My Passion – Geology

Ms. Keketso Patricia Kabi, a final year student of Geology at the University of Botswana, originally from Lesotho, tells us about her passion in geology.

Who I am, Why I chose geology  and why I still want to do it.
I fell in love with geology from watching National Geographic and the Discovery Channel on television in primary school.  My sister always thought I was joking but I knew what I wanted to do.

Why I love Geology?
I feel that in the same way that people tell stories in different ways, nature also has its way of telling stories. Every single rock has its own story. For example, you can derive so much information from rocks. You can tell its mineralogy, when it was formed, its history through its hydration and deformation patterns. There is so much more to geology than rocks. There is the study of water involving the interaction between water and rocks both underground and in the atmosphere. There is also the study of soil and rock mechanics which influence constructions such as roads and buildings. So every construction, basically, needs aWaterfall_Geology geological study done on the site before any construction can begin. It is different from anything else I have ever done and it is amazing. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Why study Geology at Botswana?
The university in Lesotho does not offer earth sciences like Geology. I also applied and won a government scholarship to study in Botswana. I was the only one who won the scholarship to study geology.

What am I currently working on?
I am currently about to complete my final year project which involves analyzing certain rocks in Phikwe, which were originally mapped as amphibole rocks but are not. My supervisor and I are working on correcting the mapping. I am also hoping to start my internship in Lesotho in 2 months.

Role models?
I have two. My friend and a mentor, Mr. Ishmael Letang. He has a similar passion for geology and motivates me to do more, to try new things and keep pushing forward. The other one is my supervisor Prof. Kehelpannala. He is the kind of person who lives geology. He has worked in Europe and Asia and predicted more than 100 earthquakes, including the 2003 Tsunami. He has an eye for important details that make the study of rocks a bit complex.

Any female mentorship along the way? 
My biology teacher in high school, though, was a great teacher. She taught in a way that enabled me to connect with the material. I got an A+ in Biology because what she taught stuck with you.

How is it studying in male dominated environment?
Well, the guys in our class felt that geology is a male course. Even the rules do not allow ladies to do field mapping as a final year project because it is apparently unsafe. This decision is based on the premise that one has to walk long distances alone to collect the required samples. It is unfortunate, though, because I was the group leader during  group fieldwork and our group had the highest mark. I scored the highest score in that course and I really enjoy it.

Do I take this as a challenge? 
Yes. Fieldwork is a key part of geology, and despite its risks, I should be allowed to participate fully. However, I had to find a different area for my final year project which did not involve mapping and I like my work on the project so far.

My challenges during my studies?
BSF General in the first year at the university was rough because the of the large workload. Some courses like calculus and organic chemistry had been done in high school by the local students and I had not. I had to catch up. The other challenge is time management. Time management is the hardest thing ever. The balance between courses and project, juggling all of these and the course requirements(presentations, quizzes, term papers).

Lessons learned?
Do not procrastinate. Attend everything when the task is handed to you and finish it. Otherwise, work will keep piling.


What area of geology do I intend to practice?
Engineering geology or geotechnical, that is, designing slope failure, watering systems for open pits and underground mines.

Mining in Lesotho?
Yes, there is mining of diamonds in Lesotho. However, there are so many economic minerals to prospect for such as pyrite, chalcopyrite, coal. I intend to search for different minerals that can be multipurpose like pyrite which is a compound of iron and sulphur. Separating iron from sulphur would produce the metal as well as sulphur to be used for production of sulphuric acid. I think this would create a lot of jobs.

Dream for the future? 
I would like to build my own Geo-consultancy company. There is a gap in geoscience in Lesotho. There are no Geo companies in Lesotho and the university is not offering geology yet.

Any business that I have started?
I have previously consulted for a company in Lesotho, in terms of determining the best sites for quarrying and whether the material is suitable for construction.

Swimming is fun. It is exercise and enjoying at the same time. I also enjoy reading novels. My latest read is Bittersweet by Danielle Steel.

Last words?
Science is easy. There is no such thing as hard. It is all about passion and the amount of work you intend to put in. If you are passionate about something, everything will just flow.

Your mantra?
I am creating a brand out of geology.

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