Beef with Botswana Beef?

Why is is that in 2018, high quality beef that is imported by the UK from countries such as Botswana is (potentially?) mislabelled as “British beef”?

In Botswana, the mood is generally celebratory when the important market for the country’s beef, EU, is mentioned.

Since independence, the EU (the UK in particular) has been the main beef market for Botswana.

According to the UK BEEF LABELLING GUIDE(BL1):

“Beef imported from a non-EC country for which not all the compulsory labelling information is available…. you must label with the wording “Origin: Non-EC” and Slaughtered in [Botswana]. You should also supply a reference number or code when the beef is cut or repackaged after import.”

While British beef label obviously appeals to the market and is probably more profitable, is not labelling Botswana beef accordingly robbing the country of its “shine”? Is value lost as soon as the meat reaches UK shores?

Or perhaps the question should be: where does beef imported from Botswana end in the UK? Where can one buy it?

Perhaps, should we, as citizens of Botswana, simply be grateful that there is a privileged lucrative EU beef market for Botswana and not ask any questions?

While imported beef is “obviously” -recut and repackaged”, is developing countries such as Botswana not denied their development by not disclosing and positioning them as beef producing countries, too? Or declaring that the tender sirloin steak comes from Botswana will suddenly make it lose taste?




One day I will

One day I will finally visit the Okavango Delta

One day I will visit the northern part of Botswana

One day I will take the long trip to Ngamiland District

One day I will take a long stroll along the banks of Thamalakane

One day I will enjoy a sunset cruise over the Okavango Delta in the iconic mokoro

One day I will sit down with the adept Wayei mokoro polers and together enjoy the Okavango Bream

You see, long before Facebook, Instagram or Twitter reminded me of the beauty of this wetland and sorrounding areas

At primary, I was patiently taught of the delta and fine areas such as Chobe National Park

I was taught that the unique delta form the basis of livelihoods of the local population such as the Hambukushu people whose name we enjoyed repeating

Patiently, I was taught of the Moremi Game Reserve

I was taught of the Mabuasehube Game Reserve

I was taught of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park

I was also taught of the red dunes of the great harsh Kgalagadi Desert

Yes, one day I will ride a horse across the thorn bush landscapes of the Kgalagadi Desert

Perhaps without thinking critically, I took great pleasure in drawing the Mogwaafatshe

My small eyes widened as the strict Madam eloquently narrated how the traditional Basarwa were nomadic hunter and gatherers

While at Tlhomo Junior Secondary School, we took a school trip

The school trip was to the Hyundai Motor Plant in Gaborone

Sometimes I wonder, whether a trip to see how the mokoro was manufactured in the Okavango Delta would have been ideal?

One day I will finally visit the Okavango Delta

One day I will visit the northern part of Botswana

One day I will take the long trip to Ngamiland District

One day I will take a long stroll along the banks of Thamalakane

One day I will enjoy a sunset cruise over the Okavango Delta in the iconic mokoro

One day I will sit down with the adept Wayei mokoro polers and enjoy the Okavango Bream

Photos: Thalefang Charles via Facebook;;;




Harambee: Hip Hop Pantsula

Between 2001 and 2003, in Midrand, a town situated between Johannesburg and Pretoria, while some of us were obsessed with the American Hip Hop culture, there was a unique and powerful voice that kept reminding us to also embrace our own. 

Quite often, I would give my Botswana Government bought expensive CD changer a break and switch to the local Radio Stations. My favourite was YFM. If I remember well, they even had a show titled Harambee, and to open the show, they always played one song called Harambee.

I remember that the soundtrack to my introduction to South African Hip Hop was the track Harambee. Skilfully sang by one Hip Hop Pantsula, shortened to HHP.

Of course, I would later learn that the concept of Harambee, which is in Swahili, means “all pull together”, and it can be found on the Kenya coat of arms. 

Indeed, together with concepts such as Sankofa, Botho/Ubuntu, Harambee is one of my philosophical foundations that I hope will guide me as I navigate my way through this life. 

Thank you HHP. Ke wena Bosso!!




Boipuso: celebrating 52 years of independence


I had a great time. I enjoyed talking to the young radiographer who studied in Glasgow, Scotland, and has been working at Marina Hospital in Gaborone. He has recently arrived in London to study for MSc in Medical Ultrasound. 

I enjoyed my time with a lady, wearing a blue leteisi dress, from Middlepits, who is a nurse in Manchester. Her knowledge of Kanye in really good. She spent 3 years at the Kanye College of Nursing.

I enjoyed my brief conversation with a lady from Kanye. She schooled at Mathiba, went on to study at Seepapitso too. She is here studying for her Masters in Law. 

I also enjoyed interacting with a gentleman who tells me he used to play for Southern Pirates (check photo). I told him my team was Kanye Swallows. With great joy, he stated that he used to strike for the Buccaneers with the legendary Zola. 

I enjoyed my time with a gentleman from Mmathubudukwane. Who also went to Seepapitso. A top chef based in Poland. I reminded him that he is an inspiration. I will take his advice on Wednesday when I attend the Masisi Lecture in Oxford. 

I had a good time talking to one particular gentleman with a guitar on his back. I enjoyed listening to how he chronicled his time in the UK. He mentioned the Kalahari Band. He mentioned Hugh Masekela. He told me of the year 1985. He told me of the time Mma Chiepe was the ambassador. When he heard of my plans, he agreed and re-emphasised that Botswana should be at the centre of what I do. 

This was during the networking event at the Wesley Euston Hotel organised by the Botswana Community in the UK to celebrate 52 years of independence.

6 June 2018

Dear Papa,

 Meya khona! 

 The year is 2018. Only one year and it will be exactly 10 years since you left. I intend to visit your grave in 2019. Can you believe the last time was in 2015? Tanjti Rra! 

 I’ve been meaning to write you a letter. The last time I wrote you I had just turned 33, your exact age when you married the 20-year-old Mama – back in 1974. A lot has happened since the last letter. A lot. Nkgotla and Onyanas have another child, a baby girl, Rethabile. Rafiwa is so grown! Molly has a beautiful house. As you know her, she built it on her own. It’s in Kanye, ka ko Mheelo. Not too far from Leachman’s house. Michaela and I finally left beautiful Scotland. But not for Botswana, we are now in expensive London. I have loads of ideas they scare me. Is that normal?

 I was just home in April. Mma Obanka still lives with Mama; she has been super-supportive to Mama. She is 93. The very first morning following my homecoming, suddenly, she expertly taught me various medicinal plants. I now know of plant power, herbal remedies such as: Masigomabe, Makgonatsotlhe, and Wheatgrass. 

 Ok, before I update you about Mama, you know her response when I asked her of the day care centre receipts she has kept since 1980 and 1988? She reiterated that she made sure that my siblings and I attended kindergarten because she didn’t want to raise shy children. Interesting right? 

 Etched in my memory is the protective Mama, in the darkness, chasing drunken intruders from our home yard when I was a small boy. My favourite was the loud one who peeped through the kitchen window while we were cooking! You remember? She has always been tough!

 By the way, Mama finally retired on the 31st of August 2016. 

 You see I am at a phase where I try to detach myself from selfishly looking at Mama and understanding her only as Mama. I want to also look at Mama as an individual: a woman, with her own mind, her own feelings. That is, her own pain, her own happiness. And not as someone whose sole purpose is to nurture me, Molly le Nkgotla, but also, more importantly, as someone with her own needs and wants. I must be honest: its very strange. Is this what growing up is about?

 You see, I’ve always been curious to know how she was blushing when you guys first met, or when you first proposed. I think I now have an idea! A ke go sebetse: It was between June & July 2017 when I curiously observed Mama around Rre Lenong. You should have seen her! 

 Papa, tomorrow we officially welcome Rre Lenong to our family. Wa ko Ntsweng, Rraagwe Boago le Phillip. You remember him akere? Mme Mma Lenong passed in 2016. He is also Raizer’s uncle. Did I ever tell you about the talkative Raizer? I sat next to him at Seepapitso in my Form Three classroom back in 1997. It was then that he asked me whether I knew his uncle, Rre Lenong, during our very first meeting. As soon as he noted my last name: Kgasa, he associated it with Sabata, his mother’s and uncle’s church.

I strongly believe that Mama’s inspiring decision to remarry is critically significant. I am reminded of inspirational women such as Tona Unity Dow; Mme Edith Mmusi; Captain Atamelang Koboyankwe and Professor Lydia Nyati-Saleshando. Strong women who refuse to be reduced and push society forward through deeds not words. Even though their powerful actions are different, they are similar in that they are all steered towards equality, women self-empowerment, and women rights. And ultimately, reshaping Botswana’s social, political and economic development.

I’m really glad to know that Mama is commendably honouring your legacy by explicitly demonstrating to my beautiful niece, Rethabile, her granddaughter, your granddaughter, that, a 64-year-old widow can indeed remarry, if she chooses to. Isn’t it heart-warming that she will grow up and her consciousness will flourish in such environment?

Ohh before I go, this beautiful picture of me and the couple was taken by the ever-smiling Thwathwa on a beautiful balmy afternoon just last June. Thwathwa has graduated from Mmadikwele. She is 26 now. I asked her to capture this historic moment while we were enjoying bogobe with lotlhodi fused with vegetables, and morogo wa rape. We washed it all down with super-chilled Spar grape juice. Ee, go sena nama! 

I’m gutted to miss tomorrow’s joyous celebration at Lodubeng Village Park. The magnificent cultural park is owned by William, wa ga K. But you know you and I are right there, in spirit, to lovingly cheer Mama and Rre Lenong on. Don’t worry; there will be plenty of nama!

Let me go and call the Bride and Groom now!

Your Son,



P.S. Please, greet everybody for me.

Mme Gaontebale Florence Kgasa-Lenong

Thirty-seven years ago today, just when the dust had settled following the countrywide celebrations to mark the 15th anniversary of Botswana’s independence, I was born to a miner and a seamstress, at the Kanye Seventh-Day Adventist Hospital.

I want to celebrate this special day by telling you bits about the seamstress.

In 1954, around the time De Beers started prospecting for diamonds in the Bechuanaland Protectorate, my mother, Gaontebale Florence, was born on 6 February at Goora Mokhai ward to Rre Sebatlo le Mme Ontefetse Babusi. Ontefetse delivered Gaontebale in her rondavel, the planned home-birth was carried out by a traditional midwife. Abject poverty was rampant in the country around the time, particularly due to the costly hut tax system. The British colonialists had extended the tax to every “native” occupant of a hut. Partly to this, most men migrated to neighbouring Apartheid South Africa to work as labourers in the Gold Mines.

Gaontebale learned to read and write at King George V School in Kanye. She would later attend the Ramatea Brigade where she graduated with a certificate in Home Craft.

At 20, she married the 33-year-old Rre Lekgoanyana Kgasa. And the following year they were blessed with a baby girl. It is from this child that she would be known: Mmaagwe Molly.

Shortly after relocating to her husband’s kgotla, my mother tells me that as much as it was tough for her as my father was away in SA digging gold, she had loads of ideas on how she could supplement the household income. She says she was struck by the unused space in her new home. She then started planting peaches, grapes, lemons, pomegranates and granadillas. Although most people warned her that she was simply wasting her time owing to the infrequent rains, she cultivated her orchard. It was from this orchard that my love for fruits was cultivated.

Further, just outside her new home, was a spacious bush area. According to my mother, the area was used as a thotobolo ya matlakala, or dumping site. And she realised that the site was big enough to hold another building. She had other ideas. It was then that she started visualising a shop there that she could easily run. Although she had written to my father and sensetized him, it was not until about 6 months later when he visited home that she shared her vision face to face. While sceptical, he fully supported the ambitious project regarding the thotobolo site. My mother tells me that it was not easy navigating her way around the application for the site at the Kanye Land Board offices in the 1980s, and also that she was usually the only woman at these meetings. However, she had realised that overstating my father’s salary seemed to make the men interrogating her satisfied and reaffirmed, perhaps to the illusion that there was indeed a man behind the idea. After going back and forth she was finally allocated free land to build and run a business right in her own backyard.

My mother always reminds me of the challenges she faced with my father prior to opening the shop. First, there was a Kgwanyape hailstorm around the late 1980s, that dismantled the whole roofing and part of the wall. To make matters worse the building was not insured. Second, following the storm, my father lost his job in 1989. Making the 35-year-old mother of three the sole breadwinner. Borakanelo General Dealer finally opened in 1994. Her choice of name, Borakanelo, means the meeting point. I fondly remember the countless bus journeys to Gaborone I took with my mother to buy colourful dresses, viscose shirts and wall clocks for Borakanelo.

In 1995, at 41, Gaontebale learned to drive. In her words, one of the most liberating things she has ever done for herself. It was not until the year 2000 when she finally owned a car, the year that BTV, Botswana Television, was also born.

In 1997, my mother opened her seamstress business, this one was right in her home. She employed 4 talented women and they designed curtains, pyjamas, as well as dresses. They also altered trousers, blouses and more. Fittingly, the “go roka” business was conducted in the harabese, the thatched house that was my parents’ first house.

The winter of 2009 is a time I will remember in all its intensity for the rest of my life. The experience of handing my mother tons tissues and seeing her drinking countless bottles of water is deeply affecting and life changing. It was at the time when my sister had gone back to Masunga and my brother was at UB. While her mother was there with us, for me it was a deeply affecting period as I had never seen my mother in such state. I must add that it was that I also became very aware of the significance of my mother’s community: family, church, work colleagues and the community.

I enjoyed watching the Dinaletsana, the Under-21 Netball team, on BTV during the 2017 Netball World Youth Cup with my mother and her mother. As the game intensified my mother urged the girls forwad when they were trailing against Jamaica. She often criticised the forwards for missing open goals. GS, GA, GK, she knew the positions well. “Ha nne e le nna e ka bo ke e nositse” (if it were me I would have scored). My mother was a netball player during her time at King George. She often reminisce of her ball days with great joy.

If there is one thing most people don’t know about my mother is that she is a brilliant storyteller. She can also imitate anyone. She is so good at it I think given an opportunity, she could have been a successfull theatre actor if not a movie star.

Sometimes I wish I could actually see my mother when she was 5, 11, 18, or 25, but I believe that little girl is well alive in her. I am reminded of one cold afternoon in 2017: as soon as she finished her ritual prayer, she carefully reversed the car from her jarata to drive with me around the village. Suddenly, she stopped the car and in a high-pitched voice, greeted two elderly men. She then instructed me to get out of the car. I exchanged handshakes with the gentlemen before my mother took a picture of me flanked by the legends. As we drove away, she told me that she wishes that I had seen them during their younger days. And not only see them but hear them speak eloquently too. One elderly man was her teacher at King George, Rre T.T. Mosimakoko, and the other was Rre M.U. Leinaeng, then a popular Radio Botswana broadcaster. She continued going on and on about the gentlemen when they were younger, mimicking them!

One of my favourite photos include the one from the warm afternoon of 29 March 2018, wrapped up in uniform of the iconic “Basadibotlhe” tjale, is my mother together with a group of married women, from the groom’s family, as they snaked their way into the bride’s family home to finalise negotiations in seeking the bride’s hand in marriage. Waiting, in the home yard, was a large number of married women from the bride’s family, similarly adorned in the blue di-tjale. Traditionally, it is the Patlo ceremony that a marriage is formalized. “Patlo ke yone ke yone”, alluded my mother, on the evening of 28 March 2018. When she was patiently advising me on how to go about taking pictures at the Kanye Main Kgotla and the Bride’s family home to avoid being too intrusive to the ceremony.

I enjoyed watching my mother singing, dancing, and ululating together with other women. Together with my father, they have always gone to a Patlo when I was growing up. To have the opportunity to witness her at one was an honour.

Please join me today as I thank and honour my first country, the first place I ever lived (Nayyirah Waheed), the one that carried me in her body. For giving me life, the basis and opportunities I had/have and most importantly for being a reference and an inspiration to me to do what I actually want in this life. In the words of James Baldwin, my mother bought and paid for my crown, all I have to do is wear it.

Epistemic homelessness: ‘feeling like a stranger in a familiar land’

Media Diversified

Guilaine Kinouani on losing one’s home without leaving

When I was a 20-year-old undergraduate student or so; I lost my home when it was repossessed. My husband and I had fallen on hard times because I got pregnant and; shad4.jpgvery quickly, I could not work due to threatened miscarriages and then, premature labour.

And so, on the day we were expelled, we waited outside for the council to decide whether a) I was homeless b) I had made myself ‘intentionally homeless’ and, c) whether I was entitled to a home. Please take a few moments to imagine this; you are standing outside of what used to be your home; with the few pieces of furniture you owned when you were 20 scattered on the pavement, and; you have in your arms a baby; born as predicted prematurely. You are trying to make sure they are warm. And…

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