In many ways, the sprawling village/ town of Serowe is an important custodian of Botswana’s contemporary history.
During the days of the Bechuanaland protectorate (1885 onwards), it was a point of settlement for European missionaries and traders. Two giant leadwood trees – still standing near the dirt trail once used by early travellers – were road markers.
Serowe was a place of refuge for the Ngwato nation, who migrated from Old Palapye in 1902 to the green and fertile region that was surrounded – and thus protected – by hills. It grew to such a size that for years it was called the largest village in sub-Saharan Africa.
Today you can visit the London Missionary Society (LMS) church, its tall steeple still an important landmark for the town, as it was for missionaries, prospectors and explorers who came from far and wide. The massive church was reconstructed with the original stones it had first been built with in Old Palapye.
Serowe is the birthplace of the country’s founding father – and first president – Sir Seretse Khama. And much of the drama of his controversial marriage to an Englishwoman, Ruth Williams, was played out in this village. Today their graves are situated near the Ngwato totem, the duiker (phuti in Setswana) in the royal cemetery. (You must obtain permission to visit these sites).
At the kgotla – the traditional meeting place and customary court, situated below Serowe Hill, there stands an impressive statue of Sir Seretse Khama, erected to mark the tenth anniversary of his death.
The Khama III Memorial Museum – named after Seretse’s father, who died when Seretse was young – is housed in a red Victorian building, recently restored, and containing a fascinating collection of furniture, uniforms, correspondence and photographs that chronicle the legacy of the Khama family, and the history of Serowe.
For arts and crafts lovers, there are shopping opportunities at the Boithselo project where the Bakgalagadi and San peoples manufacture attractive and unique products.