A Gaborone West police officer who has inscribed a swastika on the canvas of his Colt Rodeo vehicle, says he does not see anything wrong with the symbol.
The swastika is a symbol associated with the German Nazis. The police officer said he painted the swastika on the vehicle for decorative purposes. He said he is aware of the history of the symbol but does not find it offensive. However, the sub inspector said he would be willing to remove the symbol if people complained.
He said his vehicle has never attracted curious stares. "You are the first person to ask about the symbol," he said.
An expatriate University of Botswana (UB) History lecturer, who did not want to be named, said in Botswana or any other Southern African country, it would be in bad taste and a poor political judgement to use the swastika. The swastika, he said, is associated with Adolph Hitler and it also reflects a bad human value.
According to information sourced from the American-Israel Cooperative Enterprise, while commonly associated with Nazi Germany, the swastika symbol is more than 3,000 years old. The term "Swastika" was originally the name for a hooked cross in Sanskrit, and swastikas have been found on artefacts, such as coins and pottery from the ancient city of Troy.
Not only are the swastikas associated with ancient Troy, the symbols are found in cultures such as Chinese, Japanese, Indian and southern Europe. By the Middle Ages, the swastika was a well-known symbol and had many different names, depending on the country. In some cultures, such as in ancient China, the symbol is turned counterclockwise (sauvastika).
Throughout its history, the swastika represented life, sun, power, strength and good luck. In the early 20th Century, it was still considered a positive symbol. During World War I, it was found on shoulder patches of members of the American 45th Division and the Finnish Air Force. Only after the Nazi period did its connotation change.
German nationalists chose to use the swastika in the mid-19th Century because it was associated with the Aryan race and Germanic history.
At the end of the century, German nationalists used the symbol on periodicals and for the official emblem of the German Gymnasts' League. By the 20th Century, it was a common symbol used in Germany, representing German nationalism and pride. Swastikas were also used in anti-Semitic periodicals.
The swastika officially became the emblem for the Nazi Party on August 7, 1920 at the Salzburg Congress.
Describing the new flag in Mein Kampf, Hitler said the swastika symbolised the victory of the Aryan man. Today, the symbol is mostly associated with Nazi, Germany, the Holocaust, neo-Nazis and other hate groups.
Because of the Nazi's flag, the swastika soon became a symbol of hate, anti-semitism, violence, death and murder.