Francistown

Francistown

Things to do - general

One of Botswana’s oldest towns, Francistown was the centre of southern Africa’s first gold rush. It came to prominence through European prospectors’ discovery and mining of gold in the region in the mid 19th century, first at Tatitown (about 50 kilometres from Francistown), and later at Francistown itself (at Monarch Mine, recently revived).

Gold had been mined by Africans living in the region for generations before. Indeed the wealth and prosperity which the region’s gold deposits have brought stretches as far back as the 12th to 14th centuries.

The city was named after the British prospector and miner Daniel Francis, who acquired prospecting licenses in 1869, eventually becoming director of the Tati Concessions Company. Francis and other prospectors often used ancient gold shafts as guiding points for their prospecting, or they simply carried on the mining which had been started in those shafts generations ago. The city is still surrounded by old, abandoned mines.

The original town was founded as a settlement near Monarch mine in 1897, consisting of only one main street lined with bustling saloons and supply stores running parallel to the railway line, which was established by British entrepreneur Cecil Rhodes as a vital link between South Africa and Britain’s northern colonies.

Situated 436 kilometres north of Gaborone, Francistown is the country’s second largest city, and an industrial and transport hub, with a railway line leading north to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. The main road northwest of Francistown gives passage to Maun and the Okavango Delta, Kasane and Chobe National Park, Livingstone, Zambia and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

Francistown is currently undergoing an economic boom, mostly due to the recent resuscitation of gold mining; this has given new life to the property and transport sectors, with the accompanying infrastructural additions and developments.

Over the years, Francistown (population approximately 115 000) has undergone continual expansion and modernisation, to the point that much of its original dusty frontier town atmosphere has disappeared. Modern malls, shops, hotels, restaurants, housing developments and industrial complexes now dominate the city, with some old, colonial buildings still to be seen in the city centre. Yet colourful, distinctively African local markets dot the city, and pleasant parks give it a user-friendly feeling. A lively nightclub scene showcases good local music and dance.

Country Botswana

Sports & nature

Sports: Based at the Francistown Club, the Francistown School of Tennis is a professional tennis centre dedicated to developing young children (starting at 4 years old) into international tennis players. Francistown also hosts several football clubs. These include TAFIC Sporting Club, TASC FC, ECCO City Greens FC, Great North Tigers F.C. (GNT) and others. All the above have played in the country's highest league, Botswana Premier League, sponsored currently by BeMobile. GNT was recently promoted to the Premier League while TAFIC play in the lower division. The new Francistown Stadium is still under construction and will be complete soon.[citation needed] The stadium will be the largest in the northern part of Botswana with a capacity of 27,000 and will be home ground to some of these teams. Other stadiums in the city include the Francistown City Council's Area S stadium. Nature: Francistown is home to the Supa Ngwao Museum, with exhibits related to the area's history and heritage. The museum, which receives most of its funds from the government, is currently going through refurbishment as of October 2011. A new nature reserve, Tachila, has been established 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from central Francistown on an old Tati Company Farm, Lady Mary. The nature reserve is expected to be a tourism turn-over for the already flourishing city which its variety of wild animals.Sports and nature image

Culture and history info

Although evidence of habitation by humans goes back around 10,000 years, written evidence is more recent. The Matabele people(Ndebele) colonised the area in the 1830s on their way to Bulawayo, bringing their culture and influence to the BaKalanga/Kalanga area of north-eastern Botswana. Reportedly, Nyangabgwe was the nearest village to Francistown to have been visited by Europeans, when it was visited by the missionary,Robert Moffat. Moffat was followed in 1867 by a gold prospector, Karl Mauch who found the Bakalanga mining gold along the Tati River. The present town was founded in 1897,by the Bakalanga as a settlement near the Monarch mine and named after Daniel Francis, an English prospector from Liverpool who acquired prospecting licenses in the region in 1869. Francis was a director of the Tati Land Concessions Land(Tati Concessions Company), who stole all the land in the settlement. The centre of the new town was formed when the company sold off 300 lots in August of that year. The Monarch mine was not the only mine in operation at that time, and it was widely believed that Francistown would grow rapidly. In the beginning, the town comprised one street east of, and parallel to the railway line. This street featured several companies, including two hotels,(the Grand and the Tatti), retail and wholesale shops and three banks. Behind these were the houses of the few white settlers. Today this very street, Tainton Avenue, still carries the influences of its white origins on its back. Prior to independence Francistown was Botswana’s largest commercial centre. In 1897, the company sold part of the land for residential and commercial purposes, and one may say that this marked the birth of Francistown. The city started as a gold mining town, and gold sustained the area’s economy from the late 1800s until the 1930s. When gold was discovered nearby in 1869 it sparked the first gold rush in Africa fifteen years before the gold boom at Witwatersrand in South Africa. The industry was hard hit by the global recession of the 1930s. Between 1936 and 1980s, the economy of Francistown was largely supported or dependent on the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association, a company that recruited labour for South African mines. The miners were recruited from many African countries, and transported to South Africa through Francistown by air or railway. Haskins Street (named after a prominent family in the town prior to independence) was the first tarred road in Botswana. Since 1966, the city has grown significantly due mainly to active cross-border trading with Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, in 1997, Francistown became a city, Botswana’s 2nd after Gaborone. With the city located astride Botswana’s main road and rail transport routes, mining, commerce and agriculture have been essential parts of its economy. Tati Nickel, The Dumela Industrial Complex and Botswana Meat Commission are the main economic drivers in the city. Government departments and other private entities also boost the wellbeing of the area’s residents. Visitors will have available a variety of places of worship, e.g., Christian churches, Muslim mosques, and African Traditional churches, such as the several branches of the Zionist Christian Church. Education around the city is also diverse. There are several private English-medium schools (Mophato School, KTM and John Mackenzie) and government schools such as Mater Spei (partly run by the Roman Catholic Church), Francistown Teacher Training College, University of Botswana Campus and several technical colleges. Transport is also reliable, with railway links to Harare and Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, road links with Ramokgwebana Boarder in the north, and Kazungula as well as Kasane, Maun via Nata. The airport has flights flying locally, to Gaborone, Maun, Kasane and other points around the country. Local transport (taxis) also operates through the night. .Culture and history image

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