Mabu reaches out to Karowe Mine
05 Apr 2022
Renowned as one of the world’s most prolific producers of large, high-value type IIA diamonds and the only diamond mine in recorded history to have produced two +1 000 carat diamonds, the Karowe mine accentuates Botswana’s position as the world leading diamond producers by value.
Subsequent to the commissioning of the mine in 2012, which was formerly known as AK6, the then 18-year-old Mr Leipone Mabu named the mine Karowe, which loosely translates to a precious stone in Sesarwa language.
Despite the pre-eminence of Karowe mine as among the world’s foremost producers of large, high-value diamonds, the narrative of the brains behind the name Karowe tells a gloomy tale.
As the mine celebrates 10 years anniversary, BOPA caught up with Mr Mabu to narrate his journey with the mine from its infancy and his story is not a novel occurrence.
In the sweltering heat, Mr Mabu stands at a road junction to the Karowe mine site with several other casual labourers hopeful to get picked up for any temporary construction work.
“I am doing so well,” he says, by way of salutations. But his grimace suggests otherwise and his sunburned face nonetheless lights up as he commences to recount his involvement with the mine from yesteryears.
Born in a settlement near Mokubilo 28 years ago, Mr Mabu had to grapple with the hardships of being raised by a single unemployed parent in an environment where poverty was the order of the day.
Being the first born in a family of six, he had a lot resting on his shoulders and had to turn lemons into lemonade at an early age to put food on the table.
Mr Mabu, thought he had his first breakthrough in 2012 when he was encouraged by his art teacher to enter the competition to name a newly commissioned mine near Letlhakane.
“Through the encouragement of my teacher I entered a competition to name the new mine and my choice of name which was Karowe was declared the winner among the many that entered the competition,” he said.
In return for naming the mine, he said, he received P2 500 as a first prize award and that was the last time he heard from the mine.
The money, he said came in handy at the time and further motivated him to stay focused on his desire to complete his secondary and tertiary education and get a white-collar job in the city.
As fate would have it though, he did not get employment.
Things took an ugly turn after completion of his Junior school education,
“ I felt short of securing a place at secondary school, hence missed the ultimate goal of enrolling at senior school and hand to mouth jobs was the only way to survival,” he says.
He did not pursue a tertiary education as his parents could not afford private tuition fees.
Being unemployed and out of school, the going got tougher for him as he struggled to make ends meet and while he could have given in to the life of poverty and followed that same path as his family, Mr Mabu tried to find solace in his artistic work through the sale of sculptures but the idea was also short lived due to lack of startup funds.
Even in today’s time and despite repeated initiatives of economic empowerment and social uplift, efforts on the ground do not seem enough to mitigate his woes.
“My ties with the mine are absolutely unbreakable and it pains me that I have nothing to show in regard to my association with naming the mine.
It is, therefore, my humble plea to the mine management to at least offer me any job to sustain myself,” he said.
Mr Mabu is of the view that the mine should have a special dispensation in the form of affirmative action towards individuals who have some sort of history with the mine.
It goes without saying that the lack of jobs in settlements around the Boteti area is casting a shadow on Mr Mabu’s and other young people’s dreams and their only hope rest within the mines to rescue them from the claws of poverty. ENDS
Source : BOPA
Author : Thato Mosinyi
Location : KAROWE
Event : FEATURE
Date : 05 Apr 2022