The sacred water spring

Kasane like all other places has her unique features that contribute to her magnificent surrounding blending well with her flora and fauna. She possesses a mixture of aesthetic resources rarely found in other parts of Botswana that attracts both local and foreign tourists. A drive in or out of Kasane from the eastern direction (Kazungula road) gives one an opportunity to see the evergreen Chobe farms that produces most of the fruits and vegetables sold in local shops. Between the two farms lies a 250 meters width passage termed an animal corridor through which wild animals access the Chobe River. The latter corridor is reflected in the Kasane-Kazungula Development Plan 2000-2024, a plan that regulates developments in the area.  Afternoon drives along the environs of the animal corridor, allows one an opportunity to catch a glance at different animal species in the likes of elephants, springboks and kudus. In the early hours of the evening one is likely to run into buffalos on their return from the river. It is without a shred of doubt that the frequency of hippos and kudus especially in the evening, to a greenery patch of grass next to the farm implies that the grass tastes good. The latter provides an opportunity to see the short legged river animal. The previous statements augment the beauty of the animal corridor as it provides an opportunity rarely encountered by many thus viewing different animal species in one area/location – scenery mostly associated with national parks and game reserves.     The corridor is commonly known as “ko metsing a a letswai” by the community of Kasane, a phrase derived out of a water spring that is found in the area.  The spring lies approximately 300 meters from the main road into the animal corridor and it is believed to be sacred by some members of Kasane community. Different church denominations and individuals in Kasane frequent the area to collect the “sacred water” for ritual cleansing, drinking and sprinkling it on their bodies for protection. A brief interview with some regulars of the area confirmed that the water is collected by the pilgrimage community comprised of Christians, traditional healers and individuals from all over Botswana thus giving the spring an immense symbolic and religious significance.    It is interesting to note that the spring is protected by the Monument and Relics Act of 2001.  Signage along the road that notifies visitors of the spring was erected by the Department of Museum, an initiative worth giving credit.  Interrogation of the above leads one to classify the water spring as a cultural resource, an unquestionable assumption supported by our National Policy on Culture (approved by Cabinet on 4th April 2001, Directive No. CAB 17/2001). The latter policy defines culture as fundamental rights of the human being, value systems, traditions and beliefs. The policy recognizes the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) world heritage convention of 1972 that encourages member states to protect cultural and natural heritage.       Culture can be interpreted to be beliefs, values and lifeways of people within a society. It’s not something that is biologically inherited or passed through genes. Instead it’s learnt and consists of a series of memories and interpretations of contemporary generations adopted from ancestors or community.   Erection of information sign boards done by the Department of Museum notifying those concerned that the site is protected is not enough. There is need for intensive research to be conducted, a collaborative research that should involve local community members and academics, the findings which can help to interpret the site better and devise appropriate measures of preservation. Rhodes (2002) argues that landscapes are also viewed as cultural resources especially if they are used as spiritual or religious places by communities. A typical example is the forest used by the Bakgatla during initiation ceremonies, a place that is revered by the Bakgatla community or individuals. We appreciate our government’s effort of listing the water spring as a protected area, something I regard as a mileage claim that needs further sharpening. Exploration of the site is likely to yield some positives that may characterize the spring as a potential tourist attraction site. Additionally, exploration of the site will show our government’s appreciation of intangible heritage of the local community as reflected in our own National Policy on Culture.

Last modified on Wednesday, 31 July 2013 16:32

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