Tuesday, October 15, 2013


1. The weather (which is anything but cool) but better summer than snow I say.  Well, I say that until its 40ºC plus for a week then I want anything but sun. The sky stays Botswana blue even in winter.

2. It's relatively safe. Your son can walk to school (as the majority of students do) unaccompanied and you don't have worry whether he'll make it home for supper or not.

3. Your daughter and sister can choose to become housewives or high court judges, CEOs or soldiers. In the last decade we had the first intake of women in the defence force and although I hear the attrition rate is quite high I'm glad the BDF continues to put out calls for more applicants and that some of those women are sticking to their guns - possibly literally - and staying in the program. Our courts have also ruled that women can now inherit land, this was previously not the case under Botswana's customary laws, you could buy property thereby owning land but you wouldn't get your daddy's farm if there was some seventh cousin fourty times removed who happened to be born with a Y chromosome.

4. The police officers don't carry weapons (though the way things are going...)

5. That there are women who are diKgosi (Chief is passable as a translation of that word)

6. The Kgotla (tribal/traditional administration center)

7. The handful of programs giving grants to Batswana to participate in certain industries - unfortunately for me I know nothing about goat rearing

8. The housing projects that build homes for destitute citizens

9. The religious tolerance, as far as I know, between the various religions represented within our borders

10. Yes, the safaris are cool too. The wildlife is diverse and plentiful and the landscapes are picturesque and we don't fence in the animals which I think is only fair since they were likely here first

11. Our various traditional dances

12. That our beef tastes so good.

13. That despite our total population being less than that of some countries' cities there are writers out there winning awards, journalists bagging Emmys, athletes getting gold, squash players in the top world rankings, beauty queens winning titles and here at home there are some really cool photographers and singers and animators and architects and doctors and Batswana working in fields that pre independence in 1966 those who were around couldn't have dreamt about

14. That google is available in Setswana (big deal for us, we have indigenous language issues) and that our President who reportedly couldn't really speak Setswana when he came in to office (long story) now addresses the people in Setswana which is only practical.

15. That Batswana are soooo funny I wish you could understand what they are saying; the taxi driver is a comedian, the teacher is a comedian, the siblings down the street are comedians and old people? oh they've been at it for years, they've got jokes for days.

16. That there isn't as much racial friction, certainly not overt discrimination, as I've sometimes been whacked over the head with when I find myself platonically or otherwise holding some pretty boy's hand in some countries

17. That, knock on wood, most Batswana have never heard a gun go off or seen one or been at either end of one.

18. That when we realised that we had a huge HIV/AIDS problem at a time when some countries were arguably fudging statistics we came out and said we have a problem and we need help, and we now have an established ARV program that provides free testing and therapeutic meds, we also have a robust and highly successful PMTCT program which gives our at risk new borns a fighting chance.

19. That despite there being, I'm told, 29 individual (all living) languages - 5 institutional, 10 developing, 11 vigorous and 3 in trouble according to the 17th languages of the world ethnologue edited by Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F Simons, and Charles D. Fennig - and only 2 state languages (Setswana and English) this has not led to conflict.  

20. That we were named the 9th coolest people on some list whose purpose and methodology I've forgotten ;)

I'm working on a 'Things to improve in Botswana' list, starting with the super slow and unreliable internet, but today I'm in a good mood and so is my ISP so I'm putting up my happy thoughts while the sun shines

1 comment:

  1. Hello TJ Dema. I'm happy to read this list as Botswana has taken a piece of my heart through being an exemplary country in Africa. First really introduced to it by the works of Alexander McCall Smith (Mma Ramotswe) it intrigued me and I've since discovered how it sets a great example for a continent that has so far not been successful in using its people and resources wisely.

    Being located thousands of kilometers away, and with strong aversion to temperatures above 25°C (seldom reached in my home of Iceland) I have found a way to do my little thing to assist Botswana as I've tried to put it on the map. OpenStreetMap to be exact. It is a Wikipedia style Google Maps you could say, anyone can put the data in and anyone can get the data out, wether on the web, using mobile devices or simply extracting the data for own use (like Foursquare and Flickr do now).

    Europe and North-America are highly detailed there, with some places having detail down to the smallest trees. The situation in Africa on OSM is much worse, with notable exceptions, like in Kenya where it has been embraced in the slums for example.

    Botswana had at the moment I looked at it some details in Maun, Francistown and Gaborone but elsewhere very lacking. I've put nearly all places mentioned in the 2011 Census on the map, just in name if not more, and personally started mapping places like Bokspits, Lehututu and currently improving Maun.

    What is lacking is local detail. There are some OSM people already in Botswana but they are not many. We have a list of polling stations, which would be useful for the map, but matching names with places on the map proves harder (which building in Lehututu is the school which is polling station, one example).

    Your own institution, Sauti Arts and Performance Management, is listed at Extension 2 in Gaborone, but looking at the Gaborone map we for example lack that designation.

    Would you like to put yourself on the map? It is quite easy to do, if needed I'd be willing to assist.

    With regards from Iceland,