Readers should make allowance, as in this case, for flaws or blemishes in old photos. But with that proviso out of the way, we have here a fascinating photo of Gaborone before income from diamonds gave it such a massive lift off.
In a very sizeable area, it is possible to see perhaps half a dozen vehicles – the roads being effectively empty. Most of the Mall is still to be developed and there is still no Capitol Cinema. The Town Hall is splendidly isolated and thus easily identifiable – something which it has now lost.
On the northern side of the Mall, the Catholic Cathedral is easy to pick out as are the Gaborone Secondary School and Princess Marina complexes.
The new National Museum can be easily seen opposite the Cathedral whilst, nearby, it is easy to identify the old Parliamentary flats, now demolished. On the southern side of the Mall, in contrast, can be seen just the one civic institution – the Central Police Station together with Trinity Church which are located within an area entirely utilised by low cost housing.
In retrospect, and I admit that the thought had not previously occurred to me, it seems that only three makgoa lived at the time in the area covered by this photo – namely Derek Jones and Alan Butler of Trinity Church and myself, occupying a Christian Council house immediately behind the Central Police Station.
Had the photo taken in the area further to the south it would have included the African Mall and some of the famous Asian owned stores which are probably amongst the very few in Gaborone to have continuously traded during the past 50 year period.
Would it have made any difference to the nature of the new town if Gaborone Secondary School, Princess Marina and the National Museum had all been located to the south with the Police Station on the northern side of the Mall? Idle speculation, of course, because the planners were keen to ensure that the civil service people having houses to the north would have the easiest possible access to Thornhill (just out of picture), GSS and the hospital.
The same kinds of concern seems not have bothered the planners in regard to the low cost housing people for whom little thought had been given other than the need to maintain law and order! But was it deliberate or accidental that the Central Police Station should have been located bang next to what was Gaborone’s one and only premier hotel?