On The Run

Running Rules For Villages In Botswana

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After our lovely running exploration of Oodi, we were keen to venture further afield. Thamaga seemed a good choice, given its proximity to Gaborone and its interesting landscape. It is the third largest village (in both size and population) in Kweneng District and is located about 40km west of Gaborone. As I was reading about the place, I learned that a significant amount of archaeological research has taken place in and around Thamaga by various institutions including the University of Botswana and the University of California, Berkeley.

Not knowing the village very well, we chose quite a straightforward (triangular) route using the main roads surrounding the village. We parked our car at the famous Thamaga Pottery.

Thamaga Pottery was opened around 1970 when a young Catholic Priest Father Julian was transferred from Francistown to Thamaga. Finding that many women did not have a means of income and that there was a source of clay in the area, he established Thamaga Pottery where over the last 50 years, women have created beautiful pottery (cups, plates, mugs, bowls) with a very distinct pattern and style. Several pieces of pottery have found homes, not just in Botswana, but in all corners of the world. For a small fee, it is also possible to tour the factory and try your own hand at the potter’s wheel which we did on a separate visit with the family.

From Thamaga Pottery, we got onto the B111 Loop Road and then made our way to the A10 Road (Gaborone – Kanye Road) and back onto the B111 Loop. Towards the end of our run the B111 Loop (and eventually the Mosielele Road) took us alongside the majestic rocky outcrops.

We asked a passer-by about the graveside next to the rocks, and he said that was where the Dikgosi (Chiefs) were buried. Mosielele Road took us to a T-Junction where we turned left and back to Thamaga Pottery. We were a bit short of the 16km we had wanted to run so we turned onto Botlhoko Road, to the T-Junction where there was a small school and back again.

Six Things To Consider Running Through A Village

Hello Goes A Long Way. Greeting is an important part of Botswana’s culture – whether you are getting into a bus, entering a waiting room, or passing someone in a corridor, you greet. When I was studying overseas, I greeted everyone until I realised this wasn’t the custom. Only the elderly seemed to appreciate my greetings! When I got back, my mum almost took a swipe at me when she realised I wasn’t greeting people. There is a lot you can get away with in the bigger towns, but in most villages, this is still important. So if you’re running past someone, greet.

Don’t Seek Help In Haste. Running in a village can get tricky and often needs you to stop and ask for directions. Don’t be hasty when doing so. Your dilemma is not anyone else’s problem! So stop thinking about your pace and time and where you need to get to. Slow down, come to a stop, greet politely, ask how the person is and then respectfully request permission to ask your question. Once that is done, fire away! That way, you will (quickly) be on your way.

Be Mindful Of The Livestock. You’ll encounter lots of goats, sheep, chickens and even cattle. These are normally used to people walking past but not to someone in bright gear speeding towards them. This can easily startle them onto oncoming traffic. So as you run, give them space and be mindful of creating a hazardous situation. This is their home, you are just visiting!

Don’t Mind The Stares. We ran past a household where an old lady was sitting outside, sipping her tea and catching the morning sun. She had obviously caught a glimpse of us from a distance and as we approached she kept her gaze on us, and then turned her head and her whole body towards us! My experience running through various villages is that this is the norm. Initially, it would get to me, until the reality dawned on me – it’s early morning, I’m dressed head to toe in bright running gear with a hydration pack. It’s therefore not hard to imagine that some people are thinking: Where does this person come from? Where is she going? And most importantly, does she need our help?! One man on my run in Otse was actually brave enough to ask this!

Ask For Permission When Taking Photos: This is important. Most of the photos I take are of buildings and don’t require permission. But when there are people in the photo, you must always ask for permission. It’s just rude not to. Towards the end of our run in Thamaga, I caught sight of a donkey cart. It’s always been a fantasy of mine to run alongside a donkey cart! So we ran up to the two drivers and asked for permission for me to run past as my husband took a photo. They were very happy to oblige and even stopped the donkey cart for me. But I think they definitely (and rightfully) would have taken great offense had we not asked.

Buy Local. Instead of driving back home immediately, take a look at what the village has to offer. In the case of Thamaga, Thamaga Pottery is a must. But you can also visit a local restaurant or simply buy a drink or snacks from a semausu (street kiosk). I enjoyed some hand-cut ma-fresh (chips) with perfectly sprinkled salt and Ditiro some magwinya (fat cakes).

Hope you enjoyed this running tour of Thamaga as well as what to be mindful of when running in a village in Botswana. If you’re from Botswana, have I missed any rules? If you’re from somewhere else, would any of the rules apply to your villages or small towns? Do you own Thamaga Pottery? Which village should I do next?

#Annoucement: I’m so excited to be a Pineapple Clothing (USA) Ambassador and on my run through Thamaga I wore these vintage/boho leggings! If you’re looking to jazz up your closet, use this affiliate link and get 20% off with my Coupon Code: SHACOY.

Excited to be linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With AttitudeRun Laugh Eat PieRuns with Pugs, and Zenaida for FIT FIVE FRIDAY (with a BONUS point)! 

24 thoughts on “Running Rules For Villages In Botswana

  1. I just googled Thamaga pottery and now I want some! Beautifully handcrafted.
    Your tour through Thamaga looks so interesting – thank you for taking us through it, Shathiso!

    We sometimes have to cross fields with cows. When there are young ones around, the mother cows can get quite aggressive, so I always give them extra space and I don’t run past them.
    And when running in a village in Switzerland, you greet everybody, too!
    I like your point about asking for permission for photos. I always do that (except at races) and people are always happy to oblige. It’s a nice opportunity to have a quick chat, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have a huge set from when we married in 2008 and my parents and in-laws both have sets from the 1970s! I love that you greet people in villages in Switzerland too! It adds such a human touch!

      Yes, races are an exception! I must have appeared in several strangers’ photos too, there are so many cameras around! LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Who knows if I will ever find myself in Botswana, so I love to get a glimpse of your country this way. It is fun to discover and small local businesses and support them when we can. Where are you off to next?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great “tour” and important tips. It all comes down to respect and kindness, doesn’t it? I love the tip to buy a drink or snack – or more locally.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think these are wonderful rules for running anywhere (although I don’t encounter much livestock where I live, ha ha.). Beautiful photos! I would love to run through a village like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fascinating, Shathiso! When I lived in TX, in the South, it was much more common to greet strangers when out & about (although a little different from Botswana, still, I imagine). Up here in the North, where I grew up, most people are more reserved — but not all.

    I love buying local when I’m visiting somewhere, and pottery is one of my passions!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a fun tour, and great mention of all the assumed rules. Most of those rules, I’d think should apply everywhere…but, unfortunately, our society is in a constant hurried state and common courtesies get overlooked on occasion. I’m so intrigued with the Thamaga Pottery!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yum!! Kind of like beignets from my home town (New Orleans) except that those are covered in powdered sugar 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. This is really interesting! I’d say that all these rules are applicable where I live (OK, there are not so many cows in my suburb but we have done races with livestock around). I always try to greet people when I’m running as it’s just polite, and I’ve had some lovely interactions. More here than in London, though!!


  8. Yum! A lovely tour through the village, and yes, just being friendly and pleasant goes a long way, not only in running, but in life too!

    Liked by 1 person

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