Mmegi Blogs :: Recreational life in early Gaborone (Part 1)
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Monday 22 January 2018, 00:00 am.
Recreational life in early Gaborone (Part 1)

Unfortunately little is known about the social and recreational life of the people who lived in and around Gaborone in the 60 years between 1905 and 1965.
By Sandy Grant Wed 17 Aug 2016, 16:56 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: Recreational life in early Gaborone (Part 1)

Anecdote and word of mouth reports suggest that there was a vigorous, and enjoyable social life for expatriates centred around the police and the public works department.

George Sim’s founding of the Gaborone Club in 1957 would have broken down this compartmentalisation and created a club for all government employed expatriates. But what sort of social life did the locals have? There were no venues where black could meet white in terms of equality.

But whilst the expatriate whites organised themselves to play tennis, cricket, eventually bowls and to swim, the local populace, the lower paid members of the Protectorate Administration employees would for a certainty have been playing football matches against each other and perhaps against similar teams from, most obviously Lobatse, and maybe Mochudi. 

The creation of tennis courts within the Extension 12 Clinic complex, perhaps concurrently with its establishment, generates obvious questions. These courts must have been provided for the employees of the clinic. But tennis is an expensive sport that was known and played at that time only by people from South Africa.

Perhaps those courts were provided for the black South Africans who were employed there although that possibility would have been very surprising.  Our only hold on that scenario comes somewhat curiously from Mochudi which having established its own tennis club in 1965 did play matches both against the new Notwane Club and against the slightly older established Gaborone Club Tennis Club. It


did not, however, have matches against the ‘whites only’ Gaborone Club. The assumption must be that the Gaborone Club drew its members from tennis playing immigrants from South Africa who would never have been welcomed at the whites only Gaborone Club and felt uneasy about joining the new Notwane Club.

Several people have commented on the sporting rivalry, cricket and hockey, which used to exist between the expatriate communities living in Lobatse and Mafikeng. In 1947 the Gaborone Cricket Club sought permission to establish a ground near the old railway hotel (on the site of the present Department of Surveys and Land) but it is not known if a similar rivalry ever developed between Gaborone and Lobatse or indeed any other cricket-playing centres, such as Serowe.  Shem Khan, an early Gaborone settler from Zeerust, and later successful Gaborone trader and treasurer of Seretse Khama’s Democratic Party, used to talk tantalisingly about pre-independence cricket matches in which he played against Gaborone and about the routine discrimination they then experienced.

Unfortunately nothing came of attempts to get him to record those recollections or to pass on his collection of photos into public ownership. Possibly the first sporting club of any kind in the new Gaborone was the Yacht Club which was established almost concurrently with the completion and filling, of the new dam.

Its first President was Dr David Standing, seen here, the government Medical Officer of Health. 


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