Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes . . .
has been an African economic success story. After achieving
independence from Britain in 1966, three of the world’s
richest diamond mines were discovered there, and tourism
is a growing sector due to the country’s conservation
practices and extensive nature preserves. The Republic of
Botswana is in the southern part of the continent of Africa,
a land slightly smaller than Texas. Landlocked, Botswana
shares borders with Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
The terrain is predominantly flat to gently rolling tableland.
The famous Kalahari Desert occupies the southwest. In addition
to diamonds, other natural resources include copper, nickel,
salt, soda ash, potash, coal, iron ore and silver. Two major
investment services rank Botswana as the best credit risk
in Africa, but officially unemployment is 21 percent (unofficially
40 percent). So, there are contrasts in Botswana.
original inhabitants of this land were the San Bushmen of the
then called Bechuanaland. The San were replaced in the
19th century by the Iswana
tribe, who maintained their independence against invasions by Zulu and Ndebele
warriors. By the mid-19th century, Boers of the Transvaal sought to annex portions
of Bechuanaland for its gold deposits. Bechuana sought British protection and
by 1885 had become a British protectorate. On Sept. 30, 1966, the country was
given complete independence as the country now called Botswana.
Stipanich, a computer software consultant from Laguna Beach,
took soil samples from the Chef’s Island in the Okavango Delta, the largest
inland delta in the world. A delta is an alluvial plain at the mouth of a river,
crossed by many water channels. Deltas are generally formed of fertile mud
dumped by a slow-flowing river. Often the river divides into two or more streams
thread their way through the delta, producing a tree-shaped pattern when seen
from the air.
The Okavango Delta
Okavango is pretty much 50% covered with water. You drive in
four-wheel vehicles that can go through the water (for the
most part 3 to 4 feet
deep). Animal life
abounds with lions, leopards and cheetah to hippos and incredible water
* * *
“ Twinkle, twinkle little star.
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high.
Like a diamond in the sky . . .”
what is a diamond? The American Heritage College Dictionary
n. 1. An extremely hard crystalline form of carbon that is
usually colorless and is used as a gemstone
and in abrasives, cutting tools, and other applications. 2.
A figure with four equal sides forming two inner obtuse angles
and two inner acute angles; a rhombus or lozenge. 3. Games.
A red lozenge-shaped figure on certain playing cards. b.) A
playing card with this figure. c.) Diamonds (used with a sing.
v.) - the suit of cards represented by this figure. 4. Baseball:
a.) An infield. b.) The whole playing field. So, diamonds are
gems, machine parts, figures on cards, and represent the shape
of a baseball playing field.”
Once Botswana was an abrasive crystal in the machinery of the
Many people in Botswana gamble in the card game of “Life
with HIV/AIDS.” It is estimated that 37 percent of adults
suffer from this 20th century plague.
Botswana plays “The Game of Life” on a diamond.
Diamonds, man’s most valuable gem, grow under the soil
of Botswana, but always remember that in addition there is light
shining from above. Botswana literally does have “diamonds
on the soles of her shoes,” as Paul Simon once sang,
and Common Ground 191 applauds as Botswana walks proudly forth
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