What makes Gaborone so unique, however, is that the visitor can enjoy all the familiar modern conveniences of home, but can gain entry into rural Africa, or wildlife areas, within minutes – having then the best of both possible worlds.
Gaborone boasts four, large American-style malls, replete with cinema complexes, a host of hotels, guest houses and restaurants, an international airport, a cultural centre, discos and nightclubs, a national museum and art gallery, as well as two golf courses and other sports facilities.
Three Chiefs Monument Crossing
Three Chiefs Monument Crossing the railway tracks over the flyover, and turning into a newly developed Central Business District, the Monument of the Three Chiefs is another impressive historical statue that marks an important turning point in the history of Botswana.
In the late 1800s, Botswana territory was under threat from British industrialist Cecil Rhodes, who wished to take over Bechuanaland for his British South Africa Company. Three senior chiefs of the time – Chief Khama III of the Bangwato, Chief Sebele I of the Bakwena, and Chief Bathoen I of the Bangwaketse – travelled to London in 1885 to petition Joseph Chamberlain, Secretary of State for the Colonies, and whilst there, they were presented to Queen Victoria.
Gaining support from the British public, they petitioned the Queen for protection; and this was granted. The Bechuanaland Protectorate was established in the same year, thus circumventing the territory’s potentially disastrous incorporation into the British South Africa Company, and forever altering the history of the country. The monument was sculpted and cast by North Korean artisans, using a photograph of the three chiefs.
It was unveiled on the occasion of the country’s 39th anniversary of independence in 2005.
The National Museum and Art Gallery
The National Museum and Art Gallery Established in June 1967 and officially opened in September, 1968 by the then Acting President of Botswana, Dr. Q.K.J. Masire, the National Museum has been a vibrant focal point of artistic and cultural activity since its inception. The mandate has always been to display and promote the country’s natural and cultural heritage, and to acquire artifacts relating to Africa south of the Sahara.
The adjoining National Art Gallery was opened in 1975 and it continually stages quality exhibitions of art, crafts and photography, of increasing diversity. Recently celebrating its 40th anniversary (2008), the National Museum and Art Gallery has gone from strength to strength in the collection of artifacts, research, exhibitions, national and international collaborations, and in its vigorous outreach programmes that bring the museum – and instruction in cultural heritage – to rural residents. This ‘Pitse ya Naga’ (‘Zebra on Wheels’) has now reached virtually every primary school in the country. Research is in such diverse fields as geology, ethnology, entomology, zoology, art, graphic and exhibition design, education and archaeology.
The Museum has registered and documented over 100 000 artifacts, 40 000 insect specimens and 20 000 slides; it houses priceless paintings and original historical photos. It has held over 300 local and international exhibitions and gazetted a number of national monuments. Colourful indoor and outdoor permanent displays chronicle the flora, fauna and cultures of Botswana. The National Museum and Art Gallery are frequented by thousands of schoolchildren every year, as well as residents of and visitors to the country.
Contact the Museum’s Information Centre, as well as the local media, for a listing of upcoming exhibitions and events.
Thapong Visual Arts Centre
Thapong Visual Arts Centre Situated in the former magistrate’s house (1902), the Thapong Visual Arts Centre is home to Botswana’s young, gifted – and sometimes avant-garde – artists.
In addition to the exhibitions it regularly stages, this very active centre also periodically offers art courses for children. Enquire at their offices for a schedule of upcoming activities, or check the local newspapers.
National Museum Botanical Gardens
Botanical Gardens The recently opened National Museum Botanical Gardens is a welcome addition to the city of Gaborone. It features walking trails (with labeled trees and plants), exhibits on the flora of Botswana, a library of botanical books, and historical buildings, including a colonial guest house.
This is a pleasant place for a family outing, also providing an educational perspective on the country’s flora.