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A view of a Ghanzi street
|• Land||1,670 km2 (645 sq mi)|
|Elevation||1,156 m (3,793 ft)|
Ghanzi is a town in the middle of the Kalahari Desert the western part of the Republic of Botswana in southern Africa. At the time of the 2011 census, there were 12,167 people living in the town with another 861 nearby. It is the administrative center of Ghanzi District and is known as the "Capital of the Kalahari". Ghanzi District measures 117,910 square kilometres (29,140,000 acres) and is bordered by Ngamiland to the north, Central District to the east, and Kgalagadi and Kweneg Districts to the south. Its western border is shared with Namibia.
Other spellings of Ghanzi include "Gantsi", which is more consistent with Setswana, the national language of Botswana; "Ghansi"; and "Ghantsi". It has also been purported that the various renderings of Ghanzi actually stem from the Naro language word "Gaentsii", meaning "swollen buttocks", referring tp the good health of antelope and, later, cattle that congregated around a pan in the area.
The first Afrikaner to settle in Ghanzi was Hendrik van Zyl, who set up a small hunting and trading enterprise in the area around 1870. However, the first substantial Boer migration into Ghanzi began around 1897-1898.
The place known today as Ghanzi was first called "Kamp". The Kalahari Arms Hotel and the Barclays bank in Ghanzi were some of the first businesses established in Ghanzi.
The town of Ghanzi was the subject of a 1988 LA Times article which described the close-knit relationship between resident Afrikaners and Bushmen. At the time, there was no radio or television in Ghanzi, and the Kalahari Arms Hotel, which was surrounded by a 9 foot high fence to keep lions out, hosted the only bar and discotheque in the area.
Ghanzi is a place of different ethnic groups such as Afrikaners, Basarwa, Bakgalagadi and Baherero, who all have a spirit of tolerance. Residents of this place speak different languages such as Afrikaans, English, Sesarwa, Sekgalagadi and Seherero, but their standard language is Shekgalagari. Though there is no available information as to the current numbers of the Afrikaner population, in 1973, Kalahari Boer made up about 10% of the population in Ghanzi.
Geology and climate
The district's land surface mainly consists of gently undulating sandveld which lies between 1,100 and 1,230 meters above sea level. The Kalahari is the largest continuous stretch of sand in the world, covering some 2,500 km2. Karoo sediments, covered by younger basaltic lavas, underlie most of the Kalahari sands and about half of the country of Botswana. The sands of the Kalahari vary in depth from 5m to 200m.
The climate is semi-arid. Mean maximum daily temperatures are 33-45°C in January and around 22°C in July; mean minimum temperatures are 4 to -5°C in the winter months. The long-term mean annual rainfall is around 375mm although this can vary by up to 50% year by year. Generally speaking, both the climate and the soils are unfavorable for arable farming. Small cultivation is spread over the district but is limited to subsistence crops of maize, sorghum, beans, peas, and melons.
Ghanzi has only one bank, Barclays Bank, which is a sub branch, and also has an ATM. The First National Bank has plans to open another sub branch in the town, but when it will open is still unknown. Ghanzi now has three shopping centres, Ghanzi Spar, Score and the recently opened Choppies, another great retailer in Botswana.
Ghanzi Airport serves the town. There is currently no scheduled service, only charter and private operations.
Tourism and events
An annual farm show in August attracts many people from all over southern Africa. The people in Ghanzi come together and celebrate. Actions are also held at the premises and BDF (Botswana Defense Force) usually comes to show their weaponry.
Ghanzi is a stop over point for travelers wishing to visit the Okavango Delta; there are many lodges in the area and one filling station, Shell. It is the only available fill-up point between Kang and Maun, which is a span of about 500 km, if one are travelling to the Okavango Delta. The major places where a tourist can stay are Ghanzi Trailblazers, Kalahari Arms Hotel, Khawa Lodge, Thakadu Camp and TauTona Lodge.
There are lots of interesting things to see in Ghanzi, as it is a Bushmen town. Kuru has a small shop there, with various handcrafted Bushmen items. There are a few sightseeing spots in Ghanzi - lions, cheetahs and wild dogs can be seen in big spots made available to them at the main gate of TauTona. "Ghanzi gat" is a hole that was made while the tar road was being made in Ghanzi, but while using dynamite to break the rock open, the people accidentally opened a water vein. This filled the 40m deep hole with water.
- 1989: Telephone service installed in Ghanzi using solar powered towers
- 1990: Education center opened for teacher and government workers ongoing education
- 1993: First private school (Pioneer Academy) opened
- 1995: Senior secondary school opened in Ghanzi
- 1995: (November) Cosmos opened a branch in Ghanzi
- 1999: Paved road completed linking Ghanzi with Gaborone, the national capital
- 2000: Major flooding of Ghanzi and surrounding areas
- 2001: True Love Waits, an interdenominational abstinence education and support program, launched
- 2006: Broadband services are tested and introduced by GFS (Ghanzi Farmer Supplies) in conjunction with Winagain Holdings
- 2008: New shopping complex opened in February 2008 with superstores like Choppies, COSMOS, JB Sport and Pep
- 2010: (March) GFS sold interests in ISP business
- 2010: (April) Winagain Holdings gained licence to provide broadband services in Ghanzi, opening a hotspot at Kalahari Arms Hotel
- 2014: New mall scheduled for completion
- 2014: Winagain Holdings increased bandwidth with Ghanzi's first private fiber connection
- "80 GHANZI". Republic of Botswana Central Statistics office.
- Myre, Greg. "Afrikaners Amid the Bushmen of the Kalahari: Botswana Outpost Bends Black, White." LA Times [Los Angeles] 10 Jan. 1988: n. pag. Print.
- Russell, Margo and Martin Russell. "Ghanzi Afrikaners 1973: a domestic description", Afrikaners of the Kalahari. 1st ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979. 40-57. Cambridge Books Online. Web. 13 April 2016.
- African Business, March 2010, p67