Botswana // 54-project
I'm embarking on a 54-week project wherein I study one Africa country each week. No rules or limits on what I study or seek to learn, just trying my best to learn more about each country. I feel that in African studies the focus is usually placed on certain countries (Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, etc) or certain events (colonialism, the Rwandan genocide, apartheid, etc), so that people interested in Africa might know a lot about a specific region or time, but not have thorough knowledge of the continent. I am hoping to remedy this situation, that I have at least found in myself, by means of this project.
Up this week, we have Botswana! I had trouble "getting into" my project this week...I have been so busy with online classes and work and taking language immersion schools during the summer, this was really quickly done this week. So alas, I didn't have time to dive deep, read books, watch movies, etc. But hey, I did learn a few things!
Known as one of the most stable countries in Africa, it is the West's ideal version of a stable democracy. President Sir Ketumile Masire, the man who is seen as the architect of stability in Botswana, actually passed away this week at the age of 91. He was president from 1980 until 1998 and helped see to peace initiatives on the continent, such as ending Mozambique's civil war. He stood up to apartheid and, from what I have read, seems to have been able to navigate the tricky waters of national and foreign policy within Africa, discovery of the richest diamond mine in the world, without sacrificing his morals and ideals. Sir Ketumile Masire once told the Washington Post: "We have a saying in Botswana: A man is never strong until he says what he believes and gives other men the chance to do the same. I am proud to say without a doubt...we are a strong democracy."
Sparsely populated, only 2 million people in its entirety, with vast lands (581,730 sq km!), Botswana is a top choice for many safari goers. The official language is English, but Setswana is spoken by the majority of the people. There are 29 other languages within the country.
Continuing on the social side, I followed @Botswana because hey, that seemed like the right thing to do. And they led me to this music video, just for World Music Day:
Motswako rap seems to be pretty big in Botswana and I was definitely jamming along to some Dramaboi throughout the week:
Okay, I guess that's enough music for now! Moving on...
One thing I didn't know is that Botswana has one of the highest rates of HIV in Africa, but has also had much success with slowing down the rates. NPR wrote a story a few years ago about this achievement. On the opposite side of health statistics, Botswana has the lowest malaria rate in Africa, predominantly due to the aridity of the area.
(Update 30 Aug) In fun news for Botswana, a new international airport is scheduled to be built by 2021!
Well, I guess that's all for this week! See you soon for Burkina Faso.