News about the Botswana Society
Botswana Society Newsletter April 2010
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Botswana Society Newsletter December 2008
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Friday 9th May 2008 Arts/Culture Review page 4
Reviewed by SHERIDAN GRISWOLD
Another surprising and refreshing issue [from the] Botswana Society
The latest issue of Botswana Notes and Records is Volume 38 for 2006. It has just been published by the Botswana Society. The last one, Volume 37 for 2005 was a bumper special edition of 305 pages on Human Interactions and Natural Resource Dynamics in the Okavango Delta and Ngamiland. It was published in cooperation with the Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Research Centre, University of Botswana (UB), in Maun. It and Volume 38 have been edited by Lene Bay.
Botswana Notes and Records Volume 37 quickly became a collector's item, as have many of the previous volumes. If you are interested there is a sale on all the previous volumes from the Botswana Society. (See their web pages www.botsoc.org.bw). It is likely the new issue will also be sought after by people interested in learning more about Botswana around the world, and to complete their collection of Botswana Notes and Records that is now nearing its fortieth year. Botswana Notes and Records is a refereed journal, and in many ways could be considered the premier journal in Botswana, if not the oldest. Volume 38 was produced by an editorial committee chaired by Derek Jones along with Alec Campbell, Sandy Grant, Neil Parsons and Thomas Tlou. It is divided into three parts of nine items each articles, notes and book reviews, plus a brief photographic essay by Sandy Grant on a BTU [Botswana Teachers' Union] event in 1968.
That Campbell, Grant and Parsons all have articles in Volume 38 or "notes" that should not be prematurely dismissed as something inappropriate. Their contributions are all of merit and worthy of careful consideration. The article by Neil Parsons, 'One Hundred Years of Botswana Films and Filming', is based on his keynote address to the Botswana Society's Annual General Meeting on June 8, 2004. Those who think the late Anthony Minghella's No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is the first film ever made in Botswana will have to reconsider their assumptions. Professor Parsons' article is most revealing.
Grant has three contributions in this issue. The first is a descriptive history of the Phuthadikobo Museum in Mochudi from 1976 to 2006. Grant has also compiled a note on the chronology of Gaborone from 1957 until 2006. This is an on-going project intended to encourage you to add to it. Please get a copy of Volume 38 and study these notes. I am sure you will be stimulated by what is there to suggest other notable events that need to be part of a chronology of the city, for example: the University of Bechuanaland, Basutoland and Swaziland; the founding of Maitisong; and the opening of government schools (not just private schools), and so on. You most certainly will see other events that are so far missing from this chronology of Gaborone.
A founder of the Botswana Society, Alec Campbell and his wife Judy Campbell's intriguing note is on the history of their homestead and the old 6,000 acre Crocodile Pools Farm on which it stands, bordered on the East by the Ngotwane River. The land was acquired by Richard Transveldt from Kgosi Setshele, paying half-a-crown a Morgen for the same to the British South Africa Company (BSA). A plate from 1910 is of a German colonial style house overlooking the Metsimaswaane River. It became the official meeting place for the Dikgosi with the Bechuanaland Protectorate Administration, as they were reluctant to travel to the Imperial Reserve in Mafeking. There was a huge pitso when Lord Selborne came to discuss 'incorporation' of Bechuanaland into the Union of South Africa. Imagine orchards, lawns and rose gardens and a glass conservatory filled with rare plants, with water fed from the river through canals. It is fascinating to read their description of the overgrown and run-down property, the process they went through to rebuild the house, a lengthy project, preserving the original ceilings and paintings; some stained glass was repaired, and so on. Transveldt's 'treasure' was never found. The thick dolerite rock beneath the farm proved difficult to penetrate for good water. We also learn about the gift of two lions and the origins of the adjacent "Lion Park".
Other articles that may be of interest to you are those by UB's Christian John Makgala on a time in 1938 when a bid was made to "settle Jewish refugees from Nazi-Germany in Botswana". He has a second article on the history of the link between Batswana, the BNF and the ANC between 1912 and 2004 that caused the ANC in South Africa to abandon its BNF ally.
Ndana Ndana's article is about the Subiya (a.k.a the Chikuhane), a kingdom along the Chobe River, and their oral literature, and little has been recorded so far. Two prose categories are covered: prose and verse. Narrative prose, including myths and legends, fables and tales and didactic prose, including proverbs and riddles in prose. Second category, verse, embraces three kinds: didactic verse, proverbs and riddles in verse; verse lore of tribal initiation and lyric and dramatic verse including songs; and finally the epic in the praise-poems. It is fascinating to read all the customs that accompany these kinds of oral literature. When you think that proverbs and idioms are "highly philosophical and contain the accumulated wisdom of the concerned ethnic group", you intuit the importance of their preservation.
Ottokile Sindiso Phibion, who teaches music in the Faculty of Education at UB has an article on Bakalanga Traditional Instruments. Historically a part of the Shona Kingdoms, the Bakalanga are famous for their drumming. There are friction drums, rubbed by a stick on which powder or wood ash has been sprinkled and the vibrations communicate with the skin and the vessel amplifies it. The many different instruments and their origins are described in detail and there are ten plates. A fascinating contribution. There are other valuable articles, depending on your interests: on the evolution of midwifery, on grazing in Kweneng north, and the distribution and socio-ecological context of the raisin bush Moretlwa or Grewia flava in western Kweneng District.
Rob S. Barrett has followed up Baines' detailed notes to identify the true place of Baines' crossing of the Limpopo River, so far wrongly recorded as east of the border post of Platjen. Baines gives very interesting jottings on his daily journeys, and so the maps of 1877 can be pieced together with description of the land and streams crossed and mapped exactly on the present farms in Tuli Block. Baines had no good timepiece for calculating latitude and ended up about 33 miles too far South East. Baines never crossed at "Baines' Drift". The journey he took to Mashonaland in order to prove himself, after being fired by Livinstone from the Zambezi Expedition, was detailed on the great map published in a book by the cartographer Edward Stanford of Charring Cross Road, London. Other notes cover: the resource commitment of Botswana to fight the war on HIV and AIDS by Gaotlhobogwe Motaleng; the University of Pennsylvania's partnership with Botswana to develop a model for patient care and teaching by Steve Gluckman; the Mafeking Legacy by Quill Hermans explores the impact on Botswana of various people in the Imperial Reserve around 1964; excerpts from the Glyn diaries, mainly on a trip in 1863 through Botswana to Victoria Falls and on foot again in 2005 [edited] by Alec Campbell and Mike Main; a description of the Bessie Head papers at the Khama III Museum in Serowe by Tom Holzinger; and the geomorphology of Makgadikgadi Palaeo-Lake or "Lake Deception" by McFarlane and Eckardt.
Corporate Members [of the Botswana Society] are cited on the inside front cover (for some unknown reason they were left off Volume 37, something that might have irked them). There is a wide-ranging multitude of rich and splendid scholarship on Botswana, something that is well illustrated by the annual Botswana Notes and Records volumes. If you are a member you will get your copy free.
June 21st, 2008, will see the opening of the No 1 Ladies Opera House in the old garage immediately adjacent to the Botswana Society's A1 office at Kgale Siding. The theatre will seat sixty people, and will present an operatic programme for one week twice a year, in June and December--plus other music events ("singing, poetry, guitar recitals") at least once a month. During the rest of the time it will operate as a restaurant.
The project is a collaboration between Sandy McCall Smith, author of the No 1 novels and a leading amateur classical musician in Scotland, and David Slater, an established classical conductor recently retired from Maruapula School, who has for twenty years ran the extremely successful annual (April) Maitisong Festival of music, dance and drama--Gaborone's smaller (and warmer) answer to the Grahamstown Festival in South Africa and the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. The Botswana Society looks forward to its new neighbour, and to the opportunity for festival- and restaurant-goers to visit our office nextdoor and sample and buy our publications and promotional items.
The Botswana Society executive committee is discussing the possibility of holding a national workshop or symposium that will speak to the needs of youth employment. One suggestion is that the workshop symposium should be on the opening up of previously neglected employment possibilities for educated youth in the so-called creative and culture-export industries: advertising; antiques; architecture; arts &crafts; book & magazine publishing; cuisine; dance; fashion design; film; heritage &cultural tourism; horticulture; interior design; internet &web-design; music; performing arts; radio & television; sculpture; software; theatre; video &visual arts. Watch this space for news.
Botswana Notes and Records, Volume 38 (delayed publication for 2006) is currently being printed, and will soon be available free to paid-up members for 2006 at the Kgale Siding Office and (when a new volunteer staffer can be found) at our rondavel at the National Museum. It may also be purchased at these two places and in the Books Botswana bookstore on the UB campus. Our thanks go to Lene Bay for the editorial work and print supervision, and to ANTALIS BOTSWANA for donating the paper for Volume 38. Volume 39 is now under active preparation.
Item 2008-01The Botswana Society greeted the New Year with successful emergence from a period of financial and administrative difficulties, during which the office had to be left unstaffed, important matters were left unattended, and cheques were left uncashed. The confidence of members and subscribers was severely tested. Our recovery is thanks largely to the efforts of Derek Jones, who worked indefatigably to put things back into order until he was himself reduced to a hospital bed. Our sincere thanks go to him with best wishes for his recovery to full health. We are also grateful to Sandy Grant for finding the vital assistance from Gavin Blamire and ANTALIS BOTSWANA paper merchants (P.O. Box 1705, Gaborone, successors to First Paper or PPCB &Wiggins Teape) that has enabled us to print the long-delayed Volume 38 of our flagship annual publication Botswana Notes and Records.
Copyright © 2008 Botswana Society. Last updated 24 April 2010. [PAGE ENDS]