Ten kilometres west of Boatle, lies the Mogonye Gorges of Mogonye Village, which make part of the Greater Gaborone Heritage Trail that includes the National Botanical Gardens.
The site is on the land Cecil John Rhodes built the ‘Gaborone Hotel’ about 100 years ago, in present day Village, that is currently being designed by the Ministry of Youth Sport and Culture to show tourism and recreational destinations in and around Gaborone.
Gladys Kokorwe, the Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture, spoke at a press briefing that preceded an expedition up the gorges.
She said that Batswana travel and some have gone as far as the Niagara Falls and Disneyland.
But, she asked how many were aware of their own treasure. She mentioned the Moremi Gorge and the Gcwihaba Caves. Being inside the Gcwihaba Caves, she said, is a unique experience.
“Batswana should appreciate the beauty of their own country,” she said.
A few hours later, twenty minutes away from Gaborone, we ventured on an expedition on the picturesque Kgophu ya Mamotshwane. It was a fairly moderate climb on which we certainly saw evidence that the gorges have spiritual significance in the community. Metal cans that have been left in the hills after being used for cleansing littered our path.
Along the water trails, and beds of water with crabs scuttling sideways, is the fern tree which is reportedly prevalent to Mmamotshwane.
The Bofitlha tree (fern) is believed by the community to be the source of life to the gorge, and removing these fern trees could spell an end to the life of the gorge with its waterfalls that give the optical illusion that one is close to the blue sky.
There are actually seven gorges on the Mmabofula, Manyelanong and Mamotshwane Hills in Mogonye, with springs and valleys that feed Metsimaswaane River, which ultimately feeds the Gaborone Dam.
The other six gorges are named, Kgophu ya Marete (Marete spring), used by the community as a water point for their livestock, Kgophu ya Nkwe (Leopard Valley), which they regard as a sacred site, also used by churches for spiritual purposes though it is believed that a leopard resides in it.
Kgophu ya Mmamasiloanoka (Hammerkop Valley) got its name from the Hammerkop’s nest found at the spring. Its water is used primarily by wild animals, Kgophu ya Dinyonyane (Bird’s spring) a small spring with low volumes of water which supplies birds only.
The Kgophu ya Thukwi (Aardwolf’s Valley) is the home of large numbers of aardwolves. There is saline soil along the valley and the community used to trap animals at the saline area, and finally, Kgophu ya Lerukuru (Spirostchys Africana) there are a lot of morukuru trees in this spring, which the community uses to roof their huts.
Minister Kokorwe spoke to the villagers of Mogonye in February, alerting them to the heritage in their backyards, encouraging them to preserve the Mogonye Gorges, where consequently the International Museum Day 2009, will take place on the 19th May, 2009.
The day will be celebrated under the theme, ‘Museums and Tourism’. It will alert the nation about the gorges. The site management, carried out by Mmamotshwane Conservation Trust, which was formed in November 2008, has a board whose stakeholders include the Technical Advisory Board and Botswana Tourism Board.