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faces of botswana - the story behind the scenes

Everything started with some posts on Facebook, with a story around the photograph, as usual.

 

Soon I realized that this is more than only one photograph, it is a series - "faces of botswana". Each and every photograph tell`s a different story and I wrote my story about every photograph and posted it on Facebook. But it makes much more sense to combine the series "face of botswana" and the stories behind the scenes in one simple blogpost and that is the result... Enjoy it!

faces of botswana | raja | botswana 2017

faces of botswana
faces of botswana

 

Before I left for Botswana this year I wasn`t expecting to shoot many portraits. Of course I wanted to photograph the San people in their natural environment, but I wasn’t really thinking in portraits. As good fortune would have it I shot quite some portraits of the San, other Bushman and residents of Botswana. Therefore I decided to come up with an own category “faces of Botswana”. Moreover in the next weeks I will hopefully finish my blog about the San. People who impressed me deeply in more than a single way. May be the reason why I started to photograph people and shoot portrait`s as my normal genres are quite different. I am very grateful for theses special moments. By the way, this is Raja our guide in the Khwai concession in the Moremi Game Reserve. Raja is a local River-Bushman and grew up in the Khwai region. He knows this huge area like his own back yard. We spent three awesome days with Raja, maybe the most funny and positive guide I ever met Africa, I enjoyed Raja`s company very much. All the more I am very happy that he managed to get some land in the Khwai concession and will start a small campsite quite soon. All the best for you Raja, see you next time on your own plot!


faces of botswana | children | botswana 2017

faces of botswana
faces of botswana

We were driving at the edge of the Boteti river coming from Xhumaga in the south east where we were staying for a couple of nights at Tiaan`s camp to explore the beautiful Makgadikgadi National Park. Somewhere on the road to the village Motopi we met these group of brothers and sisters. We stopped on the sand pad to increase our air pressure with our compressor as the traded road was directly in front of us. Therefore I got out of our Landcruiser grabbed my hat, opened the engine bonnet, connected the battery with the compressor and started with the first tire, when I realized a group of children watching me from their small yard hiding in the shade in front of their small house. Fortunately I still had my sweets Maoam, which I bought for right that moment and I gave it to the children, who were a bit shy but gave me a bright open smile. These are the moments why I like to drive on my own through Africa. You will never really get in touch with the people and understand them, if you don`t drive on your own. These little moments are at least as important for me as the wildlife…


faces of botswana | father | botswana 2017

faces of botswana
faces of botswana

Traveling on your own in Botswana is all about meeting different people, different tourists in their 4x4`s from all over the world and of course meeting local people. Even in Botswana as one of the rather rich developing countries there are still living many poor people and many poor children, some of them are still struggling to survive. I even couldn`t believe the fact that people are still at the brick of starvation but many people we met asked us instantly for food and water, this is their most urgent need.

For us it is normal to live in a save country without war, hunger, deseases and natural disasters and still these people are so warm, open minded and full of love and altruism. My wish for 2018 is that we remind us even more how fortunate we are and be more kind to each other.


faces of botswana | lake ngami | botswana 2017

faces of botswana
faces of botswana

Lake Ngami is a non-existing place on the tarred road A3 south from Maun in Botswana. It takes you about an hour drive to Toteng and turn right on a sand Pad into the middle of nowhere. Your Navi conks out as it doesn`t know this place only a couple of kilometers beside the main road to Ghanzi and to Windhoek in Namibia. The lake Ngami is normally dry and no water can be found the area is dry like a desert. But since the good rain in 2016 there is or at least was water again in the lake, that is what we heard and we turned right at Toteng to find the lake. Somebody told us about a street directly crossing the lake, which cannot be used anymore and enters directly into the water surrounded by many dead trees looking out of the water as sticks.

It took us quite a while to find this hidden place, we crossed some very small villages and saw a couple of Kalahari Ferrari with donkey`s, stopped, spoke to a lot of people, gave them whatever they needed. Everybody had a bright smile on the face and everybody was curious to talk to us as normally no tourist gets lost at Lake Ngami.

Maps are useless as the small roads are not drawn, orientation is only possible by compass directions. After quite a while we found the lake and the street but there was no water and we started to drive into the lake. If there is no water we can at least cross the lake and drive directly on the tarred road to Ghanzi.

The dead trees next to the Pad reminded me of the Dead Vlei in Namibia, everything was dead and suddenly the horizon started to become green, green Gras – we reached the water, nearly in the middle of the lake and hundreds of cattle around us. From different directions locals were coming on horses or donkeys rounding up the cattle. Many of them were very shy and avoided us but again some of them were curious to know what these tourists want here.

We found the water, not as much as expected, but still water. A whole year without rain had passed and still there was water in the lake. If Botswana has good rain the whole landscape changes into fertile areas like the Okavango Delta. We enjoyed our little adventure, the donkeys and mostly the friendly people. Check it out on your own if you are traveling between Maun and Ghanzi, it is only a couple of kilometers and takes you not more than 1.5 hours…


faces of botswana | vota a san chief | botswana 2017

faces of botswana
faces of botswana

 

Vota is a proud San chief of one of the view remaining San villages in the Central Kalahari. He was our Tracker at the Tao Pan Lodge. Vota is a very prideful handsome energetic man, always in a good mood and keen to see what nature offers him today. I enjoyed his company very much, not only during our game drives in the Central Kalahari, also on our bush walk following a path to a traditional San hut where the day before lions crossed the Lodge. I shared a traditional root with Vota, the San Bushmen water bottle. The root is pulverized and the pulver is squeezed in your hand until the water runs out. It is amazing which technics the San developed to survive in the hostile environment of the Kalahari Desert.


faces of botswana | lake ngami | botswana 2017

faces of botswana
faces of botswana

We met this man and his two donkey`s pulling his Kalahari Ferrari close to the lake Ngami - a non-existing place parallel to the tarred road A3 southwest from Maun to Ghanzi in Botswana.  We stopped our car because we had some stuff in the back of our Landcruiser which we brought from Germany.

People in Botswana are very proud and shy as well as this man. At least he stopped his cart, but he definitely was not comfortable in his own skin. Probably not many tourists are around at Lake Ngami and even less stop their car and start to talk with him. He was becoming even more uncomfortable when I offered him some of my stuff – as I said, people from Botswana are proud and don`t accept any charity. Only after I explained to him that we are on our way home to Germany and don`t have enough luggage to take all the things with us he changed his mind carefully. You should have seen his smile when he saw the jeans, shirts and Chucks. You have to make yourself aware of the fact that people in Botswana are still very poor in the rural areas in Botswana. Moreover it is hard to find any shop`s in the middle of nowhere to buy clothes and even then they would be way to expensive. Additionally shoes and Jeans are even better than money to trade.

The moment I asked if it is O.K. to take a photograph the proud man felt ashamed again - you can see it in his eyes, but out of politeness he still smiled. I really love Botswana and the inhabitants so friendly open minded friendly and proud. 50 years of Botswana united and proud…


faces of botswana | san | botswana 2017

faces of botswana
faces of botswana

The situation of the San in Botswana is difficult, but not hopeless. We met this San man in a quite big San village called Dekar in Botswana. He is the Head of the family who moved from the Central Kalahari Nationalpark and the typical wild kind of live to the village. Now they are living on a plot with two very small houses they have built. The man wears typical San clothes the rest of the family shirts and jogging trousers. The state of Botswana paid for a water tank on his plot, unfortunately only one of three drill holes in the village are working. Moreover the state paid for a vegetable patch fully covered by bird nets. But without water there are no vegetables. Most family members are just hanging out, there is not much to do without. Many of the school age children are also hanging around on the plot. The children of his brother who lives close to the wild of the Central Kalahari a hundred kilometers away and still lives a live close to the traditional wild live sent his children to the village to go to school. There is much room for improvement for the San and the state of Botswana as well.

But one look in the eyes of this man tells more than a thousand words. The San are very proud, strong and people with a positive attitude to life – characteristics I most sadly miss in Germany. They have nearly nothing – we have everything. Why are we not the most happy people on earth…?


faces of botswana | san man | botswana 2017

faces of botswana
faces of botswana

I don`t even know the name of this San, but this doesn`t mean that he has not deeply touched me, even more – I learned a lot from him. Let`s start from the beginning. This man works and lives at the Dinaka Lodge located outside the Central Kalahari in the north.

The San was sitting right next to me in the back of our safari vehicle. We were on our way for a bush and traditional San walk. In front on the bonnet of the Landcruiser sat our Tracker another San, both small, skinny but strong, silent and extremely shy. The man didn`t look at me once during the whole drive. We had a flat tire, they fixed it in 10 minutes, San are used to solve problems very fast – you have to be fast and successful in the bush, otherwise you are dead.

After we reached our final walking destination the two of them changed into traditional clothes.

Our guide loaded his rifle and was the last in line, the San lead the group – two walking sticks in their hands to defend all of us. San raised in the bush are incredible. They are deeply connected to nature, they see, hear and smell everything – things other human beings would never recognize and that is the reason why they can survive here and I would be dead in less than a day.

It took me nearly an hour until this San relaxed so that I could shoot this picture. I only had my 300 mm lense with me, I thought we would go on safari. The big thing was so uncomfortable for him. San are extremely brave, honest, fearless, responsible and sensitive with a deep happiness inside their souls which seemed to be connected with their traditional way of living for me; and this is their Achilles heel as their traditional way of living is dying or already has died. Look into his eyes, he is everything I always wanted to be…

 


Planst Du eine Reise in das südliche Afrika - nach Namibia, Botswana, Südafrika oder Simbabwe, dann findest Du hier meine Reiserouten, vielleicht ist ja auch die richtige Route für Dich dabei...



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