Grand bay botanical garden is segagwe's labour of love
After waiting for two years just to get approval for change of land use, it took the man yet more patience to get connected to the power grid and have Telecomms install its Rural Star for Internet connectivity from which the country folk of Fikeng are now benefitting. Obakeng Segwagwe’s veritable ‘Edenic Park’ is today often getting fully booked for conferences, weddings, social parties, etcetera. TSHEPISO GABOTLHOMOLWE & TAELO MAPHORISA nipped down to the place recently
The hamlet of Fikeng lies 25 kilometres from Gaborone along the Mankgodi-Manyana Road. This is where, minutes from the new intersection at Boatle, is found one of the latest landmark additions to Botswana’s capital territory, Grand Bay Botanical Gardens. It is a place that symbolises success, passion and love for Obakeng Segwagwe. He smiles as his eyes sweep over his 3.5 hectares of land, the trees and green grass that adorn the developed sections of it, with interstices of roses here and there.
The proprietor explains that he loves nature and values what quiet and tranquility can do for a person. “Owning a garden has been my dream,” he says with a smile of contentment. Segwagwa explains that he reached a point where he decided that he would own a garden with or without funding because he also believes in being an exemplar of good values, especially hard work.
Much of this dream is now achieved, but it took the land board two years to approve change of land use from farming to recreation as a tourist attraction. “This remains one my best possessions as it combines my love for leisure,” Segwagwe says. He describes getting connected to the grid for electricity and the cellphone network as having been “very tedious and financially daunting experiences”. But he succeeded in the end, and the surrounding communities of BaLete and BaFurutshe are today benefiting from these services, especially BTC’s Rural Star for Internet connectivity.
Walking around the garden, one cannot miss the artificial rock formations that Segwaga says were made from scratch using sand, cement and water. The proprietor’s smile does not leave his face as he leads the way to two 10 000-litre reservoirs that draw water from a borehole in the vicinage. Segwage proudly points the BWR team to a man-made dam that feeds a stream that is straddled by a small pedestrian steel bridge. “There is something I love about water,” he says. “Hopefully I will have birds flocking to and from this place soon.”His affinity for water is evident in several rockeries of different shapes and sizes that are also fountains around Grand Bay. Segwagwa says the garden has no fixed plan and so accommodates his creativity as he develops it. A total of 20 people, full timers and part timers, are helping him to transform his acreage into something of an ‘Edenic Park’ before adding accommodation facilities for those who may want to spend a night at Fikeng. “Although this is still in progress, there is a change room when we are booked, especially for weddings,” he explains.
People who wish to host their events at Grand Bay have the option of bringing their own décor’ and preparing their own food or being served by staff at the facility. According to the proprietor, a special rate applies when Grand Bay serves people who book the place for their events. “There are different packages for different tastes,” Segwagwe explains. “We host conferences, parties and weddings. I would encourage people to in advance because most of our weekends are fully booked.”
Although it is already open for business, work is still in progress here at this refreshing place that is only a breeze away from the madding crowd in Gabs. During our tour recently, two workmen were planting palm trees to add what Segwagwe called “a touch of Paradise” to Grand Bay. He says the swimming pool, which has its own fountain, is proving the favourite of most people coming to Grand Bay so far.