It was September 2018 when I first visited Maun and decided I could see myself settling here. There was, and still is, a tranquility about Maun that touched my heart. Maun isn’t so far removed from a village, yet the look of the place sparks your interest. There is a whole lot of creativity and passion that has been mixed into it.
When you first walk around this dusty, sprawling, delightful little town, you’ll see what it is all about, in a word, Tourism. You won’t see many folks in smart suits like the capital, Gaborone, but rather people in safari attire. There is a feeling of the town being natural and wild, a border post town to the Okavango Delta. It’s not uncommon to see people walking around in bare feet with their casual clothes, not because they can’t afford shoes but because it’s a choice to be free of them.
There is a relaxed freedom in Maun, which comes across in it’s look
The second thing you start to notice is that the town boasts an eclectic mixture of modern buildings, with completely crazy artistic structures and also native huts. This infrastructure of facilities and buildings is what distinguishes Maun from the rest of the Delta and Ngamiland. It is what makes it attractive to locals yet has a magnetic push-pull effect on travellers. Some visitors view the look of Maun as sporadic and disorganised. A mess of older style buildings and off-the-wall designs – with seemingly no organisation or structure, not even built around its best feature – the river. A place to travel through and then leave.
But they should stop and stay a while…. If only to experience the African vibe of one of the numerous painted shebeens serving home-brewed sorghum beer to a local crowd. Or for a more overland and expat scene, there is the Old Bridge Backpackers, built by the river next to an epically large fig tree. The Backpackers has a popular bar set between old, weathered lead-wood logs and that’s where you can play pool with your feet in the sand. Evenings are dimly lit with good music floating through the air.
If you stop and stay a while in Maun, you might get to know and love why things look the way they do. For example, the ‘Power Station’ with all of William Dugmore’s metal creativity and ingenuity worked into it. The painted container offices and café. The large wildlife statues dotted around the town made by different artists.
Of course, I can’t miss telling you about one of the most unique pieces of architecture found in Maun, the Motsana Cultural Centre. Home to the Interior Design Studio I work at, Amy Fletcher Design. As well as a gorgeously bright and delicious café, a second hand clothes store, two curio shops, dance studios, and is the venue for weekly cinema plus all kind of events (theatre shows / talks / Halloween / Christmas / monthly markets etc.)
Home to the Interior Design Studio I work at
This two-story Moroccan-style building is situated in Matlapaneng area along the road to Khwai and Moremi Game Reserve. It is definitely one of Maun’s most unique and quirky structures. It rises from the ground like an organic fortress, providing both tourist and local alike with culture and refreshment.
You could be right to say ‘design‘ in Maun is sporadic, unorganized and unpredictable. From cheap to traditional to wacky and creative. It doesn’t follow a pattern but tells a story of this little town’s past and present. Always changing, always evolving, always relying on the ingenuity and creativity of its inhabitants.
Written by Chedza Majore