Cart 0

Beyond Botswana Agates

Posted by Raul Walker on

Botswana Agates have long been a favorite of mine.    Rich deep reds and purples with great parallax banding.  Making for stunning cabochons (courtesy  

I recently purchased a few buckets of these beautiful agates.   While shooting pictures preparing to post some of the rough I was using a Susan B. Anthony dollar as a comparison for size.    It struck me that it looked like a penny in some of the shots.   This got me thinking about what kinds of coins Botswana had.   I searched on eBay and naturally I could order a set of Botswana coins from, yes you guessed it:  China.   They got here today. 

The Botswana “dollar” coin is called a Pula.  “Pula literally means "rain" in Setswana, because rain is very scarce in Botswana — home to much of the Kalahari Desert — and therefore valuable and a blessing.”1    It’s worth about a dime and has a Zebra on the front which are common in Botswana. 

Even more interesting was the 5 Pula coin it has a Mopane branch with a Mopane caterpillar which grows into an Emperor Moth.   Mopane is a scrub to tree size wood that is termite resistant.   It’s used for home building and fires.   The Mopane caterpillar is commonly used as a protein source eaten extensively in southern Africa.  People earn a living harvesting this caterpillar and exporting it to other countries in southern Africa.

I set out to find a cool coin to use while shooting pictures of beautiful banded Botswana agates and wound up learning a lot of interesting things that I’d never known.  The irony is I am looking for the stones on the ground in Botswana to find beauty and the Botswanans are looking for caterpillars for protein.    I worry about how our country can feed those that are hungry and I never once considered eating caterpillars.

  1. Masire, Ketumile(2006). Very brave or very foolish?. Macmillan Botswana. p. 81. ISBN 978-99912-404-8-0. Pula (rain) was an easy choice for the currency, and the decimal coins were called thebe (shield). (Memoirs of a former president of Botswana)

Share this post

← Older Post