Our postage stamps � winning plaudits abroad

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Not all of us will have been aware that over the last 49 years, this country has produced many stunning and stunningly beautiful stamps. As with just about every else during those past years, however, postage has been totally transformed.

Postage stamps used to be familiar to everyone but appreciated by very few. Their subject matter was invariably worthy but rarely attention catching. Those responsible for producing postage stamps, however, were promoting the country long before it dreamt of having commercial attaches scattered around the globe. They were also heavily involved with tourism during the long years when tourism was an almost zero government priority. And of course, they were promoting local subject matter when the government was still uncertain about the purpose and content of education.

But times have changed.  The volume of posted mail has shrunk to a fraction of what it once was and the postage stamp, now only rarely purchased by local customers, has become something that is rarely seen. But as it is seen less here, it is being seen more abroad where it is being increasingly appreciated, valued and purchased.  In terms of the national budget, the sale of its postage stamps is unlikely to rate even a mention. It is still a relatively small local resource. But unlike other more fancied resources, which are slipping down the scale, the un-fancied postage stamp is moving rapidly up. Someone, in another far away country, who, yesterday, knew about this country only because of its cattle now knows about it because of its stamps. The transformation is extraordinary.  But it hasn’t happened by accident. For past years, the few who have had responsibility for producing them had a commitment to produce quality stamps.  There were some big successes. Inevitably there were also some failures. But with the 50th anniversary fast approaching, Botswanapost and its stamp programme, under its new visionary CEO, Cornelius Ramatlhakwane, has hit gold. Take notice, for instance, of this comment.  Quote. Stop Press from the internet. Commonwealth Stamps Opinion. ‘With foreign philatelic agencies currently producing large numbers of expensive, poor quality, irrelevant stamps, it is very pleasing to note that one or two African Commonwealth countries continue to produce some fabulous new issues. My favourites are Nampost (Namibia) and Botswana Post which has just released a wonderful set of four new stamps and accompanying miniature sheet on the subject of African buffaloes. The wonderful art of Ditshupo Mogapi portrays beautifully these spectacular beasts and the P7.80 value, is a marvelous portrayal of a group of buffaloes forming a wall and with their horns as protection, from a prowling lioness. These are excellent stamps which even in these times can still be wonderful works of miniature art. Well-done BoswanaPost.’ Unquote. The country, and indeed the government as a whole, may still know little about its postage stamps. But it does have this winning resource in its pocket – perhaps the only one which has not had to depend on aid, or subsidy.

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