History of Gaborone
Published on 23rd May 2006
Gaborone is the capital city of Botswana and is located at 24°40′S 25°55′E. The vibrant and colourful city lies in the flat valley between Kgale and Oodi hills, on the Notwane River in the south eastern corner of Botswana, 15Kms from the South African border post at Tlokweng on main transport routes. The weather in Gaborone is usually warm during the winter months and hot during the summer months. The area is known for its diamonds.
Gaborone is named after Chief Gaborone, who led his tribe to this area from the Magaliesberg around 1880. The name was originally Gaberones, from Gaborone's Village, following the early practice of referring to African tribal capitals by the name of the chief, in this case Chief Kgosi Gaborone of the BaTlokwa, whose village, now called Tlokweng, was just across a river from the "Government Camp" (colonial government headquarters). Ten years later Cecil John Rhodes chose this little settlement as the site of a colonial fort. Still little more than an administrative village when Botswana began to move towards independence in the early sixties, it was chosen as the site for the new capital due to its strategic location, availability of reliable water supply and proximity to the cross-continental railway line.
Before 1969, the city was known as Gaberones. Gaberones replaced Mafeking as the capital of the Bechuanaland Protectorate in 1965. Mafeking (now Mafikeng) was outside the Bechuanaland Protectorate, in what is now the North West Province of South Africa, an odd arrangement that dated from the early colonial period. When the Protectorate became independent, Botswana needed a capital city within its territory. Lobatse was deemed as able to serve as capital but it was too limited giving way to Gaborone.
In three short years, the new capital emerged from the African bush. By the time it was completed, it boasted Assembly buildings, Government office blocks, a power station, a hospital, schools, a radio station, a telephone exchange, police stations, a post office, banks, shops, a church, a hotel, a brewery, a stadium grandstand and more than 1,000 houses. The basic infrastructure was in place for Independence Day on 30 September 1966, when Bechuanaland became the eleventh British dependency in Africa to become independent. The old Gaberones became a suburb of the new Gaborone, and is now known as "the Village". Today Gaborone is a bustling modern city.
The word "Gabs" is the most commonly used abbreviation for Gaborone and is sometimes used in casual speech.
Gaborone is today a vibrant cosmopolitan capital. Although it is small in size, it is a melting pot of diverse cultures and practices. Gaborone has all the facilities of any modern capital city. There are numerous busy shopping malls offering full range of imported and locally produced goods, excellent restaurants, top international quality hotels and sports clubs among others. New buildings and suburbs sprout like mushrooms wherever there's a block of land to fit them, resulting in a mix of low-cost housing, blocks of flats, shopping centres and industrial complexes. There is an international airport on the outskirts of the city that provides access to the country. The Gaborone Dam, that is the water source for Gaborone, is in a sense the foundation of Gaborone itself. It is located by the edge of the city, set among hills and dense bush, is the city's main water source. The University of Botswana, the nation's largest tertiary education facility, is a rapidly growing institution with its main campus located in central Gaborone.