Mmegi Blogs :: Independence in Bokaa
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Friday 20 July 2018, 14:06 pm.
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Independence in Bokaa

With the 50th anniversary getting ever closer, it came as no surprise that I should have been twice asked in the last week if I possess photos of the great day in 1966 These annual requests invariably come after the person seeking the photos has done the usual rounds of the three key government institutions, Information, Archives and Museum and come away disappointed.
By Sandy Grant Wed 08 Jun 2016, 16:26 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: Independence in Bokaa








I understood long ago that a great deal of material was lost when offices were moved from old to new. It may also be  that the National Museum has never held any Independence photos. That said, it really is high time that all three come clean and make life much easier for everyone by making publicly known what Independence photos they do hold. It might then become better understood that the cupboard is embarrassingly empty and that something needs to be done right now to put matters right.  One theory which is routinely trotted out every year is that the absence of photographs has to be understood in terms of the absence of photographers. 

The explanation may be comforting but it doesn’t need much thought to realise that it cannot possibly be true.  There would have been a number of official British photographers assigned to cover the event, there were certainly South African newspaper photographers, there were photographers such as Struan Robertson who were specially commissioned to cover the occasion and there must have been local residents, other than myself, who took their own shots which may yet to emerge from family albums.  Many of these now archival photos can be unearthed if the government feels that the effort to find them is worthwhile. Otherwise the situation is going to remain

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unchanged.  That said, my own offering this week is one of a few of the photos that were taken by Robertson in Bokaa on Independence Day. 

The existence of the Bokaa photos may prompt some surprise. Of all the many villages in the country, why Bokaa? In 1965/66 the government initiated a first community development programme under the leadership of Peter Wass. He decided to support the very few initiatives as then existed – and the obvious one being Bokaa where Sister Angelina Rampa was running a small clinic and with some help from Naomi Mitchison, offering the beginnings of a rudimentary family welfare education service.  Wass decided that Rampa and her efforts justified him in rating Bokaa a priority village and throwing in his limited resources to supplement hers. Robertson was keen to record the scene in smaller villages outside Gaborone as well as the events in it.

With already established contacts in Mochudi, it made sense that he was directed to Bokaa which was fairly easily reached.  There, Struan took a number of marvellous, I could even say, exquisite photos of the way that a very poor village community celebrated. Look carefully at this photo, at the clothing, the bare feet, the enjoyment and the setting. That was how they enjoyed Boipuso 50 years ago in Bokaa.

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