Maun people last weekend had the opportunity to learn more about the Okavango Delta from the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project (NGOWP) through the Nkashi Classic event.
The event, which was on its second year was organised by the Botswana Wild Bird Trust which administers the NGOWP. Last year the event involved an inaugural mekoro race along Thamalakane River as the main highlight of the day.
But due to drought and low water levels this year, Thamalakane River is bone dry and there is no nearby water for the race.
This year the event highlight was the public screening of the EMMY Nominated Into The Okavango film.
Directed by National Geographic Society filmmaker, Neil Gelinas and featuring people from Botswana, Namibia, Angola, South Africa as well as stunning wildlife photography and aerial views rarely seen.
There is a deeply moving chronicle of modern-day explorers on their first epic four-month, 2,400kilometres expedition across three countries on mekoro to save the river system that feeds the Okavango Delta.
Into The Okavango is an advocacy film, which attempts to draw the world’s attention not only to the Okavango River Basin but also for the protection of earth’s last wild places. The screening began with the VIP session at Nhabe Museum where Maun community leaders were given a chance to watch the film and discuss the NGOWP managers.
Speaking at the screening managing director of Botswana Wild Bird Trust, Koketso Mookodi said the event is the organisation’s “effort to start relevant conversations and collectively come up with solutions that will help contribute to the further protection of our beloved Okavango Delta”.
The chief executive officer of WBT John Hilton said the entity has branches in Angola and Botswana where they are trying to assist stakeholders in the protection of the Okavango Delta as one of the last wild place. Various speakers commended the WBT for bringing the works of their explorers, researchers and storytellers to Maun.
They also requested for more local collaborations with the project.
Nkashi Classic was once again hosted at Okavango River Lodge along Thamalakane River under the theme “connecting science community and conservation”.
The day started with pupils from schools around Matlapana in Maun picking up litter on the dry bed of Thamalakane River.
Apart from the film another major highlight of the event was the virtual reality experience of the Okavango Delta through National Geographic’s VR. The new Nat Geo VR, which is revolutionising the storytelling, was a major hit with both the kids and elders at the event.
The VR films allow viewers to get much closer to the Okavango Delta and access the almost real feel of being in the wilderness.
Nkashi Classic brought together families of the diverse community of Maun in a day filled with music, poetry, and dance.
The kids looked all sorts of tribal in their face paintings. There was also an exciting mokoro dragging challenge that saw men racing while pulling a loaded mokoro.