Fun in Serowe
Post by Meaghan Pope from University of Illinois at Chicago
This past weekend, we had the opportunity to visit the Khama Rhino Sanctuary in Serowe, Botswana for a nighttime game drive. We were able to see not only white rhinos, but wildebeest, impala, ostriches and zebras; some of the students even saw a leopard!
Botswana relies heavily on tourism, and destinations like the Khama Rhino Sanctuary, Mokolodi Nature Reserve, Chobe National Park, among others are national treasures. They create jobs for locals and bring in tourist dollars to support the local economy and infrastructure.
The night drive, although very cold (many of us brought blanket covers from the dorms we were provided at the sanctuary), was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget. As we ventured further into the bush, my group fell into silent observation of the various creatures as the guides shone lights over their eyes, which reflected back at us in the dark. It was an eerie moment as we saw the disembodied head of a wildebeest staring back at us as it idly grazed the grassy plain.
The following day, we paid a visit to a nearby museum called the Khama III Memorial Museum, also in Serowe. The students were given a brief background into the history of the village through a guided tour of photographs, personal items that belonged to previous chiefs and various pieces of Botswana art. In addition to this, there was an entire room dedicated to the memory of the beloved Southern African writer, Bessie Head, where her works and personal photographs were put on display.
Other items that the museum had on display were traditional medicines, musical instruments and finely crafted baskets created by local Batswana. The baskets feature many aesthetically interesting designs but they’re also designed to convey a message about an event that happened in the past, an omen, or observations of wildlife.
After the museum tour, we were given the chance to take a short hike nearby to visit the Royal Cemetery where the first president of Botswana, Sir Seretse Khama lies buried next to his wife, Ruth Khama, and influential figureheads central to the development of Botswana as an independent country. Although we were not allowed to take pictures, the view granted at the top of the hill overlooking Serowe is one that I will never forget.
This previous weekend gave us a chance to see and experience more of Botswana outside of Gabs and to delve into the cultural history of the village of Serowe. I will be sad when the program ends, but I’m glad to have taken away so much knowledge about the local culture!