Settlement History, Names, Bio-Cultural Diversity: the Kwando /Okavango region

The Okavango Delta/ Kavango is well documented for its wide range of resources including abundant wildlife species and veldt products. Over hundreds of years the Okavango environment shaped settlement in the area and the wetland sets a sharp contrast to the generally arid lands of the rest of the country, which are dominated by the Kalahari sands. Using information from informal interviews and a review of literature this paper discusses the relationship between settlement patterns, cultural diversity, naming of localities and the resources available in the Kwando/ Okavango Delta. The Kavango-Zambezi transfrontier area has always been characterized historically as multi-ethnic and linguistic entities. While scholarship on this area is largely biodiversity and natural resource management. It is also important to understand aspects of settlement history and that the resources of this region with a cross-border element region had been central to the people’s way of life. Amongst the people of the Kwando/Okavango delta are the riverine local communities are the Bayei (Wayei), Hambukushu, Dxeriku, and the ethnic San communities of Ju/oasi, Bugakhwe and //Anakhwe with cultural heritage that transcend the transfrontier region. Some of these groups share socio-cultural heritage, but to a large extent San community have retained a sense of cohesion, despite extensive intermarriages with their neighbours. The paper will explore the representation of borders and boundaries within traditional culture and livelihoods. The relationship between the people of the Okavango and their livelihood strategies have become all important in recent years because they have gradually asserted their claims over the area that has grown into a tourism hub of Botswana. Local communities’ memories about settlement form a major part of this paper because they have become part of debate about their past, and their claims of tenure in the 21st century.