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It was a BMW, wasn’t it!

SANDY GRANT
Last week I was treated to contrasting reports about recent events in Gaborone which I was unable to attend due to vehicle problems. The first, concerned the Gaborone Show which was described as a total disaster, being very dusty, with few exhibitors, even fewer interesting exhibits and a dearth of visitors.

Maybe it pepped up on Sunday. The other event was the Family Fun Day and Urban Obstacle Course Fund Raiser – I take that official title from the report in The Voice (August 14) – which, I was told, was brilliant, genuine, hugely enjoyable and not at all a BMW affair. The latter comment may puzzle many people.  Our experience may differ but when a vehicle is flashing its lights to warn everyone to move over to the inside lane as it is coming up fast, it is bound to be a BMW. If we meet a driver who is aggressive, devoid of road manners, selfish, and arrogant, he/she will, almost certainly, be behind the wheel of a BMW.  I have no idea what it is about BMWs that attract owner-drivers who so often behave in this manner. Is it something about the car or something about the owners? But what I do know is that for us it is an unusual trip into Gaborone which does not prompt a single query, ‘it was a BMW wasn’t it?’ And to get the almost inevitable reply, ‘of course’. If this little digression has still left you baffled, I will be obliged to repeat the observation that the Obstacle Course Day was, by report, the genuine article, wonderfully low key and totally without arrogance.

If you are still unable to follow me wait until the next vehicle tries to edge you off the road. But where speed is concerned, Oodi, in the last few months, has seen tensions rising while the new bridges are being slotted into place. In the interim, which seems likely to be for the entire year, vehicle drivers, who are obliged to use one or other of the two diversions, are keen to get through the village at maximum speed whilst the residents are dead set on slowing them down, reducing the enveloping dust clouds, and the possibility of young children being killed.  With the authorities – whoever they might be – unable to act, people took matters into their own hands and erected home made speed bumps along the now, main user roads.

This past week, however, the establishment was finally brought into play and a grader, on behalf of the drivers, began to level those minor obstacles and vehicle speeds were quickly increased.

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Immediately there was a reaction with someone placing stones across the road to replace the flattened speed bump.  Ineffectual and easily removed, of course, but an indication that this is August when temperatures are rising. But may I now make a shift from the speed of a vehicle to the totally different kind of speed of a world-class athlete. I refer to Nijel Amos, to his phenomenal achievements and to his recent visit when, bluntly, he told his august welcoming body, that he and others of his mettle, need a great deal more support than they are currently getting. The Weekend Post report said that he, ‘ uttered a tragicomic declaration threatening to ditch Botswana…and relocate (to another country).’ I suggest that his was far from being a tragicomic declaration.

It was a carefully considered statement made directly to the key decision makers that matters cannot go on as they are now. It was also an attempt to explain what he will need in future if he is to continue competing at this level.  His explanation of his very difficult personal dilemma was admirable as was his indication as to why he may be almost obliged to compete under the flag of another country. Those of us who are lucky enough to watch major international athletics on TV will have noticed how many competitors from African countries now represent, Denmark, Canada, the USA, France, the UK – you name it.  We would need to understand that Amos and others who may follow him will compete at the highest levels for only a very short time if they continue to represent the countries of their birth because others, who have changed their allegiance, will inevitably overtake them.

There will be inevitable disappointment should we suddenly learn that he is now representing Germany or Japan. But we should also understand and not condemn remembering that he had the decency to tell us about his unmet needs and the pressures on him. Should he make the change, the pill will be tough to swallow although it may need to be noted that even with the best will in the world, it is unlikely that this country has the capability to bring about the kinds of change that might have significantly altered his situation.



Etcetera II

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