Diamonds in Botswana
Botswana is one of the richest countries in Africa, which is partly due to the country’s large diamond finds. Many young people in Botswana work in the diamond industry. Here you can make money. In the past, rough diamonds were mostly processed abroad, today foreign companies also settle in Botswana. This creates jobs in the country. In the diamond grinding shops, female workers earn the equivalent of 200 euros a month, which is far more than they would earn elsewhere.
Everyone benefits from selling the diamonds because the money is invested. For example schools and hospitals are being built. The oldest diamond mine in Botswana is Orapa. It is also one of the largest mines around. The diamonds are extracted from the rock that is crushed. Most of the people in Botswana work in the mines.
Rich country – poor people
So you might think that maybe not all but many people in Botswana are fine. The government also puts some money into the country’s education system. Botswana has now moved up from the group of less developed countries to a country where people have a middle income.
Rich people live in Botswana, living in newly built villas. Golf courses and five-star hotels are not uncommon. Some residents own land, have shares in the land’s mines or work successfully in the tourism sector. Many residents go abroad to study here and bring their knowledge from abroad with them in order to implement it successfully in their own country. The government’s goal is to get more and more entrepreneurs to settle in Botswana. Botswana focuses on quality. The plan is to turn Botswana into something like “Switzerland of Africa”. This is one side of the country that is “doing well” compared to the rest of Africa.
But that does not mean that all people or even all children are well, because about 18 out of 100 people live below the poverty line, that is, on less than 1.90 dollars a day. These people mainly live in the countryside. Many children are malnourished and there are too few sanitary facilities such as toilets or washing facilities, especially in rural areas. That is why there are also various diseases.
Why do Botswana protect their nature?
Botswana was still one of the poorest countries in the world at the time of independence in 1966. Now it is one of the richer countries in Africa. Above all, the inhabitants of Botswana have recognized how important it is for themselves and their country to protect nature. Many tourists visit Botswana and almost 40 percent of the total area is protected.
In some cases, the locals manage the protected wilderness areas themselves, so that some of the income from tourism remains in the country and does not flow again abroad. Big game hunters have not been allowed to hunt since 2014, before that was still allowed because these hunters paid a lot of money. However, the animal population declined.
The “Chief” has a lot to say in Botswana
There are still many traditional villages and many ethnic groups in Botswana who still maintain their traditions. Away from the capital, Botswana is very rural. Many people work here in the livestock industry and raise cattle. Those who have their own cattle are considered rich. For a large part of the population, the country is developing almost too quickly. Botswana has a long and diverse culture.
In modern Botswana, the tribal chiefs and their families still have a great influence on developments. So there are still tribal gatherings today. There’s a chief, the chief. He’s not elected, he’s born chief. The chief is also mayor and registrar rolled into one. He bears a great deal of responsibility and has to make sure that people trust him and respect him. The chiefs in Botswana are important people who make decisions. But the government is trying to limit the power of the chiefs because such a small state is emerging within the state. It also does not correspond to the idea of democracy if someone is born into an office and is not elected.
Who are the San?
Almost every ethnic group in Botswana has its own rites and customs. The native people of the country are called San, they can be found all over southern Africa, including Botswana. They actually have the right to live according to their customs and traditions in the Kalahari reserve, but they still have to reckon with restrictions on their rights.
Today around 100,000 Bushmen (and Bushwomen) still live in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. They often live in very inhospitable areas, such as the Kalahari Desert. But the San have learned over the millennia to adapt to hostile conditions and to survive there. Their lifestyle of changing location and moving from hunting ground to hunting ground does not go down well with everyone in Botswana.
Although these are very old traditions that primarily protect nature because the San live very sustainably. So the government takes action again and again against San, who actually do nothing other than ensure their survival by hunting and collecting fruits and plants. But since 2014 there has been a hunting ban in Botswana. This was actually intended to put a stop to big game hunters, who mainly hunted rhinos, elephants and lions. But it is now also affecting the San, who primarily need meat for their diet. So they have to go hungry or be relocated. There are always conflicts here because the San don’t put up with it so easily.
In Botswana it rains very rarely in some areas. That is why people ask for rain for their plants. You bring a black cow as a sacrifice, mix the blood with herbs and spread the blood on the floor. That might sound strange to us, but it’s an old custom in Botswana.
Healers have important roles in these ancient traditions. Many tribes are also closely related to their deceased, the ancestors who ask for help. People dance, make music and want to establish contact with the deceased.
Even if many Christians live in Botswana, many people also worship their old gods. The supreme god is Modimo.