Surviving the Tsodilo way

Tourism changing community’s lives

With a concerted effort, tourism can uplift communities and bring about positive change to the country’s economy.

This is the belief of Tsodilo Community Trust Manager, NxisaeKiema, who says tourism has improved her community’s quality of life.

“We are very much well off as compared to many communities in our region. We are not so poor, we live decent lives.”

Kiema explained that the Tsodilo hills, a recognised world heritage site famous for its ancient rock paintings, brings in ‘foreign currencies’ and has helped create jobs and businesses for local communities in recent years.

“We are not where we want to be yet, but we are getting there. The United Nations Development Programme has really helped us and guided us on how best to benefit from our natural resources,” she said, adding locals work inside the heritage site, mostly as guides, and generally earn good money and tips from tourists.

“Some make jewellery from local plants and seeds and sell at a reasonable price. Some run private campsites within the site,” Kiema added.

One such entrepreneur is Tsodilo elder, Xlenna.

Surviving the Tsodilo way

“I sell the beads to tourists and I use the proceeds to buy food, sugar and clothes for myself. Because of my profits, I now get to put on shoes of my choice,” she revealed, smiling happily to reveal uneven teeth set within wrinkled, weather beaten features.

The old woman prides herself on her expertly crafted,stunningly beautiful traditional jewellery.

It has taken her away from her nomadic life of hunting for game and gathering wild roots and berries for subsistence.

“My quality of life has improved a lot. I no longer have to risk my life walking in the wildlife infested area trying to get food. I can afford to pay for transport to go to nearby big villages like Shakawe and Maun to buy what I need.”

Speaking from a different generation’s perspective, KetlaabarengMothaba is equally upbeat.

“As a young person, I cannot be seen to be fighting for poverty alleviation programmes such as Ipeleng when I am capable of producing beautiful art works that earn me good money,” noted the teenager.

“I am home-schooled. My mother taught me to make neckpieces and earrings from a very young age. I used to sell to community members and they liked them. I have now started selling to tourists and they appreciate my work,” concluded Mothaba, grinning brightly as she speaks.