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De Graaf Presents the History of the Ghanzi Horse Endurance Relay

To follow is the speech given by Christiaan De Graaff at the 2016 Gantsi Horse Endurance Relay.

I would like to thank the Lady Khama Charitable Trust for giving me the opportunity to present the History of the Ghanzi Horse Endurance Relay and my passion for the Trust. I will start from the beginning, growing up as a young man in Gantsi, I always had great respect for Lady Khama. I discovered one day that Lady Khama really loved Mahupo. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Mahupo – it’s a sort of wild truffle which appears just after good rains, right before winter in the Trans Kalahari. The Mahupo is something very difficult to see with untrained eyes, luckily through my tannekom days my eyes became more and more familiar with these treasures. I started to collect and send them with my friend Vickerman who would happily deliver them to Lady Khama, each time after my tannekom. Each time I would receive the most beautiful handwritten thank you letter from the Lady Khama herself.

This went on for years. One day after sending the Mahupo as usual with Vickerman, instead of receiving my much-loved thank you note, I received something better. Vickerman visited me to let me know that the Lady Khama would like me to bring the next Mahupo myself and have tea with her. I took up her offer and had the most wonderful tea, chatting and eating our Mahupo. This grew my respect for this wonderful, kind woman even more.

After Lady Khama died in 2002 and the Lady Khama Charitable Trust was set up, I went to visit His Excellency Dr. S.K.I Khama, to tell him about my story with his mother. I also wanted to show him the letters and find out how I could contribute to the Trust. He was very enthusiastic, but asked me what I had in mind in doing for the Trust. I have always had a love for horses and most especially riding horses. My family has a general dealer that my mum used to run; it’s 26km from our house and I used to go visit her frequently on my horse. I also used to ride a lot on our tannekom’s; herding 1,000 cattle from Gantsi to Lobatse with my brothers. This journey used to take between 36 and 40 days and we’d cover about 25km a day. It was some great times looking for Mahupo and being on our horses!

In response to His Excellency Dr. S.K.I Khama’s question, what I had in mind for the trust, I said I would like to do something reminiscent of the tannekom days. To have riders from Lobatse and Ghanzi come together with some sponsorship and take part in this endurance journey from Gantsi to Gaborone, and give any funds we raised to the Lady Khama Charitable Trust. His Excellency was very happy with the idea. The Ghanzi Horse Endurance Relay has been taking place for the past seven years now; every year we receive more sponsorship and every year we are able to give more to the Lady Khama Charitable Trust.

I have had the opportunity to be part of the some of the projects that the Trust funds, namely the Tlamelong Rehabilitation Centre, a horticulture project in partnership with PPC Cement, which will provide fresh produce for the centre itself, as well as to enable them to sell the excess produce, thus making this a sustainable project.

I was brought up in a household where my father told to me to always help the disadvantaged or you will never sleep well. But if you help as many disadvantaged people as possible you will sleep well forever!

May the spirit of charity that embodied Lady Khama throughout her life, live on through the trust!


SOURCE: The Monitor (

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