Mmegi Online :: Phillips’ Bushman journey finally published
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Phillips’ Bushman journey finally published

A journey of many decades in the masterpiece of a book going by the title, ‘I’m a bushman and I know my country’ Willie Phillips: his life in the Okavango Delta’ was officially launched on Saturday.
By Tumelo Mouwane Tue 13 Dec 2016, 15:22 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Phillips’ Bushman journey finally published








The 208-page book, launched by Phillips’ widow Anne Clift-Hill and his old friend Martin Phillips at Sanitas tea garden, is a cruise through the late conservationist’s life in the delta in the 1990’s. Phillips passed on in January 2009. Few people knew the vast Okavango Delta better than him. He first ventured in to the swamps to hunt crocodiles in 1958, aged only 22 years.

There, he learnt the bush skills that would serve him well as the first non-white professional hunter in Botswana.

Phillips gained reputation as a competent, tough and quirky person whose his clients returned regularly. He later became a conservationist, championing causes to protect his beloved delta. His first job was as a bricklayer. Then he bought a truck, delivering goods along the sand tracks that passed as roads. With his second wife, he established the first commercial maize farm in the region. In 2004, he became an independent councillor to help the impoverished residents of Seronga, where he lived with his third wife and ran a mobile shop. Phillips touched the lives of many and was widely loved and respected, though he was not without flaws.

The book tells the story of fascinating life, set in context of the times the end of British Protectorate of Bechuanaland and the first four decades of independent Botswana.

The London based author, Martin Phillips is not in anyway related to the late Willie Phillips. He was just a friend to him. Even though he was not present at the book launch, Martin, through an

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address sent through, said the book has been a long gestation.

“This book has been a long gestation. I can remember sitting around a campfire somewhere in the delta listening to Willie tell his stories of the bush in his own inimitable way. Someone said, ‘Willie, you must write these stories down’. He would shrug it off and say, perhaps one day. I had wanted to try and write his biography for more than a decade, but he kept putting off spending time with me.

His life in some ways mirrors the great changes that occurred here during the end of colonial era and birth of Botswana. He helped to build the houses, transport the goods, grow the crops and utilise the natural resources of the country,” the address read.

His third wife, Anne Clift-Hill said the book was more of history than a personal account.

“This book is not just a biography of my late husband. It’s more of history of Botswana. It shows how things were back then in Botswana  before independence.

“He spent most of his time in the delta and in Francistown and his uniqueness is reflected throughout. Some people have a problem with the headline because they think he was not a bushman. Willie lived his life in the wild, day in day out,” she said.

Some who have already read the book compared it to biscuits, the involuntary willingness to take one bite after the other, page to page. The book is published by London based Melrose Books Publishers.

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