July 2010

The Department of Political Science, with the assistance of the Division of International Studies & Programs at Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK), is pleased to introduce its Botswana Program - a unique joint partnership between TAMUK and the University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana.

The Program is being directed by Dr. Nirmal Goswami, Professor of Political Science, TAMUK, and co-directed by Dr. Leapetswe Malete and Dr. Maitseo Bolaane, University of Botswana.

The Program will include twelve students traveling to and staying in Botswana from July 7th through July 23rd, attending classes at the University of Botswana, and visiting multiple sites through field trips within Botswana. Areas of focus include history, politics, economics, culture, health, environmental policies, etc., with reference to both Botswana and Southern Africa.

This blog will document our experience. You are welcome to post comments.

You are all invited to cyber travel with us as we learn about the unique and beautiful country of Botswana!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The San of Botswana

Over the course of my five days in Gaborone, I have liked what I have seen. The city is vibrant, the people welcoming, and the food satisfying. There is never a time to for rest in a place this lively. I have been warned, however, of a somewhat sorrowful side to the success story that is Botswana. It is a narrative repeated worldwide and it is the tale of the San (known as Bushmen in the west) minority and their struggle as an indigenous people.

Dr Maitseo Bolaane of the University of Botswana Research Centre on San Studies has made us aware that the San are very much akin to the Native Americans or Aborigines of the US and Australia respectively. Marginalized by the main Setswana-centric political environment of Botswana, their living conditions are poor compared to the remainder of the population. Also, their economic opportunities are limited by their Kalahari Desert location. The government is often more of a hindrance than a help, forcing the San off of lands for a game preserve in 1997 and 2000 and providing poor educational facilities through Botswana’s Remote Area Dwellers Program. The San have had little success politically since their voting patterns are often influenced by the big farmers who employ them. There is no San Member of Parliament or major organizations representing San interests.

And yet, ironically, it is the San who are pushed to the forefront of tourism promotion programs as representing the exciting, indigenous, and exotic side of Botswana.

Botswana is a wonderful country and I have yet to experience even a fraction of what it has to offer, but perhaps in its quest for development and unity (to avoid the fates of many of its neighbors), some of Botswana’s most beautiful aspects have been sacrificed at the altar of stability.

Anthony F

1 comment:

  1. Most interesting. I had no idea how diverse this small country is.