The national Flag is light blue with a white edged horizontal black stripe in the centre. The blue represents sky and water, while the black and white symbolise equality and unity between races. The light blue colour resembles that of the Lilac Breasted Roller and it is thus no wonder that this bird is called by many of the locals, the national bird.
LIFE ON THE LILY PADS
The Blue water lily (Tswii) is common in the waterways of the Okavango. This plant has many medicinal uses - bladder problems, asthma, blisters, diabetes, infertility and skin problems, to mention but a few. Closely associated to the water lily, is the African Jacana or lily-trotter. This bird's foot distributes its weight perfectly so that it can walk on the floating lily leaves and stems. The Jacana is one of two birds in the region that are polyandrous; this is to say that the male tends the eggs and young. The female courts many males, lays the eggs and then moves on.
The mixed marginal floodplain woodland and the surrounding semi-permanent flood plains are primarily home to Cape buffalo, bushbuck, red lechwe, baboon and Sitatunga
The traditional dug-out canoe, or "Mokoro" (plural, "Mekoro") was originally introduced into the Okavango Delta by the Bayei tribe who moved into the region from the Zambezi river area after the 1750’s. The presence of the tsetse fly meant that pastoralism was not possible and instead they relied on hunting and fishing for subsistence. Trees that were favoured by the Bayei people for the construction of mekoro were, the Kiaat (Pterocarpus Angolensis) or "mukwa" in Setswana, the Jackal Berry tree (Diospyros Mespiliformis) or "Mokutshumo" and the sausage tree (Kigelia Africana) or "Moporota." A tree might take well over a century to attain Mokoro size, but the lifespan of the Mokoro would typically only be about 5 - 8 years. The pole or "ngashi" that is used to push the Mokoro along is commonly made from the Silver Terminalia tree (Terminalia Sericea) or "Mogonono". The straight growth form of the young branches, coupled to the elasticity of the wood, make it ideally suited to the task.
The Zebra is the unofficial animal of the nation. To the local people, the zebra is phrased "Makgabisa Naga" which means to make the bush beautiful.
One of the most important words in Botswana is "Pula". Not only is this the national unit of currency it also means rain and rain is life. With the majority of the country being semi-arid, rain is very important. The word pula can also be used as a toast. 100 shields, "dithebe", make one Pula. The Pula currency was introduced in 1976.
Most of the water used in Botswana comes from boreholes. Some of the water being tapped is considered fossil and has been dated at 33 000 years. This ground water is of great importance since it is estimated that 75% of the human and stock population depend on it.
A rhyme to remember:
In Botswana many people are referred to as Batswana, one person is a Motswana and the language spoken is Setswana.
STAR GAZING – AFRICAN NIGHT SKIES
The dry winter months are particularly good for stargazing. This is primarily because there are no clouds and the crisp winter air makes for clear viewing.
Some of the star constellations that can be seen in the Botswana night skies during the summer months:
· Great Square
Some of the star constellations that can be seen in the Botswana night skies during the winter months:
· Southern Cross
Some of the planets that can be seen during the year in the Botswana night skies.