Batswana are funny people. When it comes to response to the weather, we are consistent. We cry about every weather condition.
Motswana has a unique way of greetings. After the usual “Dumela…” in hot summer days, immediately comes “eish, letsatsi le! Re sule. Batho ba hedile, ba wa jaaka dintsi…” The conversation is just how much we are being roasted in this heat, how people are just dropping dead from the extreme weather.
In winter the conversation is “se serame se tlile gore bolaya…” A nation ever thirsting for rain and water, when the skies open up, aah! “Pula ke ye bathong, e netse ruri, diwashene ga di ome…”
While one can appreciate the sentiments around the extreme weather patterns, complaining seems to be our second nature.
Yes, of recent the weather conditions have become unbearable.
The conditions have changed over the years so much that we are never sure when to start going to masimo, to prepare to till the land. But I have often wondered what we are doing mitigate against these.
We are a people of the hot land, of the semi-desert, of the Kgalagadi. We are born to, and ruled by the sun. And when the heat gets too extreme, we look up to the skies, and wonder aloud if the sun is falling on us.
The heat waves, the El Nino phenomenon, are now a permanent fixture.
This time of the year, instead of the expected rainfall, we are getting high temperatures. If the heavens open and the rains come, the heavy windy storms come, and in some places followed by floods. Of late it is hailstorms, and cold nights and mornings. We are experiencing weather patters that climate change scientists have long warned about. Industrialisation has, and continues to destroy the ozone layer.
One does not have to be in industrialised countries as the US to know what environmental degradation means, and how it affects one’s life. The health of a people is compromised. Being prone to sinus attacks, I used to find it challenging to visit Selebi-Phikwe, as the smoke from the big mine chimneys would feel like it is hitting me straight into the lungs. Most times I would struggle to breath.
People dropping dead
As we greet each other with conversations of doom, I often wonder what do we do to ensure that this reality does see to our end.
This world is diseased. We have all kinds of deadly conditions such as autoimmune diseases, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, malaria and cancers.
While Africans in the past had little exposure to these life-threatening diseases, we are now the worst hit. Take Malaria, a life threatening mosquito borne disease. Mosquito thrives in shallow water ponds or places in and around our homes.
We can control these by
While the ministry of health recently revealed that deaths from Malaria have gone down, recording 10 this year, we are still at risk. In fact, the World Health Organisation says 90% of Malaria deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa.
HIV infections refuse to go down and the world is still nowhere near finding a cure. With infection, the health professionals have noted that depression sinks in, weakening the immune system further.
Opportunistic diseases set in.
There is myriad of diseases that cling to a weak immune system and cancer is one such. You ask what has all these got to do with climate change. A lot I say.
When Motswana says people are dropping like flies in these extreme weather conditions, there is some truth in there.
With weakened immune system, most times due to these other conditions such as diabetes, we have seen the young and old literally drop dead. ‘Dropping dead’ mainly due to heart attack resulting from diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol and so forth. As we heard last week, more than 400 million people worldwide are diabetic, and Botswana has over 100,000 suffers.
Cancer is the worst immune buster, and one with many legs that sufferers hardly come back from. While the focus is more on breast and ovarian cancers, skin cancer is ravaging nations. Skin cancer mostly is a result of sun exposure.
Even with that knowledge, most of us walk about with exposed skin, and do not seem to take heed of the government’s appeals to wear long sleeved clothes, brim hats, or use umbrellas to protect ourselves.
Water consumption is also a major challenge.
Yes with shortage of bottled water in the shops, and contaminated (or fear of) tap water, many depend on sugar loaded fizzy drinks which not only raise our insulin levels, but also dehydrate the bodies, exposing people to dangers of heatstroke or even death.
As a parting point, maybe our legislators should come up with laws or policies that will direct how we as a people, can respond to the climate change.
Lawmakers can look at working hours for an example.
We know that in summer temperatures are higher from 12 noon to 3 pm.
We can have work stoppage during those hours, especially for the most vulnerable such as those working the roads, in the farms and construction.
At broader governance level, we have to appreciate the recent rise in usage of solar power.
Our streets, in urban and rural areas, are starting to spot solar powered streetlights, tapping into our natural resource, the sun. Kudos!