The Okavango Delta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a watershed encompassing three different countries. Beginning with the vast Angolan catchment from the Bié Plateau all the way down the Cuito and Cubango sub-catchments, Angolan rainwater flows through the Okavango River as it passes through southern Angola and Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, then into Ngamiland, the region in northern Botswana containing the Delta.
According to research conducted by the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project (NGOWP), there are growing threats to the delta’s source waters, including the extraction of natural resources and new development projects throughout the basin that have been spurred mostly by population growth along the rivers. Annual burns by local communities returning to the catchment are already causing desertification along the forest edges adjacent to riparian areas. In addition, slash-and-burn farming and increasing charcoal production along vehicle tracks are opening more forest gaps.
Animals are also at risk. The use of non-traditional fishing methods such as gill nets is decimating fish populations, the bushmeat trade is diminishing wildlife populations, and unregulated logging is destroying large tracts of Miombo forest and woodland that is home to many species. As seen during the NGOWP’s regular visits to Angola over the last two years, these threats continue to grow. If these threats are unregulated and unmitigated in the long term, they may result in irreversible environmental breakdown and the consequent loss of their benefits to the Okavango watershed and the world.
In the month of July, we settled in Gaborone, Botswana to begin work on a truly special project. Joining forces with 4 string guitar revolutionary and songwriter Tomeletso Sereetsi, and soaring vocalist Gaone Ranthloiwa, on eco-song focused on transboundary watershed conservation in the Okavango Delta. With Botswana sharing the Okavango river with Angola and Namibia, it is at the receiving end of anything upstream, and the song addresses the implications that differing conservation laws and mentalities might have on its preservation.
To further solidify the important convergence of arts and sciences to help conserve the natural wonders left on this planet, we partnered with the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project, who have been doing extensive research along the watershed for many years. With the first two weeks of initial composition and tracking done in Gaborone, it was time we traveled to the Delta with Tom and Gaone to finish the process, and shoot for 3 days in the bush to truly capture the essence and biodiversity of this wonder of the world.
While in Maun for our final week, we were blessed enough to include the infectious energy and talent of local legend Stiger Sola, a pioneer of the 4 string guitar who paved the way for many artists such as Tom. With such a wide generational breadth of talent, we are proud to present the music video for Mmaballeng Montlenyane!
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