In December, the choice for the stamp of the month was again difficult for me. In the end, however, I decided on a stamp from Botswana (10 Botswana Pula). It depicts a national monument of the country – a baobab (baobab) tree. On this stamp specifically the prison post tree of Kasane. Already on my trip through Botswana decades ago, these trees fascinated me. Especially since they shed their foliage during the dry season and then look like they were stuck upside down in the ground – roots up. They grow particularly old (up to 3000 years) and their trunks can reach large diameters.
The baobab tree located at the Kasane Police Station played an important role in the administration of justice, mail distribution, and recruitment of labour in northern Botswana. Before the advent of modern prisons in the region, cavities in the trunk were used as jails. There are some window-like openings that apparently brought both light and ventilation to these prison cells. As a prominent feature in the landscape, it also served as a drop-off point for mail in the Chobe region. Travellers deposited their mail here and it was then taken by other travellers to the “destination villages.”
Three other baobab national monuments are also immortalized in this series. Green’s baobab (2 Botswana pula), is arguably one of the largest trees in the region (after Chapman’s baobab fell in 2016) and was named after an inscription by the Green brothers during an 1858-59 expedition. Another stamp features the Baines baobabs (7 Botswana pula). These are a group of seven giant gnarled trees, also called the “seven sisters” or the “sleeping sisters”, captured on canvas by painter and explorer Thomas Baines in May 1862. Lastly, the baobabs are pictured (9 Botswana Pula) growing on an isolated granite rock about 10 meters high and a kilometre long, known as Kubu Island, in the middle of a salt pan.
But for us philatelists, the prison and post-baobab of Kasane is probably still the most important in this series.