Sir Seretse Khama - First President of Botswana
Just in front of the Parliament Building is a statue of Sir Seretse Khama (1 July 1921-13 July 1980). Khama was actually the King of Tswana tribe and went to study in England after Word War II. In 1948 he married an English woman, Ruth Williams, and was striped of his chieftainship because he had broken tradition. He was exiled in England until 1963 when he returned to found the multi-racial Bechuanaland Democratic Party (BDP). This party supported the peaceful development of the country on a non-racial equality basis which still serves Botswana, to its credit, even today. On 30 September 1966 the country gained independence from Great Britain and Khama became the countries first President.
On his statue is this quote:
“Human dignity, like justice and freedom, is the common heritage of all men.”
The Parliament of Botswana has 2 parts: The National Assembly and the House of chiefs. The National Assembly is the all-elected lower house which is responsible for producing legislation. The upper house, the House of chiefs partly elected and partly made up of chiefs of the larger tribes inside Botswana.
Remember to take malaria pills with you. I noticed that there in fact are mosquitoes even in the city center. I even spotted one inside the National Gallery. I forgot to take mine, luckily didn't get malaria, though..
KOLOBENG NATIONAL MEMORIAL
David Livingstone is more widely known for ‘discovering’ Victoria Falls. It is less well known that he was a Missionary who built the first church in Botswana here at Kolobeng. He was lived here with his wife Mary and their children Robert & Agnes from 1847-1852. The two buildings were a Missionary Station and a Church/School. Sadly Agnes died and she is buried nearby. The buildings were reportedly destroyed during a Boer raid whilst the Livingston’s were away travelling in 1852. Only the foundations and some iron work remain. There is a good toilet on the site. The entrance is well marked by a National Monument sign from the road and closer to the site (pictured). You need to close the gate behind your car on the main road and drive about 500 meters. Park your car outside the gate with the chains. They are not locked, just tied around the gate (pictured).
The site is located just off the Mogoditshane-Kanye road near the evergreen village of Kumakwane – 40 kilometres south-west of Gaborone.
Gaborone: a capital city w/ a strange design
"Learning to pronounce 'Gaborone'"
The 'G' is more like an 'H' sound, but with a bit of a throaty thing added in, and the 'e' at the end is pronounced as a long e sound. So phonetically, it is spelled something more like Hahboronee.
According to Wikipedia, for many years, Gaborone was the fastest growing city in the world. Even today, it is still considered the fastest growing city in Africa.
But I found it to be designed in a very strange manner. It is very spread out. A resident told me it was designed by 2 Swedish guys on drugs! I don't know if it's true, but I could understand it if it is. :) I drove around that city for a week and never fully understood how or why things were placed the way they were!
Gaborone is located in the south of Botswana (only a short 15 kilometers from the border of South Africa).
"The center of the city"
When you say 'downtown' or the 'city center' in Gaborone, you would be referring to the government enclave. It's easy to find. They are the newer, more modern-looking buildings in the city. This is the center, so they tell me. There is a small walking area and a few monuments (you'll see a few in my Things To Do tips).
The modernist city center is surrounded by lower-rise development (organized as 'blocks,') and that has not been subject to the same planning as the enclave. But the city is surrounded by villages: Ramotswa to the south east, Mogoditshane to the north west, and Mochudi to the east and Tlokweng. A lot of people live in these villages and work in Gaborone.
A railway line divides the city into two.
Just FYI: Botswana's Independence Day is September 30, 1966.
"Batswana live in Botswana"
Just like citizens of New York are New Yorkers, citizens of Botswana are Batswana. So now you know. I was reading a newspaper on my first morning in Botswana and couldn't understand why some people spelled it with an 'o' and some with an 'a'. I just couldn't accept that it was being misspelled in a nation-wide newspaper! :)
AIDS and southern Africa
Botswana, like many nations in southern Africa, suffers from a high AIDS infection rate, which was 38.8% for adults in 2002. In 2003, the government began a comprehensive program involving free or cheap generic anti-retroviral drugs as well as an information campaign designed to stop the spread of the virus.
From what I have seen and heard during my time in Botswana, I'd have to say it's going to be a slow-going process to change the culture and stop the spread of HIV. One word comes to mind when I think of Batswana: promiscuous. It is common for men to have many girlfriends as well as a wife and children. And it is accepted for a wife to have a boyfriend on the side. And this is one of the biggest factors in the continued spread of HIV in the country. Someone told me, "The culture is literally killing itself."
I saw it myself. I went out one night with a few guys from the course I was teaching. We stopped by one guy's house and I met his wife, son and brother-in-law. We then went out to the Bee 6 Bar (Bee means 'block' and the city is divided into blocks). He didn't return with us. He went off with a girl he met at the bar.
//more to come//