Fishing with the Women of Mbukushu Tribe in Botswana


The Mbukushu tribe in Botswana are friendly natives who live off the land. In this tribe, the women are the fishermen.

Located in the northern region of this African country, the Mbukushu people live along the Okavango Delta. They believe in the power of the natural world and spend their lives empowering the agriculture around them. They are known for their ability to make it rain, they grow their own grains, and live off their ability to retract fish from the river.

Their Technique

Their women weave baskets from twigs and sisal to trap their nightly dinners. The weaving technique is passed down through generations. The pattern is so precise that the gaps are just large enough to release the young fish and trap the decent sized ones for a meal. Along with their children, they drape these four foot, cone-shaped vessels over their heads carrying them to the nearby floodplains of the Delta. In the shallow confinement of the lily stalks, these women dip in their baskets and corral as many fish as possible. Each one is a piece to feed their entire community. Each one is important.


These women truly bring light to what is known as a man’s activity. They build baskets just for catching and teach their children their perfected art. What is truly amazing is the Mbukushu women do all this fishing while warding off crocodiles. Women have lost arms defending their children from these attacks. They learn to concentrate on the task at hand while staying alert to the lurking terrors of the Okavango Delta. They are peaceful people, meaning this is the only danger a woman would face in their tribe. Minus the stressful attacks, the Mbukushu women find their zen fishing.

Why should fishing appeal to women?

While you are feigning for your life and straining the murky water for fish, you are enjoying the beautiful world of the Mbukushu people. You are hearing them laugh and watching them work while participating in what makes their days unique. You are truly experiencing the culture. You are learning to weave and collect for their people. Staying aware of the stealthy crocodiles yearning for your limbs, you can surround yourself with the friendly culture of these friendly and welcoming people. You are one of them, even if you cannot speak Thimbukushu.

Despite the crocodile attacks and hard work of these women, the Mbukushu people truly show what life is like in the heart of African culture. This is true for thousands of tribes around the world. Small tribes throughout Africa and South America thrive off this outdoor activity. While all regions may not be safe for women to travel alone, the Mbukushu people are not one of these dangerous cultures. The women can make us appreciate this manly activity and prove that we really do belong pulling glory from a river.

Have you experienced the culture of a fishing tribe? Share with us your adventure findings.


About Author

Kayla Dome is a Colorado native and adventure advocate. She spends her summers exploring the mountains of Southern Colorado via zipline while sharing her knowledge as a freelance travel writer year round. Writing about Colorado travel on her blog, Locals of Colorado, Kayla lives for the beauty of the untainted lands of our world.

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