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