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A Place to call Home

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The high school social studies textbooks I read taught that a Motswana has three homes: legae (a house in a village), moraka (grazing post) and masimo (lands to till).

Gaborone City and other urban centres are places where people go to find work – not to live, and certainly not to set down roots.

Having spent one’s most productive years toiling to earn a salary, clinging on to the permanent and pensionable status, when retirement age arrives, a Motswana returns home to the village–to wait for death.

If you are like Rre Moeng, of Tsalanang, you joke about this inevitability and say you are returning home to finally ‘eat life’.

Perhaps there was a time when this triangular utopia was possible. It no longer is.

Spending twenty years waiting to be allocated a plot should disabuse you of this fantasy.

It is best not to get into the matter of who actually owns land. Is it the ones who are so rooted to this place that they can call no other place home? Or is it in the hands of those who can flit away to faraway lands when times get tough? Like one impostor once said: ‘I use my Botswana passport when it is convenient.”

Claiming Gaborone City as one’s ‘home’ is thought, by some, to be saying you are unsure of your heritage, denying your roots, maybe even ashamed of where you really come from. “No one comes from Gaborone.”

Start with learning how to pronounce the name of this place. At least. Feel the ‘G’ scratch the back of your palate, add ‘ahhhhh’ like a doctor asks you to do.

Sound ‘bo’ like book, the ‘ro’ too, almost. Remove the ‘t’ from nit to end. Ga-bo-ro-ne. Gaberones was discarded in 1969, although some still refer to it as such.

And, please, please. She was never ever Gabarone. These relics of the colonial master have no place here.

The name means ‘not unfitting’; artistically stretched, it says ‘it is well’. You see, Gaborone’s name speaks, if you care to listen.

Call it Gabz, if brevity is your thing. Mageba, will do too, or GC (since 1986) when Gaborone added city to its name.

Some say this city has no face, bears no distinguishing features, hides no birthmark, wears no tattoo, has no identity and lacks soul.

Let us set off from where Independence Avenue begins, traveling east to cut across White City and her neighbours.

Once a source of labour for Gaborone’s growing construction industry, White City mushroomed into a collection of tiny two-roomed structures painted white.

Dikhetene (Place of Curtains), a Potemkin village, was drawn, curtain-like, around it because keeping up appearances matters–especially when foreign dignitaries visit.

But, fun was had in that place. Los-My-Cheri was around there somewhere.

Along the way, I count six churches (there could very well be more). One can only imagine the clash if they were to ring their bells simultaneously.

You cannot miss the Catholic Cathedral on the corner of Independence Avenue and Queen’s Road.

It stands proud and tallest; its steeple visible, as if it points the way to heaven.

Diagonally across from the cathedral is the Civic Centre, previously called Town Hall.

It is said that from the office of the Mayor of Gaborone one could see clear across the Main Mall right to Parliament.

That once clear view has been obscured by new structures. Old buildings that held cherished memories have been razed to the ground, replaced with modern structures—some would argue that they are ugly.

Fortunately, the National Museum and Art Gallery is still standing; within its walls snippets of the history of Botswana’s people is told.

Continuing down Independence Avenue, we leave behind The Mall commercial area and re-enter a residential area, albeit a different type, nicknamed ‘Beware of the Dog’, in Setswana ‘Tshaba Ntsa’.

High walls, remote controlled gates and security company vans are common features in this suburb.

Tucked in that area stands the State House, home of Botswana’s President. Once upon a time it was possible to walk past it.
No more.

But, let us head back to The Mall, to the home affairs and labour office where national identification cards are issued.

I wonder where the people filling the room call home. A variety of languages is spoken: guttural, heavy, light, flowery – none of these are Setswana or Setswana-like.

Two teenagers converse in spoken-through-the-nose-English. A Chinese couple walks into the offices and I am reminded of a Chinese friend who runs a takeaway.

She said she wanted to move away from the White City area. ‘Not safe now. Too many foreigners,’ she whispered.I smile.

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Block 8 nurse challenges Covid-19 test results

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A nurse who allegedly tested positive of Covid-19 during the emergency parliament session has given the Ministry of Health and Wellness up to next week Tuesday to respond to his legal demands as he believes that the test results were fake.

The victim, Morobi Dinao, a nurse at Block 8 Gaborone has made demands that the ministry give him signed results by the person who carried out the laboratory tests.

Dinao was diagnosed at a special parliament sitting in April, his supposed positive results leading to all MPs and those who attended the session to undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine.

According to legal documents from Ndadi law firm, the 37-year-old nurse was admitted at Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital on the 9th of April after he was told he tested positive.

On the 13th he demanded to see his results but was sent from pillar to post and the hospital could not give him the results.

He kept on demanding his results and on the 19th of April he was shown the results through his glass door from outside by one Dr Feledi.

Dinao allegedly asked for a copy of the results but the Doctor said he would revert to him after consulting with his superiors.

He was given his results when he was discharged on the 24th of April.

There was no explanation of the results and the document was also not signed hence the suspicion that they were not authentic.

Some of the things that made him suspicious, he says, are that the specimen submission form that carries his results is markedly from the one he completed on the day of tests.

He says the form does not have the laboratory personnel signature portion yet the one he duly completed had it.

The demands are that MOH should give an account of the delay of initial results.

Dinao’s lawyer, Uyapo Ndadi, told The Voice Online that they are awaiting response to their client’s demands before they can take the next step.

“I do not understand how a doctor can seek for his superior’s permission to give a patient his own results. How do you get admitted without seeing your results and told we are following the instructions to admit you? A lot is questionable in the whole scenario,” said Ndadi.

Ndadi further said he’ll await his client’s instruction before considering any court action.

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No water supply in Maun this weekend

*Main water pipe raptured at Nxaraga

*70% water supply shut down for maintenance work

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Most parts of Maun and surrounding areas are expected to experience a dry spell this weekend as the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) cuts water supply for the next two days.

The department’s head of business, Thabo Ndadi, explained that seventy percent supply of water in and around Maun will be shut down to allow for maintenance of main water pipe to the area.

“This week we discovered that our main water pipe that brings in water from Kunyere boreholes has raptured and thus unable to adequately supply water,” explained Ndadi.

Ndadi further confirmed that they started noticing the leak last month but avoided tempering with it as it was during the lockdown and when the country had just reported first cases of the killer Covid-19 disease.

“Our hope and prayer was that the leak would not become so bad before the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency, but the water pressure has gone down and therefore we have to fix the problem and we cannot do it without temporarily cutting the flow,” added Ndadi.

Seventy percent of water supply in Maun is from boreholes along Kunyere river in Nxaraga area, while the other two boreholes in Shashe and Sexaxa make up the remaining thirty percent.

“This effectively means Maun will be running with a seventy percent water shortage and we are pleading with members of the community to use water with extra care,” Ndadi added.

In fact some areas will go dry for over 24 hours and WUC has advised people to store water for weekend use today because from tomorrow, taps will be completely dry. “Many other homes will get water way beyond the 24 hours, because after maintenance the water has to make a long journey to reach the taps, for some it will take 48 hours or so. In fact the whole recovery process takes seven days so, it may be practically impossible to complete the recovery within 24 hours.”

Meanwhile Thamalakane river has started to fill up, but the WUC water treatment plant in Borolong is yet to start pumping water from the river as they have to wait for at least a month for the water “to be of better quality to be processed for consumption. Right now the water volume is still low for such an exercise but the plant is ready to start operations. Already we have begun testing the water for quality and it not yet where we want it to be,” Ndadi said.

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