The Cactus Patch
Volume 9       November 2006      Number 11

Forty Years?!!
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

The month of September was a long series of celebrations leading up to the 40th independence day on the 30th. [We were in New York for the 200th celebration in the US which had lots of tall ships. I later was on a field trip in Lesotho with a South African and found he had been on one of the ships.] I have already reported on the launching of the torch which then traveled through the country, returning to Gaborone on the 30th. The next event which we attended was a showing of the collection at the Thapong Visual Arts Centreon the 16th. It is not 40 (established only in 1999), but stems from earlier Art Workshops sponsored by the museum and represents a step toward a center for all the arts in Botswana.

The following week was rather frantic at the museum. After staying late on Thursday (I worked until 10:30 but some worked into the wee hours of the morning), we opened a grand exhibit on 40 years in Botswana on the 22nd. Outside there is an exhibit on transport with model cows and a horse to pull carts. The main gallery has history, industry, archaeology, ethnology etc. and the smaller Octagon is devoted to Tourism, the fastest growing industry in Botswana. There are six sections based on ecological regions and much of the work fell on our natural history division. Gcwihaba, a National Monument centering on caves was built by our taxidermist, Motuse, and topped with a stuffed owl. Other exhibits are Tsodilo with its rock art (a huge rock slab with painted termites was drug in),the Okavango (with a hanging dugout over a stuffed crocodile), the Makgadikgadi Pans featuring baobabs, the dunes of the Kgalagadi with melons and tubers, and Moremi Gorge with vines of Mosata and packets of its dried fruit which is being marketed as a meat substitute.

That afternoon the Heaths ( a retired British couple) presented their work on the plants of the Selinda Reserve. They have fantastic pictures of each plant and will publish their results both as a book and a CD. On the 26th I presented a talk on "Botswana - Now and Then". This phraseology was chosen to emphasize the fact that although Polly and I visited Botswana in 1966, we have not been here the whole 40 years. Again the emphasis was on tourism - pictures from 1966 and 1969 when we were tourists here coupled with pictures in recent years taken by our stream of visitors. The government "Daily News" co-operated by coming out with the headline "Tourism spins billions". This was accompanied by a picture of cows grazing on the lawn at the Grand Palm which was titled "uninvited guests".

The next evening there was a launching of "Masire - very brave or very foolish?; memoirs of an African Democrat"2007, MacMillan, Botswana; P165 or about $25). I managed to get a copy and have him sign it. The book is probably not very interesting to most (a lot of local politics and economics), but it is interesting to see how a farmer and teacher became president and then retired to become a statesman leading trips to Rwanda to investigate genocide and to the Congo to bring warring factions to the conference table. I was personally interested to learn that he had started Seepapitso Secondary School at Kanye where I taught in 1969. There were other books launched during the independence celebrations (the Council of Churches produced "Ecuminism in Botswana", there was yet another book on the Khamas, and there was a history of sports in Botswana), but we missed those launchings.

The celebration at the National Stadium on the 30th was almost an anticlimax (we watched it on TV), and the visitors at the museum have thinned out (the exhibit is on until the end of the year), and once again we are settling down to "normal". But not for long - more to come!

Former Pres. Q.K.J. Masire signing his book

FERRY 1969: Polly and Ken Weeks crossing from Zambia to Botswana.I did the cartoons: Polly is the parrot, Ken is the Ent (we were reading The Lord of the Rings), I am Harvey (as in the play by Mary Chase made into a film starring Jimmy Stewart), Diana Talbert is the ghost and Jon Binns is the Gnome. The 5 of us bought the Land Rover in Malawi and set off to tour the world. We stopped in Botswana. Jon has been here ever since.

FERRY 2006: Our little white car crossing from Botswana to Zambia

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