Seswaa: Botswana national dish

The cultural significance is that historically Batswana scraped a living rearing cattle and growing crops.

Botswana is self sufficient for its beef. This is epitomised in the growing number of cattle at 3 million to the population of 2.3 million in the southern African nation. Beef is the most significant sub-sector of the coutry’s declining agricultural economy. Botswana cattle are also famed for milk, that can also be traditionally fermented to make the popular and tasty madila, or sour milk.

Meat is traditionally cooked in three-legged iron pots over an open wood fire. Usually the meat is beef but in some cases it can be goat or sheep. It is usually boiled until it falls from the bones and flavoured with only salt, usually by men. As seen in one of the pictures, it is then pounded with a long wooden stick directly from the pot until it’s well-shredded. It is well known that the elderly prefer seswaa as they don’t have to use their few teeth excessively.

It is impossible to attend a wedding, funeral or any kind of event in Botswana and not be offered the mouthwatering seswaa.

#Botswanacattle

#iLoveBotswana

#iAmMotswana

#Shreddedbeef

#Freerange

#Seswaa

#Beef

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Township Rollers of Botswana

17.03.18

CAF Champions League Preliminary Round: Township Rollers (Botswana) vs Young Africans (Tanzania)

National Stadium, Gaborone, Botswana

Operation #fillupthestadium

Township Rollers, the most successful, the most supported, and perhaps the richest team in Botswana, made a call. Batswana responded.

Inside combis, in buses, in cars, in and outside the National Stadium I saw Extension Gunners supporters in their black and white colours; I saw BDF 11 followers in their red and military green colours; I saw Mochudi Centre Chiefs  die-hards in their black and white colours; I was one of the Gaborone United fans wearing the Moya Goleeele’s red and white colours; I saw a lot of other supporters in different colours; A large number had the National Team’s, blue, black, and white outfits.

Rightly so, the majority, the supporters of the day, the ones that the whole Botswana had Proudly United and came to support in large numbers, had the yellow and blue jerseys, the white tops, and the blue and yellow colours.

Of course, in a small corner, I saw the black and green Tanzania flag. And I also saw a handful of cheerful Young African supporters outside the 22500-seater football arena, following the match.

Popa Popa delivered for the nation. Having won 2-1 a fortnight ago at the Benjamin Mkapa stadium in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the Botswana Premier League defending Champions maintained a composure and controlled much of the match. Amid the electrifying atmosphere of blowing vuvuzelas, dikhwaere songs, the clapping and whistles as well as the dancing, the well attended African Champions League encounter ended in an entertaining goalless draw. Therefore, Popa Popa became the first ever Botswana club to qualify for the CAF Champions League group stages with a 2-1 aggregate scoreline.

#tanzania

#botswana

#townshiprollers

#youngafricansfc

#cafchampionsleague

Barolong Seboni: why do i write?

Why Do I Write?

Ehm my name is Barolong Seboni, uhm.. I write because I have to write. I have to write because ehh..everytime when the spirit moves me it enters my body (laughs). And my mind and I am moved to put these words to translate the spirit into words to give them meaning ehmm.. and life really, so I write because I have to.

Track 15, 12 Batswana Poets: Dreaming is A Gift for Me

#barolongseboni

Driving from Roodepoort to Randfontein with our Fathers: A Journey of Self Discovery

On the 23rd of February 2018 I joined my mother and 2 of her siblings, my uncle and my aunty, on about a 5 hour-drive to Randfontein, South Africa, for a funeral.

Although I have lived in nearby Midrand for 6 years between 2001 and 2006; this was the very first time I travelled to Randfontein. The deceased was husband to my cousin. Whose 93 year old father is my mother’s “half” brother.

When I was growing up, I was spoilt to the stories of Randfontein. I was told of the Butchery that my mother’s brother, Ra-Kgomotso, together with his wife, Mma-Kgomotso owned. I was told of the Bar that they owned. And I was also told of the General Dealer Store that they owned. It was barely 10 years after Botswana attained her independence and when poverty was rampat across the coutry, in the mid 70s when my mother and her siblings frequented the mining town of Randfontein.

Eched in my memory is my mother’s vivid discriptions of the delicious oxtails, the fried ox liver, the fried chicken, the yellow cheese, her small hand grabbed on his enntreprenurial brother’s jacket as they navigated the crowded Johannesburg Streets. As well as the catchy South African Tswana accents, and phrases such as: “Ba tlhaga Btswana”, Kena ka mole”. I also remember that everytime they went to Randfontein, when I was about 6-13 years old, they brought back with them a basket of bright yellow scones, the delicious oxtails and the spicy beef stews.

It was fitting that my mother and father travelled to South Africa to buy a stock of clothers, shoes, home clocks, and other accessories just before opening their Borakanelo General Dealer store in 1994. They would spend the night at Randfontein and just before sunrise, Oupaki, son to my mother’s brother, my late cousin, would drive them around the complicated Jozi streets.

From Botswana to South Africa and back they were usually driven by the late Rre Tebogo Sebonego, Rraagwe Kitso, who was husband to my mother’s sister, Mmaagwe Kitso, my aunty. The other times they were driven by Rre Mokwadi Mogojwa, Ra-Tlhomamo, son to the late Rre Hologang Mogojwa, who was my fathers uncle, brother to my father’s mother.

What I loved of this trip to Randfontein was that, I represented the next generation from “Btswana” at the funeral. For the 3 siblings I was with, Randfontein is part and parcel of their identity. Perhaps, this was a significant moment in my life in explicitly acknowleding the vital role Randfontein has played in shaping and reshaping my mother and her siblings lives, my life.

Just after crossing the Ramatlabama Border Post into South Africa, my mother fondly narrated that when my late father was a miner at Roodeport, perhaps sometime in the mid-80s, the deceased, Mr Eric Tlhapane, affectionately known as Bra E, who originated from Bethane, and was now residing at Randfontein, once drove to fetch my father from the nearby Durban Deep Mine city to join my mother and her siblings in Randfontein for a funeral. I was happy when I heard this revelation. This was, perhaps, a validation that I just had to be there. Although I did not share this story with one of the deceased’s sons. It was an honour and a privilege to be able to shake his hand and reconnect, relive and probably continue our fathers’ drive from Roodepoort to Randfontein.

L-R: Kgomoso; yours trully; Rre Mokhine from Bethane (cousin to the deceased); my aunt Lillian; mama; Ra-Kgomoso.

The morning of the funeral.

Photo by my uncle Willy, 24.02.18

Raophethekga: The poet who charmed The President

20.03.18, Ko Kgosing, Kanye, Botswana

On 18.02.18, while in transit, I met the Mafhikana Councillor Mr Chabalala at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, Ethiopia, who is also the Deputy Chairman of the Southern District Council. We briefly talked and continued the conversation at the Victoria Falls International airport in Zimbabwe. I mentioned the well known poets of Molepolole, I also asked him about poets in Kanye, our home village. Without thinking he dropped one name: Raophethekga.

On 20.03.18, this prolific poet charmed me without uttering a single word. It was his 2 piece outfit that did all the talking. The pants and waistcoat are made of plaid blanket, known as tjale, that is iconic of Batswana women and are usually worn on special occasions: weddings, funerals and Kgotla meetings.

Of course, politely, I asked for a picture and complimented him on the outfit pattern. It’s worth pointing out that I did not have a clue that the gentleman was a poet. I did not have a clue that this was the Raophethekga Mr Chabalala talked of.

About 2 hours later he serenated not only the multitudes gathered but also President Khama who was about to give his farewell speech at the Kanye Main Kgotla. From his 6 minute wordplay, the plaid blanket 2 piece wearing praise poet skillfully begged the President for only 2 cows, “marobanyana a le mabedi”.

Having received mouthwatering gifts from the Bangwaketse: a cheque of about P80,000, loads of chickens, bags of maize and sorghum, a number of horses, goats, as well as 42 cattle, among others, President Khama obliged to the poet’s entertaining plea. The President’s kind gesture was welcomed by deafening cheers, ululations, clappings, and whistles of the crowd that included my mother, my aunt, my grandmother, my aunt’s son Shadrack, my cousin, my paternal cousin Rodgers, as well as Mr Chabalala and myself.

“Tautona ke boka ke phaphalala magalapa

E se re go mpona ko Taueshele

Ke eme hela ko Taueshele

Ga ke a kganela sepe,

Ke disitse metshotelo ya meraka ya batho

E e fetang ha thoko ha moraka waka pula e nele

O nnele marobanyana a le mabedi Mokwena

E sa le e rile ka bua le Mokwena

Mme e sa le ke boile ke lapile megano

Bogolo wena o nthapelele”

#Khamasfarewell

#Raophethekga

#iloveBotswana

#iAmMotswana

#Kanye

#Kgotla

#Mmoki

“E běchelwa, e santse e běchělwa kgomo”: Ox racing in Bechuanaland

“E běchělwa, e santse e běchělwa kgomo. E ne e re basimane ba le mo morakeng, bannabagolo ba le mo morakeng, basimane ba tshotse kgang, ba ipoka ba ntse ba re: monna kgomo yaaka e ka sia ya gago! Ke na le kgomo e nngwe jaana e le phatswa gote Scotch jaana. Kgomo eo e ne e taboga lobelo mo nne ke ipotsa gore a ke phologolo kgotsa jang!

… Monna tsatsi leo a bo re běchěla golo gate Dipitsana ko masimo ko Dithataneng” – Rre Mogotsi of Gasita

(We placed bets on it, when we could still place bets on cattle. It was at the cattle post when boys and old men were in heated debates: “my ox is faster than yours, my ox is faster than yours”. I had a black and white ox that was just too fast I wondered whether it was an animal or something else!

That day we had bet for the oxen race at Dipitsana lands of Dithataneng.)

The cultural significance is that traditionally Batswana scraped a living rearing cattle and growing crops. Following Matjila (2009), cattle, in fiction and in real life, represents wealth and wellbeing for Batswana.

In Bechuanaland, as Botswana was called before independence in 1966, cattle were also commonly used as a reliable mode of transport. Not only that but also as a form of entertainment during ox racing competitions. Mr Mogotsi of Gasita, a cheerfull slender elderly man, in a high-pitched voice, states that he used to take part in the then well-attended popular cattle racing games. For a smooth ride, the jockey had to wear trousers made of hide instead of cloth owing to the excess sweat from cattle skin. The 92 year-old asserted that trousers made of cloth absorbed most of the oily sweat and that made the ride uncomfortable.

Under a shade of tree, he also added that the cattle racing champion was symbolically given a sorghum-head, amid the cheering crowd, by a chosen lady standing at the finish line. The sorghum-head waving winner was fittingly rewarded with “maukana a madila”, or sacks of home made fermented milk, similar to plain yorghut.

#Botswanacattle

#iLoveBotswana

#iAmMotswana

#Oxracing

#Mabele

#Madila

18.03.18. A scenic bus journey through the villages of Mogobane, Ntlhantlhe, and Ranaka

Under the scotching sun, the short and well-built driver stepped on the gas of the Mercedes Benz Sprinter out of the Gaborone Bus Rank on a Sunday afternoon at exactly 12:03. He left a greyish cloud from exhaust fumes behind, to the murmuring and whistles by most hawkers, mostly seated on white plastic chairs under brightly coloured shades.

Leaving the cloud of smoke behind, I was busy enjoying a frozen Guava Cooltime that I had bought for 3.00 Pula from the engaging, and eloquent hawker selling “chicken pies, russian pies and cool time”. I particularly enjoyed the tempting aroma of the chicken and russian pies.

We passed Game City Shopping Complex on the main Lobatse Road and went past the famous Kgale Hill, just when I was sucking the last juices of the popular “temperature control” quencher, as praised by the tempting hawker. It was at Kgale Hill that I was reminded of the baboons that almost snached my tasty Madombi le Nama (dumplings and beef) a few weeks ago from one of the stalls overloking the Game City Taxi Rank.

On my right we passed Metsimaswaana, judging by the signpost, a river. We then passed a white and blue signpost saying “Welcome to Eden City”, a stone throw away from the singnage was a white and blue police van, just under a tree. At 12:29, we passed another signpost, perhaps, Botswana’s Disney Land, Lions Park Resort, and it was there that I was spoilt to a herd of cattle with heads down, amid lush grasslands of trees, with one or two frisking their tails.

Just after Lions Park, still on the Lobatse Road, I saw yet another signpost that read: “Crocodile Pools”, next was a flock of goats meandering through more trees and scrubs. I particularly enjoyed the melodious bell sounds emanating from around the neck of one black goat with horns.

Closer to the livestock were about 6-7 men, most in blue overalls with shiny green reflectors, one had orange overalls, some were holding some shiny long thin metals, but not pipes. The other man was seated, had something that could be likened to what one of the 2 gentlemen in navy pants and bright green jackets and white caps was looking through ealier just by the white and blue parked van. Heaps of soils sorrounded them, on the right side of the road were bags of cement that appeared to have been lined up strategically on the to be paved road, I reasoned. Further ahead were yellow monster vehicles, I think 3.

“Police 11 vs Centre Chiefs? Today? What time?” Asked the Sprinter Conductor.

“Ee, gompieno, ka 3” replied the driver.

“That is a big game, a proper football match.” Concluded the Conductor.

At about 12:49, we made a right turn at the Mogobane signpost. Driving through the picturesque village; on my right I saw yet another heard of cattle, just behind the grazing animals was an elderly man on foot, lifting up a black bicycle over a small heap of termite moulds.

As the white Sprinter, with blue plate numbers, stopped for one gentleman. On my right I saw a military green tent in one homestead and next to the tent, under shades of trees the yard was crowded with people, some in suits, others in different bright dresses, red, yellow, pink, etc. From the road, I could not see exactly what they were doing, but judging from the quite looking atmosphere that is unusual to Botswana weddings, I concluded that they had earlier buried their loved one. As I reflected on my own mortality, pleasing to the eye were the magnificent hills of the village, beyond the tent and other home yards, mostly with corrugated iron roofing.

While I was still admiring the lush green hills, my heart almost stopped as the stunning, almost overflowing Mogobane Dam peacefully greeted me. Just when I waved back, perhaps twice, one for the dam and two for the green hills providing a picturesque backdrop to the flowing water, the Sprinter driver, wearing a navy t-shirt, stepped on the gas. On the other side of the road, a few cattle await to cross the road to join a score of others by the edge of the dam for their, perhaps, ritual temperature control session.

On my left I could see a large number of people standing uder shades of trees, about 4 or 5 cars parked nearby. A number of well kitted young men were chasing a ball on foot in the grassless pitch. Nearby, yet again, a heard of cattle was grazing.

“Dumelang batsadi” said the the gentleman as soon as he sat down, just in front of me.

Approaching Ntlhantlhe village, according to the signpost, I saw two women strolling on a footpath through a bush; with one under a bright red umbrella to shield herself from the strong sun rays. I was reminded of my sister’s black umbrella. I saw an elderly lady, bending over some washing, the line almost full of sparkling white mini-towels. Grinning children running around barefooted in a cloud of dust just outside the sparkling mini-towels yard. The driver had to make a sudden stop as a couple of calves decided to ignore their mother’s orders, who were enjoying the Botswana grass just by the edge of the tarred road.

“O e tshware mo stopong” (wait for me at the next stop please), screamed the lady behind me, just when we approached a green and white signpost indicating that to the right was Lekgolobotlo. She had a brownish headscarf known as tukwi, identical to my mother’s, and was wearing a grey jacket and on her lapel was a small star that was inscribed with the letters Z.C.C and swatches of green and black cloth underneath the five-point silver star. I was reminded of my father’s cousin’s exact badge from the very same village of Ntlhantlhe. As the bus made a brief stop I opened the window and I was spoilt to the sweet melody of chirping birds, and from a distance I could hear a dog barking. In the nearby yard a red Massey Ferguson tractor, and not far from it I saw cups and plates upside down atop a pile of bricks.

As soon as we dropped the ZCC lady and the smartly dressed elderly gentleman, we passed green fields of what appeared to be foot high of Maize, perhaps Sorghum, drought-resistant historical staples in Botswana. We continued the journey and under a tree a family of donkeys were resting. Just after the hand written Boiteko CJSS signboard, we turned into Ranaka. At the stop, on the right I saw the peach painted tiny house with bold letters: Mme Nkokodi’s Tuckshop. I saw birds feeding from a silver dish that appeared to belong to a brownish dog layzing just by the tuckshop. We overtook a quartet of donkeys pulling a cart driven by a young boy of about 15, next to him was another of perhaps the same age. The two were laughing with great joy under the clear blue skies.

Immediately after the tuckshop and the two boys and four donkeys, in one spacious home yard, was a gentleman who was cutting hair of one seated gentleman, next to the them was a blue empty crate of the popular cartons of Chibuku, and a potable radio atop. I gazed around and could see that, perhaps, similar to my home village of Kanye, and even most parts of Gaborone, most dijarata, or home yards, had an outdoor pit-latrine toilets, a few not painted, some not even plastered. And next to one toilet was a wheelbarrow and a zinc bath tub facing down, and both the wheelbarrow and bath tub colours matched that of most toilets.

And at another stop, 2 elderly women’s journey ended. None of the people murmuring at the bus stop got on board the approximately 25-seater mini-bus. As we made a right turn out of Ranaka village to the final destination, there were 6 people left inside the bus: including the short driver and the talkative conductor who was wearing a pair of black jeans, and a long sleeved grey t-shirt, he had a pile of Pula notes in his right hand. We continued the journey for about 3 minutes before making a right turn and immediately after the turn, on my left, I saw a red, white and black cattle signpost.

We then proceeded with the journey up to a circle or roundabout, that had the well known, the well received and the countywide celebrated Botswana 50 blue, black and white mounted sign. Just before the circle was a clearly visible white letters of, A10 Jwaneng Windhoek, on a green signpost.

For a second I was reminded of Botswana’s gem-quality diamonds. I was reminded of the nearby Jwaneng Diamond Mine. And some of my uncles who had worked there. I was also reminded of my cousins who currently work there. I was reminded of the 2013 inspirational relocation of De Beers sales function from upmarket London to dusty Gaborone. Of course, I remembered that I was long told that Windhoek was German. Yes, I was reminded of the Herero women with their bright Victorian style dresses and huge hats as well as the Nama people of Namibia that the German immigrants terrorised in their own land. Of course, I was also reminded of the great Nama people of Lokgwabe and how they actually ended up in Botswana. I was reminded of the plunder of colonialism and imperialism and how it have shaped and continues to shape society. And I half-smiled when I was reminded of the 30-minute not so polite private interrogation I faced at the Frankfurt International Airport sometime in 2012 when I was in transit to Prague, Czech Republic. I wondered what exactly am I doing to “empower” my unborn child? Perhaps simply documenting this soothing journey of tranquil beauty is one of the limitless ways. This is for you daughter!

After the BOT50 circle I saw a group of young people who appeared to be changing one of the wheels of the 2 cars parked just off the road. One of the white cars appeared to be a Mercedes Benz.

At 13:33, we made a right turn into my natal village of Kanye: the final destination.

At about 13:38, the driver switched off the ignition at the Kanye Bus Rank, located just in front of Mongala Mall.

“We are leaving at 14:45” said the grinning Driver, and just after looking at his watch, the yawning Conductor continued recounting a bundle of notes he was holding.

The total cost of the journey was 24 Pula. P21 for the bus fare, P3 for the “temperature control” deep-pink Cool Time.