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Flood of Hope: Waters Return to the Okavango Delta

FLOOD OFHOPE

It is a truly wondrous thing that the cycle of nature continues regardless, despite what may be happening in the world. After a challenging, but not necessarily unusually dry year in the Okavango Delta, the annual inundation has finally arrived.

Bringing life back into the system, water levels are rising on Wilderness Safaris’ Abu, Jao, Mombo and Vumbura concessions. Over the past weeks water has been flowing in to fill up dry river beds and replenish floodplains – with water reaching the riverine forest edges.

“The process started seven months ago in September 2019 with the start of the rainy season in the highlands of Angola, from where the Okavango Delta sources its life-giving waters. Satellite rainfall data for the catchment shows that average to above average rainfall has fallen in the highlands over this season.

The Cuito and Cubango rivers, the two main tributaries feeding the Kavango River, transfer rain water first through peat wetlands and source lakes and then through narrow steams, and rivers, until it arrives in Namibia and Botswana several months later”, comments Rob Taylor, Wilderness Safaris Conservation Ecologist in Botswana.

In addition to supporting the myriad wildlife and specialist species that exist within the protected wildlife areas of the Delta, this miracle of nature is also crucial to the survival of the people of Botswana.

As Rob adds, “Community-owned livestock can drink, ground water is replenished, refilling water wells, and water is made available to subsistence and small commercial agriculture on the outskirts of the World Heritage Site and close to the villages that surround the Okavango Delta. With the arrival of the floods, the fish start to breed in the warm, shallow waters where access to nutrients allows life to flourish”.

While it is a spectacle that some guests will miss witnessing in person this year, Wilderness Safaris will continue to document and share the highlights of this year’s flood via their online platforms. When travel restrictions are finally lifted, a revitalised and rejuvenated wilderness experience will be ready and waiting for our guests.

HOW ROBERT TAYLOR DETAILED THE REVIVAL

Coupled with late rains, the arrival of the 2020 inundation brings some relief to northern Botswana, in the midst of the current turmoil of COVID-19 and the collapse in tourism-related industries around the globe.

Weather patterns and the resulting rainfall in south-central Africa are becoming more sporadic and erratic, resulting in droughts such as the one experienced in 2019. Despite this, we are happy to report that the waters are arriving in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, breathing life back into the system. Levels are starting to rise at our Vumbura camps, and together with the late rains the trees are now green, the pans are full and life is plentiful.

The process started seven months ago in September 2019 with the start of the rainy season in the highlands of Angola, from where the Okavango Delta sources its life-giving waters. Satellite rainfall data for the catchment shows that average to above average rainfall has fallen in the highlands over this season.

The Cuito and Cubango rivers, the two main tributaries feeding the Kavango River, transfer rain water first through peat wetlands and source lakes and then through narrow steams, and rivers, until it arrives in Namibia and Botswana several months later.

The flood reached its peak at Rundu in Namibia at the beginning of March 2020 and the waters have already begun to subside.  Subsequently we have received reports from Shakawe in northern Botswana that the river has burst its banks and inundated vast areas of floodplain.

As the river widens the amplitude of the flood decreases from a rise in ~4m at Rundu down to a rise of only ~1m at Guma Lagoon where it enters the alluvial fan of the Okavango Delta. Over the past few weeks the waters have begun to rise at our Vumbura camps in the heart of the Okavango Delta.

The average to above average rainfall in the upper catchment in Angola has transitioned into the neat flood peak in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. What does this mean for the region’s communities, wildlife and tourism?

Community-owned livestock can drink, ground water is replenished, refilling water wells, and water is made available to subsistence and small commercial agriculture.

With the arrival of the floods the fish start to breed in the shallow flood waters. Warm, shallow waters and the access to nutrients allow life to flourish. Wetland vegetation grows and many animals begin to concentrate in the vast floodplains.

Tourism is the backbone of the region’s economy and this unique annual flood event passing through one of Africa’s largest pristine natural areas separates this region from Africa’s many other superb natural offerings.

Adopted from Wilderness-Safaris.com/blog/posts/

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WeekendLife

Fashion designers knocked down by COVID-19

26th May 2020

As the world mourns over the gravity of thousands of lives lost due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and the millions of lives around the globe it has affected, local fashion designers have not been spared.

WeekendLife caught up with a few fashion designers who said the novel coronavirus has severely disrupted their profit making season. There is no doubt that the fashion industry forms a huge part of the creative sector, which currently employed a lot of creatives. Today, the industry like many others is bleeding due to the pandemic, leaving many designers without income streams.

In an interview, Founder of Fierce Designs, Lucrecia Kgowane, who has showcased at Miss Botswana fashion show 2019 and FNB fashion show 2019, and also sponsor of ‘The annual Beauty with albinism Botswana’ explained that this has been the toughest season for fashion designers.

“As designers we were badly affected in the beginning because usually fashion designers in the country work looking at the calendar of events and weddings, mostly because our clientele do not buy clothes for casual wear but for events and weddings. More especially weddings because February, March, April, May is wedding season and it is also our peak season,” she said.

“So when the wedding season took over, weddings were cancelled. I had clients who cancelled their weddings, bridal showers and their dresses. National events were cancelled as well, events like Durban July, every event that people dress up to were cancelled. We ran out of business and closed our offices. Then from lockdown we were working from home.”

Amid all these, she explained that Debswana employed them to make masks for staff in bulk. “Before the masks, it was very bad because there was no income at all. Nobody was calling in for any dresses because they had nowhere to go. We were then contacted by Debswana to make face masks. So we are currently in contact with Debswana and making masks,” she said.

“Besides that we are making individual masks that are a bit outstanding and stylish compared to what we usually get from the shops. We tried doing designer masks for our clients to stand out. Right now every tailor designer is making face masks. We are trying as much as possible to do different types of masks to try and beat the market. This is how we recovered. It is not as good as it should be but it is not bad.”

She further explained that LEA in connection with Debswana helped with the contract for face masks, a project for LEA clients for Debswana. Currently, like many other fabric shops they are totally reliant on face masks for profit. She said they were bound to launch their new winter collection but until they can access fabric shops their hands are tied.

“Also, the masks that we make are unique and very stylish making wearing them fun and less stressful, we have turned them into accessories that one can match with any outfit and personally I see face masks existing even after coronavirus pandemic. They make a very strong fashion statement,” she concluded.

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WeekendLife

Creatives to finally laugh all the way to the bank!

26th May 2020
Creatives

Very often people tend to underestimate the impact of culture and creativity as agents of economic growth.

According to the Cultural Times, the first global map of creative industry, revenues generated globally in 2013 from cultural and creative industries totaled US$2,250 billion and employed over 29 million people.

The current COVID-19 crisis is particularly critical for cultural and creative sectors due to the sudden and massive loss of revenue opportunities, especially for the more fragile players. Some actors benefit from public support (e.g. public museums, libraries, theatres) but may experience significant budget shortfalls.

The sector includes major multinational companies with sustainable revenues, but many small companies and freelance professionals essential for the sector could face bankruptcy. This crisis creates a structural threat to the survival of many firms and workers in cultural and creative production.

However, public and private companies have come to rescue creatives from this mess. I must say it is a welcome development for some creatives were already feeling some kind of blue, and who knows maybe something unscrupulous could have ensued because of a small thing as having nothing to sustain your life, which can only be money in this instance.

First National Bank Botswana FNBB has announced further details on the approved programmes and intended disbursements of its P1.5 million contribution to COVID-19 relief in support of the performing arts and creative industry.

Peo Porogo, the FNBB Director of Marketing and Communications said at times like these, they need the arts and culture more than ever, saying singing unites people, while dancing keeps them active.

‘’Each one of the activities that we have identified will help mitigate COVID-19 social impact and demonstrated how the arts, culture and fashion play a role in public health, social cohesion and resilience.’’

FNBB Foundation has issued a call for proposal in categories which support COVID-19 social communications, behavior change, entertainment and public safety which are music, fine arts, literary arts, dance, comedy, photography as well as short films. The group also looks to give money to online music shows and fashion.

FNBB wishes to run a digital writer’s workshop where attendants will be entered into an essay competition. The top 5 best essay’s will be rewarded P5000 each, while the facilitator will go home with only P10 000.

The bank says it has partnered with a local radio station to run a music show where artists will be challenged to record and submit songs that have an underlying message on the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘’Songs shortlisted will be entered into a competition where the top 3 will be rewarded an amazing amount of money.’’

Poetry has also been contained within the list. FNBB will extended sponsorship for two online poetry sessions each valued at P25 000, in which the theme will be Impact of COVID-19 on the Creative Arts. Short films also carry the same theme, but the amount of hard work put in these videos come with lot of coin, which amounts to P100 000 each participant.

Further, the bank looks to engage two associations that specialize in fine arts. ‘’The associations should have the experience and reach to facilitate online art lessons that will lead into an art competition. The jobs will be spread across different categories such as painting, drawing or sculpting, all valued at P35 000.’’

FNBB will also sponsor production of a COVID-19 memoirs photobook, a sponsorship that is open to producers who will facilitate purchase of photographic content from local photographers to be featured in this production. The sponsorship is valued at P75 000 including production and payment of content used.

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WeekendLife

Amantle Brown, Gigi Lamayne collaborate

19th May 2020
Amantle Brown

Songbird sensation, Amantle Brown has released her first international collaboration with South African female rapper, Gigi Lamayne who is known for her collaborations with renowned artists the likes of Ricky Rick, King Monada and many more acclaimed.

The duo have released an upbeat song dubbed ‘Sedidi’, which refers to an unstable man who finds it hard to settle down in a committed relationship. The ‘Lethabo’ hitmaker shared with WEEKENDLIFE that she has always wanted to work with the renowned South African and thus decided to Direct Message (DM) her on social media for a collaboration and as the saying goes, “the rest is history”.

“I sent her a DM telling her I wanted to do a collaboration with her and then she responded. Afterwards she came to Botswana doing her radio tours and we linked and she added a verse to my song. It did not take much as I had already recorded the song, she only had to put a verse to it,” she said.

She further stated that the song is about a guy who is not certain about himself, as to whether he wants to commit and settle down in a relationship or run helter-skelter. “I am basically saying, how come you do not seem to be stable,” she explained.

“It is an amazing collaboration. Gigi Lamayne is such an amazing person, we have started being friends and we are communicating frequently. I was just telling her about my struggles this side and she told me about hers that side. Then we decided to help each other however we can to help market each other in our countries.”

Brown further stated that since working with the South African rapper she is now alive to many things. “Working with her taught me that, although we see these people having big platforms, we think they are living in abundance and everything is just cool with them but you get to notice that the challenges we face this side, they also face them that side, sabotages, promoters, plugging a song and many more. They have the same struggles as us, so we just need to put a bit of hard work.”

“She also touched on the fact that it is so hard for women to do collaborations together, but we need to realise that when we work together as women, we can build up to the respect that we want men to give us,” she said.

Known for her unique renditions, Brown gives her fans a heads up that this time around people should not expect the usual signature lyrical vocals that people have come to know her for.

“Its upbeat, it is also Caribbean and calls people to move. It is so empowering it is like we women are telling guys to sit down as they look like they are indecisive and that they must decide. It is like we are showing our power,” she said.

When asked whether men have a problem with commitment she said, “Well, this is a very complicated situation. I do not think there is no guy who can commit when he is not ready or when he doesn’t love the woman. A guy who genuinely loves a woman automatically that feeling hits him hard. If someone is not ready to settle they can never be with any woman no matter how beautiful and confident she is, there is nothing you can do to that guy. A man commits where he wants not when he is made to commit,” she said.

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