KASANE, Botswana, May 2020/ — For some reason, I think that all those years I spent surveying the ravines and tributaries of my childhood cattlepost mo motlhaleng wa banyana, sorry, I mean dipudi, must be the fuel that is fueling my newly revived wanderlust. That and the fact the place that I currently reside in offers acres and acres to indulge in this. Kasane.
I must admit that in the past two years since I touched base in Kasane my range has increasingly quite admirably. For the first time, via the Kasane International Airport, I flew to Europe, Sweden to be exact, quite a few times. Quite an enlightening experience I must say. For one, people keep to themselves. In the malls or wherever, you would think nobody knows nobody. Everyone minds their business.
Unlike here at home. Venture to any mall in Botswana, you would come back having chatted to seven co-workers in between clothing aisles. If it is not that, it is bumping awkwardly with the cousin that you owe a smallernyana loan by the liquor store refrigeration stops. I have seen people who have never met before in life start a mall-atm-queue-chat, then proceed to a liquor store and follow each other in their cars for a session somewhere. Just like that. Not the Swedes.
Which is the reason I have always done me, that is take the bull by the horns. In Sweden, whenever I visit the city of Gothenburg, the first thing that I always do is locate is a nice drinking hole that I can feel quite comfortable without being reminded that I am just a simple guy from Tonota- that other place famed for its Specialty Magwinya Bakeries and an old man by the name of Ra-Nkamo. Dispensed with that, touring an old European city loaded with fermented liquids can be quite something. I may or may not have got lost a couple of times, only to keep on returning to an establishment by the name of the Irish Embassy. Home from home, I have since established it is my European base. This is a thing you can only experience by travelling.
Even the flying is an experience, and here I am not talking about the free liquor and the oeuvre d’ors. When I flew during the night over the Middle East I was mesmerized by the blinking lights down below. It’s like a 3D redention of the towns and cities, in LED glory. I spent the time trying to pin-point the area’s hotspots. I only stopped peering down the window, when I started seeing imaginary missiles coming towards us. It is here at this moment that I come to appreciate the beauty of my home town, Kasane and the entire district.
Having spent my formative years in this town, I have never lost the connection. To this day I get emotional when I pass by some areas that used to be the stomping grounds of my BMX Bicycle Gang. Even with the new developments, the feeling is still there. Like where the Chobe Marina is currently placed, where it used to be a quasi-international border for dug-out canoes and a sprawling open air mango farm. Most of my classmates preferred this farm than Kasane primary school for whatever it is that young boys do. I guess we just preferred a healthier diet of mango purees than the school staple of beans and malutu.
To really enjoy this town, you need to have friends who have friends in that and that. On you own it can all seem sleepy and lifeless. These are the guys that can get you a boat or game drive vehicle, that operate in not so tight European standards. Just don’t expect any thrills and frills. You will also have to support your habits. It helps if you know a few other people who are in the same moono. I have been reliably informed that you need a cooler box, for what purpose I can only proffer a wild guess. With these, you are assured of great afternoons and evenings that even your smart phone memory cannot all hold.
I have a vivid memory of such a day sometime towards the end of the year. Me and an alleged friend took a lazy drive along what is called a cut-line. This is the route along the invisible boundary between Zimbabwe and Botswana just a stone throw away from the village of Lesoma. This is the same Lesoma famed for man-eating lions and a war monument. Anyway, we wound up at this wildlife watching spot, usually teaming with wild elephants.
However, on this day what we witnessed was a spectacle of giraffes racing. I assure you they were, in heats like at Olympics and there were even categories. It started with young one, progressing to the big horns. In another heat I saw what seemed to be males only race. This went on for about an hour or so in a stretch of dirt road that we had previously passed on. When I tell this story to my other alleged friends, they argue that the contents of the blue cooler box that I was seen exiting the local liquor store with might be responsible for my ‘visions’. I will tell you about these experiences some other time.