There is a location in Botswana that claims to be the birthplace of man. We Adventourists often wonder where we are going, but it is only a rare occasion that we are faced with the question of where we come from. Behind a couple poorly secured gates, you can be lead by a napping woman through the sleepy sandstone footprints and petroglyphs of Matsieng. Matseing, in lore, is the first huge man who stepped out of a hole in the ground. His people followed and left footprints immortalized in the sandstone dating back 3000 to 10,000 years. This is quite the span and the story of literal manifestation is a bit far fetched, but it is worth exploring how long we have been here in the limited amount of time we have in this very place and time.
Speaking of folklore, Kebokwe’s Cave, has opposing origin stories like an episode of Black Mirror, starring your favorite Adventourists hoping to work things out. Is it the birthplace of black magic or Christianity? The locals may tell you that witches were shoved off “execution rock” in the wake of the namesake Kebokwe. Playing against this superstition, David Livingstone convinced the leader of the land, Kgosi of the Bakwena, Sechele I, to spend a night in the caves in 1847. The promise that no ill would befall them lead to converting the area to Christianity as a power to overcome the evil sprits. The faithful still make treks to the cave to be met by curious tourists looking back at the opposing forces battling for sacred ground.
The Three Dikgosi
Sebel I followed the progressive nature of his predecessor Sechele I when he travelled to Britain with Bathoen I, and Khama III to plead with the queen. They gave themselves over to the crown to avoid being consumed by the British South Africa Company. While this sounds like a weak move in a Game of Thrones episode, it eventually saved the country from the apartheid. Controversy still travels the local tongue, but 18 foot statues were erected in 2005 to commemorate each member of this journey.
Makgadikgadi Salt Pans
The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans are arguably the largest salt pans in the world measuring over 10,000 square miles of desolation. Despite the apparent ruin of earth, they are a major breeding ground for flamingos when there is torrential rain falling sometimes only once a decade. We humans can’t track how nature finds these moments to flourish, but when the weather brings water to these flats, the flamingos flock to this land protected from predators to give birth to their young, then trek for several days with their flightless little wings to find their way back to fresh water and life. If you can’t join us in Africa, you can see a beautifully shot narrative of this miracle about a third of the way through the first episode of “Our Planet” on Netflix.