Postcard from Botswana, stamps from Malaysia


Two years ago, a friend of mine relocated to Gaborone, capital of Botswana. Just in December last year, they left Botswana to be based in China. She bought with several dozens of postcards from Botswana and, during a stopover at Johannesburg and Kuala Lumpur Airports, she sent me several postcards. This explains the title. While also in Jo’burg, she gave me a surprised call and excitedly mentioned about this latest craze in herbal supplements displayed at the airport boutique; it’s made from a wonder plant found in somewhere in the deserts of Africa. Before I could ask her:  does hoodia really work? the line went dead. Oh well.

And these, my friends, are what I’m talking about:

Cheetah, Botswana 

Cheetahs are one of the main wildlife attractions in Botswana’s national parks. With a scientific name Acinonyx jubatus, cheetahs outside of protected areas in Botswana are shy, elusive, and difficult to see.  They can chase their prey for distances of up 400metres at a maximum speed of 7pkh making them the fastest land animal in the world.  Recent assessment reports published by several wildlife conservation groups in Botswana, however, reveal serious reductions in wildlife populations, including the cheetah. A deadly combination of overpopulation, destruction of wildlife’s natural habitat, illicit wildlife trade, and many other factors have contributed to the dwindling wildlife numbers.

Okay, now, on to the stamp:

Cheetah, Botswana with Malaysian stamps

Yes, you are looking at the right stamps; my friend used two 50sen definitive stamps featuring the white-rumped shama. It’s rich and melodious voice make it a popular breed for cage-birds enthusiasts in South Asia and Southeast Asia. It’s been said that the white-sumped shama can mimic the sounds of other birds.

Snik Suid-Afrika!

Baie dankie vir die poskaarte! Thank you for the postcards!

I was so giddy at the sight waiting for me at the Post Office and I was giggling like a teenager. I am sorry, I couldn’t help it. Postcards, or any mails for that matter, really bring joy to my day. 
Take for example this postcard from my Keri. It is quite unexpected. She and I have been friends since 1998 although we haven’t seen each other yet. After our paths crossed through email, we became pen pals, exchanging letters, greeting cards and pictures for years. We lost contact in the mid-2000 when she was pursuing her undergraduate degree and I was busy with my career. Then, out of the blue, I found her by just following blog links one day. Isn’t it great?

Keri wrote: When I saw this postcard, I thought of you! How sweet of her.
Looking closely at the picture of the Table Mountain (upper middle photo), I can, sort of, see (or imagine) where she lives 🙂 She once told me that her apartment is on the left side of the mountain, just around the corner and that they are looking at the mountain short-side on. Being on the third floor of the building she has a fantastic view of the mountain from her bedroom window. Now that is priceless – waking up in the morning to see the Table Mountain standing majestically. 

The other views on the postcard are of, clockwise from top left, Namaqualand (it is up the west side of the country and despite its semi-desert environment, apparently  local and foreign tourists flock there during springtime for its amazing wild spring flowers), the lion, the beautiful sunset of Blyde Canyon, and the city of Cape Town. She herself has never been to Namaqualand and plans to go there in a place called Little Namaqualand where Richterslveld, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located.  They will camp there and go hiking with friends. I would love to go hiking there, too. It must be great to see this amazing landscape by way of trekking/hiking and interacting with the locals. Some people I know raise their eyebrows at me for being enthusiastic in activities such as this. Well, why not? Hiking does a lot of wonders to a person’s well being. What many of these people don’t know is that hiking can be used as alternative to walking or running on a treadmill. Hiking also helps reduce stress, burns fat thereby contributing to weight loss, and prevents heart ailments. I can say hiking is one of the best fat burners in my list! Oh dear me, but I digress now. I got carried away again. 

Moving on to the stamp…. It is a commemorative stamp marking the FIFA World Cup hosted by South Africa in June this year.

The stamp above is part of the first set (of the two sets) issued by SAPO, consisting of six self-adhesive round-shaped stamps. It features the official logo, the jabulani (the official match ball), and the 18-carat gold FIFA World Cup trophy. SA is probably the only country in the African region to issue its own World Cup stamps.

Dankie vir die pragtige poskaart, Keri. Die stempel is net so awesome, ook.

Many, many thanks for the lovely postcard, Keri. The stamp is equally awesome, too.

That’s what friends are for!

I received these last week but I am still in philatelist’s heaven!
Mailed straight from the Johannesburg’s Oliver R. Tambo International Airport Post Office were two stamped South African postcards and two envelopes containing (one) a map of Botswana and (two) assorted South African mint stamp sheets!

Baie dankie to my very good friend, Fe. It pays to have friends you can bribe — errrrr — scratch that! It pays to have friends, period. Sadly, she and her family have left Africa to be based somewhere in… China! Well, well, well… Chinese stamps are also amazing and there’s this one particular issue that I want to get for my collection… *wink-wink*

Nigerian stamps

In addition to the Nigerian postcard that I posted previously, here I am showing the stamps that were used:

The first two stamps were part of a special three-series issued by the Nigerian Postal Office in 2005 to commemorate the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)  held in Tunis, Tunisia. WSIS was held to gather information experts and worldwide leaders in one setting to understand the growing information society (as well as the ICTs – Information and Communication Technologies) and to formulate strategies to bridge the digital divide between the developed and developing countries. 
Having been involved in a rural ICT project here in Cambodia, I have attended, and took part in a panel discussion, a conference similar to this one. It’s actually the Global Knowledge conference (held in Kuala Lumpur, 2007) and there thousands of ICT experts, researchers and development workers gathered to showcase how their respective projects have addressed the issue of digital divide in their countries and how  local communities react to these new technologies. The UNDP was there along with other big international organisations and promised assistance (financial or technical) to local, community-based representives, while researchers and development workers (like me)  have networked with others for project collaborations. It was such a big gathering, I tell you. But I digress.
The second stamp features one of Nigeria’s best in the field of engineering – Professor AWOJOBI Ayodele. Here are some information about Prof. Awojobi that I lifted off the Nigerian Village Square site’s tribute to him:

He was in his 30s when he became a professor of engineering at the University of Lagos (Unilag), the youngest ever then, after a First Class B.Sc. from University of London and PhD from Imperial College, London, at the age of 28!

His engineering wizardry saw him singlehandedly converting the driving wheel of a motor vehicle from one side to another when Nigeria changed her road driving laws from left-hand to right-hand. He named it AUTONOV I. Then went further to design AUTONOV II, a bi-directional automobile that can be moved forward and backward without turning it round. Awojobi’s vehicle had two steering, four gears and three seats and, we are told, remain on display in the Unilag Mechanical engineering workshop.

 But it is in his passion for and commitment to a better Nigeria that Awojobi towered above all. Like Tai Solarin, and Gani Fawehinmi – crusaders who gave their lives to the cause of a greater Nigeria and humanity as a whole, using all legitimate means (the law courts, protests on the streets) to demand for justice, human rights and good governance. And, as does happen to all those who want “to save the world”, Awojobi died in the process – in 1984 at age 47! Were he alive today, he would be 72.

For the complete write up, please follow this link.

African beauty

I’m a happy postcard collector! I received another postcard from the African country of Nigeria — a new country to boot! Woohoo!!

Below is the newest country in my postcard collection showing a beautiful Fulani maiden in her native costume and adorned with jewelry — check out her nice beaded necklace. Now this is what I call a beauty – just look at her features! I love her smooth skin without a trace of a single pimple, blackhead or other kind of imperfections. I also like that what I think is a simple traditional tattoo on her face adds more to her appeal. What do you think?
Sent by Ahmed Abbas Maswoord
Postmarked  Lagos, Nigeria
14 December 2009

Most people frown on tattoos but in most tribes in Africa it is a symbol of beauty. What is beautiful, anyway? The definition of beauty varies from one culture to another, from East to West, North and South.

The Fulani are nomadic people from West Africa and are found in countries such as Nigeria, Mali, and Senegal. In Nigeria (where this postcard originated from) the Fulani tribes live in Northern Nigeria and are mostly Moslems. 
Thank you, Abbas, for this postcard. I will be posting the other one you sent me next time.

Elegant impalas

Okay, I’m back to regular  blog posts from now on.
Thank you for bearing with my (tennis) fan-girl streaks.

What do we have here?

Sent by my good friend Fe
Postmarked 09 Oct 2009
Gaborone, Botswana

She’s a beauty, isn’t she? The impala, I mean.
The picture looks sooo National Geographic-esque… A shot of a graceful impala up close never fails to tug our hearts. Impalas are capable of leaping and bounding in order to avoid their predators in the African wildlife. They are fleet runners, who can leap a distance of about 10meters. No wonder we often see an image of a leaping impala as it typically jumps over anything in its path. That’s really awesome. I wonder though if impalas do suffer from joint pains once in a while. I mean, they do a lot of running and leaping, don’t they? Just kidding.
The bird sitting on top of the impala is called a red-billed oxpecker. What it does is it clambers on their hosts and search for ticks and blood-sucking insects and flies that infest their hides. The red-billed oxpeckers doesn’t only do this “cleaning service” to impalas but also extends to rhinos, buffaloes, giraffes, and other game animals.   
I find it really awesome to see two species in one picture. This postcard, in my opinion, best exemplifies the great symbiotic — give and take — relationship of nature.
Now on to the stamp… 
The black-striped Hairtail butterfly, anthene amarah, is featured on this 5pula definitive stamp. It’s part of the 14-set of butterfly stamps issued in 2007. 

South Africa

Okay, I’m on a roll here 😀
This is a new country in my collection, the fourth postcard I received from Africa, and the first postcard from South Africa, too, so I had to post this right away!

This was sent by my friend Fe while she and her family were transiting in Johannesburg international airport on their way to Botswana. She was the same person who sent me the Wildlife Botswana postcard which I posted here some weeks ago.

When she was still here in Phnom Penh, I used to tell her about my desire to visit South Africa. In case you don’t know, South Africa is in my dream destinations list. I have heard so much of South Africa’s wonderful diversity – from the magnificent wildlife and scenic splendour, to the diverse culture of its people. There’s no harm in dreaming, right? It would also be a big push if I can finally locate my reward card lying somewhere amongst the clutter of my apartment so I could review and know whether I have enough points to redeem for a free ticket to any destination of my choice.

Back to the main story, I’d like to take your attention to the stamp used.

In 2008, the South African Postal Office issued a set of stamps featuring the Big 5 Wild African animals. The above stamp features the leopard, and the other members of the Big 5 include the lion, rhino, elephant, and buffalo. If you would notice, the illustration is cartoonish, which I like very much. The wild animals look playful and tame I want to have them as pets!
A booklet contains 10stamps with two of designs of each animals, denominated as Airmail Postcards. The stamps are designed by a South African artist, Dr. Jack and he also designed the FDCs and first day postmark. If any of you happens to travel to South Africa or are from South Africa, I would love to swap a booklet or an FDC with you for my (and my sister’s) collection. Please contact me through this blog, or email me at postmistress-at-postcardscrossing-dot-com. Thanks, I’m looking forward to hearing from all of you.

Wildlife Botswana

I’m so-so-so-so-so happy to tell you that I received several postcards from a new country in Africa. This time, it was sent by my very good friend Fe who moved there mid-last year with her family. Her husband, a sought-after art teacher, found a placement in Gaborone, capital of Botswana, just before his teaching contract at an international school in Phnom Penh expired. Fe and I met ten years ago through a mutual friend, and during the ten years we’ve been in Cambodia we were inseparable. But when she left, a huge part of me was crushed. Ten years of being together almost everyday, doing things together, and so suddenly they uprooted themselves and went to a greener pasture. But enough of the drama!

Look here, marvel at the beautiful postcard:

Postmarked Gaborone
Dated 20 October 2009

Botswana is covered by the Kalahari desert and is Africa’s leader in economic freedom. According to Wikipedia, Botswana is the only mainland nation in Africa to have maintained free and fair elections since its independence.

Botswana is a landlocked country in Southern Africa and its wildlife, according to tourism magazines and online sites, is arguably second to none in Africa. It is one of the world’s premier wildlife viewing destinations. The Botswanans take pride in the huge population of elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards, hyenas, and wild dogs following the migration trail across the plains of Kalahari.

So naturally, the exotic wildlife figure prominently especially in this postcard. The postcard shows a pride of lions reluctantly giving way to a herd of jumbo elephants as they move in to drink at a waterhole. This massive elephants surely shouldn’t be denied access, even the mighty lions acknowledge that size does matter when you are in the wilds.

Don’t you find the African wildlife amazing? I do! In fact, it’s one of my dreams to be able to set foot in to the African soil and see the wildlife and experience the culture. My younger sister beat me to it when she got accepted in the VSO and was assigned in Kenya late last year.

Postcard Friendship Friday 022: Karibu, Kenya

This is my very first postcard coming from Kenya (yipeee, new country!) and the second postcard from the African continent. 
Karibu is a Swahili word meaning welcome. Thus, Karibu Kenya means Welcome to Kenya. My younger sister is currently based in Lukore in Mombasa, Kenya working as a VSO Volunteer helping strengthen institutional and staff capacity of a farmers (fruit-growers) cooperative there. After having settled, one of the things she did first was send us postcards and below was what she sent me:

She knows pretty well that, aside from map cards, I love postcards that feature people in their traditional costumes. In Kenya, there are several dozens of ethnic tribes who all have different traditional styles of clothings. Much importance is given to the ornaments of both women and men. Beads,  headdresses (and even hairstyles) and jewelries indicate wealth and status. 

I do not have a thorough knowledge about Kenyan traditional costumes so it is difficult for me to identify which tribes each of the people in the postcard actually belong to. However,  I find them to be very colorful and attractive. The clothes and neck plates and other jewelries are a blend of various colors and designs indicative of their tribe. My sister loves so much the kitenge, a traditional dress (also used in other African countries) and is usually tie-dyed and embroided. The material used to make kitenge, according to her, looks and feels so much like a sarong, a piece of clothing used mainly in Asian countries. She loves it so much she bought several pieces of them ready for shipping back to the Philippines.