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The Pull and Push Factors

Dr Gobotswang’s conviction that the early white contributors to this country were more committed and motivated than those of today is a topic which I tried to consider last week. But I omitted to mention two of the pre-Independence, Mafikeng group, namely, Brian Egner and George Winstanley and Charles Bewlay.

But now, hopefully adding more gain than loss, I want to broaden the topic to consider how greatly apartheid South Africa generated a push and pull factor which influenced so many people, white and black, to head for this country. Generally, the mainly short term immigrants, volunteers on allowances and volunteers with small salaries  – there being no obvious difference  between the two – came from the north, from Europe, the USA and Canada.

The majority was sent here by VSO, IVS, Peace Corps and by the Mennonite Central Committee. 

For many, the appeal was the opportunity to contribute to a desperately poor, new democratic non-racial state combined with an absolute rejection of everything that the two neighbouring states, South African and Rhodesia then stood for.

This was the pull factor. In contrast, a significant number of black South Africans made their individual way here.  None of them could be classified as volunteers because the absence of NGOs comparable to those in the northern hemisphere ensured that each one needed to find a job.  Most ended up teaching.

The pattern in Mochudi in 1965/66 was probably replicated in many other parts of the country where Molefi Junior Secondary School had a permanent staff of six, of whom five were from South Africa,  including the much-missed, Jimmy Moilwa. In other schools, there could be found Jerry Gabaake and Philip Molefi.

Swaneng at that time was a one-off which attracted an extraordinary range of volunteers of all sorts and sizes, some mentioned last week.

  It is impossible to mention all of them or to give credit where it is due so I now mention only Sheila Bagnall, Mike Hawkes, Lawrence and Queen Notha and Ali Fataar.

Information about so many others can be found in Sheila Bagnall’s Letters from Botswana and from the Swaneng website – Elsewhere could be found other qualified couples, the Motsepes and Vanqas, the Lekalakes and Ntetas, Ralph Molefhe, George Kgoroba,  the deported President of the Teachers Union, Philip Matouane and not least, ZK and Frieda Matthews. But now, in an attempt to achieve a more rounded hold on this tricky subject, it is necessary to consider – certainly not omit – the religious fraternity, both Protestant and Catholic. 

In their case, in general, it is unlikely that any were affected by either the pull or push factor.

They came

here as missionaries and to serve their respective churches and communities, an intention and calling from which the Catholics did not deviate. 

For them, recreation, the one and only exception, was permitted, perhaps even encouraged, so that golf playing Fr Leonard Devitt, Principal of St Joseph’s College did not markedly differ from his colleagues, male and female, who couldn’t or wouldn’t move far from their pastoral responsibilities. In contrast, Protestant church leaders were without such constraints so that the LMS could provide one Speaker of the National Assembly, Albert Lock; and two Mayors, Revs. Jones and Bailey, and a Principal of the Serowe TTC, Rev Dr. John Rutherford. 

The small United Free Church of Scotland provided the first Speaker, Alfred Merriweather who must have agonised about dumping his key responsibility, his patients. Did the others have similar concerns?

 In contrast, the Catholics, strikingly, provided no one in similar positions/offices. In 1967, Rev. Lock told me that whilst it might appear that the LMS, which had been here since the year dot, was doing little towards the country’s development – it had Moeding, a small Maternity Hospital in Maun and the famous Book Centre – its real contribution was to be seen as being provided by its leaders, presumably such as himself, and Messrs Jones and Bailey.

In contrast, the Irish Passionists who had been in the country only since the 2nd World War, had the two secondary schools, St. Joseph’s, Mater Spei, St Conrad’s Primary School in Ramotswa, an important clinic at Kgale and was about to initiate a range of development projects up and down the country.

 Despite having people of considerable administrative abilities, not least Fr John Corrigan, not one, served as a Town or District Councillor. Fifty or so years later and the situation is little changed.

The Catholics still run their two secondary schools, the now UCCSA retains a hold on Moeding whilst losing its Maternity Centre and runs the almost extinct, Book Centre. The Dutch Reformed Church has handed over its hospital in Mochudi as has the UFC of Scotland its once famous hospital in Molepolole.

The  Anglicans have gained a Cathedral, but have lost their small cottage hospital at Mmadinare and it now appears that the UCCSA, to date, has still been unable to produce  successors to the Rev. Jones, Bailey and Lock.

Etcetera II



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