Botswana and Zimbabwe baskets, which are still used in traditional households for carrying and storing grain, are decorated with an array of intricate designs. In Botswana, along the Okavango pan-handle, basket designs resemble fascinating traditional stories and legends as told and illustrated so vividly by Bontekanye Botumile in her storybook “Patterns in the Sky”, for which she won the 2007 Bessie Head Literature award. The baskets from Botswana and Zimbabwe represent some of Africa’s most exquisite and culturally significant art forms. Forehead of the Zebra, Tears of the Giraffe and Knees of the Tortoise are some of the creative names given to the basket designs.
Traditionally, botswana baskets are woven by women. Even so, the story behind the basket patterns starts with Teko, who is born in a traditional village in rural Africa.
Teko is an unusual young man in that – to his father’s disapproval, he also loves to weave baskets and is very attentive and inventive, learning new designs from nature.
His path to manhood requires him to track, hunt and kill different animals under protection of his spiritual ancestors. An initiation ceremony will be held in six months.
Teko has to return with proof of his successes: the forehead of the zebra, the back of the rock-python, the knees of the tortoise, the ribs of a giraffe, the forehead of a kudu and the egg of an ostrich.
Each of the animals he has to hunt presents unique challenges to him, both in hunting, in taking away a trophy he could carry home, and in patterns for basket weaving.
Assisted by magical powers provided by his ancestors and his giant friend Sangurungusa from the woods, he is given the power of being able to talk with animals.
Guided by a flock of quelea birds that make patterns in the sky of the animals he is to bring home, Teko is able to acquire his six trophies without resorting to the use of any weapons.
Upon his return, his father had mourned the absence of his son, wondering if he was safe in the wild. Now that Teko is back home and safe, he decides that he will never forbid his son to weave baskets again…