Last Updated
Monday 31 August 2015, 18:00 pm.

Another surprising and refreshing issue Botswana Society (2008)
By Staff Writer Wed 02 Sep 2015, 00:16 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: BOOK REVIEW

The latest issue of Botswana Notes and Records is Volume 38 for 2006. It has just been published by the Botswana Society. The last one, Volume 37 for 2005 was a bumper special edition of 305 pages on Human Interactions and Natural Resource Dynamics in the Okavango Delta and Ngamiland. It was published in cooperation with the Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Research Centre, University of Botswana (UB), in Maun. It and Volume 38 have been edited by Lene Bay.

Botswana Notes and Records Volume 37 quickly became a collector's item, as have many of the previous volumes. If you are interested there is a sale on all the previous volumes for P500 from the Botswana Society. (See their web pages It is likely the new issue will also be sought after by people interested in learning more about Botswana around the world, and to complete their collection of Botswana Notes and Records that is now nearing it's fortieth year.Botswana Notes and Records is a referred journal, and in many ways could be considered the premier journal in Botswana, if not the oldest. Volume 38 was produced by an editorial committee chaired by Derek Jones along with Alec Campbell, Sandy Grant, Neil Parsons and Thomas Tlou. It is divided into three parts of nine items each articles, notes and book reviews, plus a brief photographic essay by Sandy Grant on a BTU event in 1968.

That Campbell, Grant and Parsons all have articles and/or "notes" in Volume 38 should not be prematurely dismissed as something inappropriate. Their contributions are all of merit and worthy of careful consideration. The article by Neil Parsons, Hundred Years of Botswana Films and Filming, is based on his keynote address to the Botswana Society's Annual General Meeting on June 8, 2004. Those who think the late Anthony Minghella's No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is the first film ever made in Botswana will have to reconsider their assumptions. Professor Parson's article is most revealing.

Grant has three contributions in this issue. The first is a descriptive history of the Phuthadikobo Museum in Mochudi from 1976 to 2006. Grant has also compiled a note on the chronology of Gaborone from 1957 until 2006. This is an on-going project intended to encourage you to add to it. Please get a copy of Volume 38 and study these notes. I am sure you will be stimulated by what is there to suggest other notable events that need to be part of a chronology of the city, for example: the University of Bechuanaland, Basutoland and Swaziland; the founding of Maitisong; and the opening of government schools (not just private schools), and so on. You most certainly will see other events that are so far missing from this chronology of Gaborone.

A founder of the Botswana Society, Alec Campbell and his wife Judy Campbell's intriguing note is on the history of their homestead and the old 6,000 acre Crocodile Pools Farm on which it stands, bordered on the East by the Ngotwane River. The land was acquired by Richard Transveldt from Kgosi Setshele, paying half a crown a Morgan for the same to the British South Africa Company (BSA). A plate from 1910 is of a German colonial style house overlooking the Metsimaswaane River. It became the official meeting place for the Dikgosi with the Bechuanaland Protectorate Administration, as they were reluctant to travel to the Imperial Reserve in Mafeking. There was a huge pitso when Lord Selborn came to discuss 'incorporation' of Bechuanaland into the Union of South Africa. Imagine orchards, lawns and rose gardens and a glass conservatory filled with rare plants, with water fed from the river through canals. It is fascinating to read their description of the overgrown and run down property, the process they went through to rebuild the house, a lengthy project, preserving the original ceilings and paintings; some stained glass was repaired, and so on. Transveldt's treasure was never found. The thick

dolerite rock beneath the farm proved difficult to penetrate for good water. We also learn about the gift of two lions and the origins of the adjacent "Lion Park".

Other articles that may be of interest to you are those by UB's Christian John Makgala on a time in 1938 when a bid was made to "settle Jewish refugees from Nazi-Germany in Botswana". He has a second article on the history of the link between Batswana, the BNF and the ANC between 1912 and 2004 that caused the ANC in South Africa to abandon its ally.

Ndana Ndana's article is about the Subiya (a.k.a the Chikuhane), a kingdom along the Chobe River, and their oral literature, and little has been recorded so far. Two prose categories are covered: prose and verse. Narrative prose, including myths and legends, fables and tales and didactic prose, including proverbs and riddles in prose. Second category, verse, embraces three kinds: didactic verse, proverbs and riddles in verse; verse lore of tribal initiation and lyric and dramatic verse including songs; and finally the epic in the Bantu Praise poems. It is fascinating to read all the customs that accompany these kinds of oral literature. When you think that proverbs and idioms are  "highly philosophical and contain the accumulated wisdom of the concerned ethnic group", you intuit the importance of their preservation.

Ottokile Sindiso Phibion, who teaches music in the Faculty of Education at UB has an article on Bakalanga Traditional Instruments. Historically a part of the Shona Kingdom, the Bakalanga are famous for their drumming. There are friction drums, rubbed by a stick on which powder or wood ash has been sprinkled and the vibrations communicate with the skin and the vessel amplifies it. The many different instruments and their origins are described in detail and there are ten plates. A fascinating contribution.There are other valuable articles, depending on your interests, on the evolution of midwifery, on grazing in Kweneng north and the distribution and socio-ecological context of the raisin bush, Moretlwa or Grewia flava in western Kweneng District.

Rob S. Barrett has followed up Baines' detailed notes to identify the true place of Baines' crossing of the Limpopo River, so far wrongly recorded as east of the border post of Platjen. Baines gives very interesting jottings on his daily journeys and so the maps of 1877 can be pieced together with description of the land and streams crossed and mapped exactly on the present farms in Tuli Block. Baines had no good timepiece for calculating latitude and ended up about 33 miles too far South East. Baines never crossed at "Baines' Drift". The journey he took to Mashonaland in order to prove himself after being fired by Livinstone from the Zambezi Expedition was detailed on the great map published in a book by the cartographer Edward Stanford of Charring Cross Road, London.
Other notes cover: the resource commitment of Botswana to fight the war on HIV and AIDS by Gaotlhobogwe Motaleng; the University of Pennsylvania's partnership with Botswana to develop a model for patient care and teaching by Steve Gluckman; the Mafeking Legacy by Quill Hermans explores the impact on Botswana of various people in the Imperial Reserve around 1964; excerpts from the Glyn diaries, mainly on a trip in 1863 through Botswana to Victoria Falls and on foot again in 2005 by Alec Campbell and Mike Main; a description of the Bessie Head papers at the Khama III Museum in Serowe by Tom Holzinger; and the geomorphology of Makgadikgadi Palaeolake or "Lake Deception" by McFarlane and Eckardt.

Corporate Members are citied on the inside front cover (for some unknown reason they were left off Volume 37, something that might have irked them). There is a wide-ranging multitude of rich and splendid scholarship on Botswana, something that is well illustrated by the annual Botswana Notes and Records volumes. If you are a member you will get your copy free. e-mail:

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