South African Baobab expert and founder of the Baobab Foundation, Dr Sarah Venter has recently been acknowledged by the BOTSWANA POST PHILATELIC BUREAU for writing the information-sheets of Botswana’s latest series of stamps in collaboration with Botswana’s Department of National Museums and Monuments. The date of issue of the series of four stamps was 8 December 2022.
The Philatelic Bureau reflect a balance of the country’s interests with a preference for themes and events that bear relevance to Botswana’s historical development and its economic and social activities on stamps.
Botswana’s Iconic baobabs commemorated
The African Baobab tree has flowers that are adapted for pollination by fruit bats. Although bat pollination of baobabs has been documented in East and West Africa, it has not been confirmed in Southern Africa where it has been suggested that hawk moths may also be involved in baobab pollination.
This stamp issue commemorates four iconic baobabs in Botswana and pays homage to the Mighty Fallen Chapman’s Baobab. There are several historic inscriptions on the Baobabs in Botswana, which indicate that these trees were also important landmarks in the past. These trees have been declared national monuments. They are protected by the Monuments and Relics Act and damage to any of them can result in a penalty before a court of law.
The artists of this edition were Philip Huebsch and Monkgogi Samsonis, both citizens of Botswana. Huebsch is a Special Needs Educator and part-time wildlife and landscape artist. His paintings and pencil sketches have been used for a number of Commemorative and Definitive stamp issues: 1987 Mammals of Botswana, 2007 Butterflies of Botswana and 2018 Kgalagadi Biodiversity. Commemoratives were Elephants in Botswana, Energy Conservation, Vultures in Botswana and Places of Interest. He is a Co-founder member of two NGO’s in Botswana, Support 4 Learning and Raising the Ladder – Autism Network.
Monkgogi was born in Palapye. He has been working as a Visual and Brand Communications designer for over 11 years, designing for corporates, non-profits, academia, government and the private sector. This is Monkgogi’s sixth stamp issue.
Chapman’s Baobab was first documented and named after a historic explorer and traveller James Chapman who passed through the Ntwetwe pan sometime during the late 1870s. The historic tree sadly fell to the ground on 7th January 2016 due to the enormous weight of its 7 ‘sister’ trunks.
Green’s Baobab can be found at Gutsha Pan, south of Gweta village. In the days of early European explorers, a small pan beside this baobab was filled with perennial water, giving the great old tree special significance as a beacon of hope that signalled a spot to replenish supplies after a long trek through the saltpans. The intrepid Green brothers were one of the many early traders, hunters and explorers to carve their names here, leaving “Green’s Expedition 1858–1859” scrawled into the tree’s bark and giving the tree its name. Perhaps the most intriguing mark on this baobab though is the date 1771, which is even before Livingstone’s time and was possibly left by an early Portuguese explorer.
Kubu island baobabs
Kubu Island Baobabs are located at the Makgadikgadi Pan. The Baobabs have grown on dry white granite rock, some 10 metres high and roughly on a kilometre long ridge. They thrive in arid scrubland
due to their large trunks that store water. The fibrous bark of the baobab can be up to 15
centimetres thick and is used to make rope. The entire island is a National Monument, and is considered a sacred site by the indigenous people of the area. It is accessible by four- wheel drive vehicles and has basic camping facilities. The local community operates the campsite.
Baines’ monumental baobab trees are located in the Nxai Pan National Park. The Nxai Pan is a fossil lake-bed about 40 square km in size. It is an astonishing monument comprising a cluster of millennia-old baobab trees bound to the north-eastern edge of the extensive Kudiakam salt pan. They were made famous by a renowned British explorer and artist known as Thomas Baines who painted and published them in the 1860s.
Kasane prison & postal tree
Kasane prison and postal Baobab played a major role in the administration of justice, distribution of mail and labour recruitment in the northern part of Botswana. It was used as a confinement before the advent of modern prisons in the area. The tree also served as a place where mail was collected and disseminated to various places in the Chobe region and beyond. It was also used as recruitment station for South African mine labourers in the 1960s. The official vehicles that were used to transport prisoners were the same ones that would deliver mail. At the same time, young men who were to join the South African mines boarded the same vehicles. The Prison Baobab has some cavities which served as prison cells in historic times. There are some window-like openings which appear to have provided both light and ventilation into these prison cells.
Botswana Post stamp issuing policy
In Botswana a Definitive Set is released every 5 years, illustrating a theme of international interest. Commemorative sets are issued 4 or 5 times per year, illustrating themes that reveal the environment, cultural and historical heritage of Botswana.