The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time, they say, is now. After ignorantly sitting on a gold mine for decades the sluggish village of Mogobane in the South East District has finally awoken from its slumber.
Through their Development and Conservation Trust the village folks look to tap into the lucrative tourism industry and convert their natural gems into a cash cow for the benefit of the 2700+ residents.
Located behind the Famous Lentswe La Baratani (The Hill of Lovers) Mogobane is a 20 minutes’ drive from the capital city Gaborone. It is home to the picturesque poplar plantation (Dipopolere), Mogobane Dam, Segorong and a Birds Sanctuary along the dam.
The village is also within close proximity to other places on interests like Lentswe La Baratani itself and Mannyelanong near Otse village. All these places create a significant base for eco-tourism in the region which has yet to be fully exploited.
“The recent announcement by the department of Museum and Art Galleries of a planned P15 Million museum project near Segorong and Lentswe la Baratani bears testimony to the potential of our region to be the go to place for tourists,” says the Mogobane Development and Conservation Trust Chairman, Dr. Victor Ruele.
“One of our envisaged projects is to provide residents and visitors with a quality, family-oriented water park while at the same time ensuring a safe, enjoyable entertainment facility that exemplifies pride in ownership and pride in facility,” Ruele says. He says the Trust intends to establish a profitable and growing business in the form of a waterpark, a cultural village, leisure and entertainment park at Dipopolere.
He says they intend to take advantage of the dam to introduce various water related fun activities such as swimming, water slides, splash pads, lazy rivers, and others.
Ruele says their mission is to provide residents and visitors with a quality, family-oriented water park while at the same time ensuring a safe, enjoyable entertainment facility that exemplifies pride in ownership and pride in facility. There are also plans to convert the poplar plantation into a recreational park and find ways to earn revenue for the development of the village.
The village’s bird sanctuary bordering the dam to the west aims to protect birds that are not classified as game birds (ducks and geese were the main reason for protection and they are game birds because they are hunted for meat). The reservoir is home to a variety of bird life, with as many as seventy species being recorded at different times of the year including eleven (11) species of herons and egrets, fourteen (14) species of ducks and geese and twenty (24) species of waders. In summer the shallows are used by waders and Black-headed and Grey Herons, Cattle Egret, Reed Cormorant and African Spoonbill which breed in the reed beds in the center of the shallows when they are surrounded by water. Orange-breasted Waxbill and Fantailed Cisticola are also found in the reeds and grasses around the reservoir.
Ruele says the village Trust aims to establish and maintain links with Ga-Malete Development Trust in order to further the common interests and objectives of the two Trusts.
Mogobane Waterpark and skydiving project is the brainchild of the area Councilor Sisimogang Abram who presented the concept to the South East District Council (SEDC).
“Subsequent to the motion ,which was debated and ratified by the Council, the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism wrote a letter to the Council advising that the facilitation of tourism developments and activities around Mogobane Dam would require, inter alia, community mobilization through the Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Coordinator to form a Trust which would ensure that the developments around Mogobane dam benefit the communities in the area,” Councilor Abram told the media at a Botswana Media & Allied Workers Union (BOMAWU) retreat held at the Dipopolere plantation this past weekend. He said the project was being implemented under the guidance and monitoring of the Ministry and SEDC. “There are other government agencies like the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) and the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture who have shown keen interest in the project and have pledged their unwavering support,” Abram told the media workers.
Currently the both Dipopolere and the dam are under the management of Mogobane Village Development Committee (VDC). People book with the VDC to stage events such as birthday parties, picnics, weddings and other leisure activities. This weekend the SEDC Chairman Phenyo Segokgo together with the area Councilor Abram, the Trust, and VDC hosted the local media workers union for an overnight camping retreat.
Mogobane is located 55 km South of Gaborone and 40 km east of Kanye. It is home to the Balete people who are related to those in Ramotswa, Gabane and Otse. The total population of the village and associated localities is 2,718 (Botswana Population and Housing Census, 2011). There are two primary schools and a junior secondary school.