Tuesday, March 5, 2024

A peep and a walk in the Botanic Garden

A walk in the trails of the national museum botanic garden is a spellbinding unforgettable experience; and it is within the city centre.
In the botanic garden sits the Old Gaborone Hotel.

A golden plate stuck in the front of the building, which was given a new lease of life after it was refurbished, explains how the building came to exist in that area.

According to the National Museum inscription on the golden plate, the Old Gaborone Hotel, although not actually a hotel,┬áwas constructed in the 1880’s as a resting place for Cecil Rhodes.

It further states that pioneers could rest their wagons, secured against Boer Commandos, by the British Bechuanaland mounted police.

“Here, they even planned the infamous 1899 Jameson Raid,” the inscription also reads. “Today, this building has been renovated to its former glory; its preservation ensured by the status of national monuments.”

On the display inside the house is a tiger fish in a fish tank and a reproduced dead Kudu on display.

A guide explains that under the National History Division, there are three structures, such as Herbarium, which deals with dead and living plants, Zoology, and Geology, which deals with indigenous rocks.

The tiger fish and the reproduced Kudu on display are under Zoology. Under geology, there is nothing that is currently on display.

Indigenous rocks could be on display but are not exhibited due to security reasons.

But once in a while, indigenous rocks are exhibited for the public.  

In the botanic garden, there are exotic and indigenous plants. Most of the indigenous plants and trees are medicinal plants.

He points at indigenous herbal tea plants and explains that the herbal tea is called Mosukutswane and Mosukudu. The trees have been used in Tswana tradition.

Next to Mosukutswane and Mosuku, a devil clay (Sengaparile plant) has  been caged in a metal box.

It has been caged to prevent Monkeys and rock rabbits (Pela) from digging its tubers.

He points at another tree dubbed Longana. The tree, according to his knowledge, is usually found in places where there are rivers.

He explained that exotic plants need more water compared to indigenous plants. 

At another corner is a cactus plant, called Meno a Noga. The  sticker at the end of the branch explains that  that cactus originates from Zimbabwe.

A family of Cycads plants also stand among other plants. Its  name has not been identified yet after it was confiscated from illegal plant smugglers.  A small green board explains how it came to the botanic garden.

The Cycads plant was confiscated from illegal plant smugglers by the Plant Protection Division in the Ministry of Agriculture at Ramokgwebana boarder post and was donated to the botanical garden in 2005.

The plant was confiscated after the smugglers failed to produce a permit. In South Africa it is illegal to carry a plant without a permit.

Other indigenous trees in the garden are Mowana (Adansonia Digitata) and Moologa.
Behind the refurbished hotel there is a burial site dubbed Time Capsule.

The Time Capsule is expected to be open on June 5 2044. The burial site has dead plants and animal bones which have been kept in safe boxes. According to the museum inscription on the burial site, the purpose of opening it is meant to show the future generation the effects that humans had on biodiversity.

The Capsule was buried on the 5 of June 1995 during World Environment Day celebration which was officiated over by the then Minister of Education, Gaositwe Chiepe.

 It includes the remains of biodiversity together with an apology letter to the future generation for the adverse effects that humans have had on the environment.

The number of trees continues as you  traverse the garden. There is Nkodi Nkulu, a poisonous cactus plant.  A guide explains that though it is poisonous bees can suck their flowers.

One exotic tree known as Mositsana (Calvin Bush) is used by women who weave baskets to decorate the baskets.

The Resurrection plant, dubbed “Lerite La tshwene’ in Setswana,┬áis a plant that looks dry as if it is dead. According to the guide, when the rain comes, the plant colour changes immediately.

“It will turn┬ágreen,” he remarked.

Another plant that grows on other trees is Palamela.  Though it grows on other trees, it is not parasitic.

Monna ga apare (Adenia glauca), which resembles a picture of male genitals, is another tree that the guide refused to shed light about its medicinal background.

What he knows is that  when the traditional doctors harvest it, they strip themselves naked. 

Mosimama, which is used for bathing after burials, is one of the plants that are in the botanic garden. Usually people use it to bath and wash the deceased’s clothes because they believe that it cleanses bad luck.


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