye has its "rain tree" at Mogonye Gorges while Manyana has its rock paintings and MmaSechele cave. Molepolole has Ntsweng and Livingstone Cave which is locally known as Ntsweng. Gaborone has the Parliament Square, Orapa House, the Onion Tower, the Three Chiefs Monument and several others. Mochudi has Phuthadikobo Museum and perhaps Rasesa can claim Matsieng Monument. What about Mahalapye?
The imposing roofless walls of the LMS Church define Palapye while Moremi Gorge brands the Tswapong Hills. While we can all agree that Thataganyane Hills and the Bangwato Royal Cemetery are an image of Serowe, can we say that Maun is represented by the delta? What about Kasane? The well preserved Gateway Baobabs of Kavimba have remained somewhat vivid in my mind ever since I visited the area in 1994. So are the imposing "mining hills" of Orapa and the red and white smelting pipe of Selebi Phikwe locally known as "chumela." Francistown has its magnificent Nyangagwe Hill while Dukwi has its elephant shaped baobab. What about the rest of the villages I have not mentioned here? What is there in Tutume, Maitengwe, Sebina, Masunga and Bobonong that stands out as a unique identifier of these places?