Nation of copycats

Are we a nation of copy cats or what? It all started in the early 90’s when ‘room dividers’ became fashionable. Boy oh boy, did that thing spread like a veld fire or what? I grew up in an era where very few homesteads (in villages) had television sets and if you had one at home you would be the envy of the neighborhood children.

For those with televisions at home, the black and white little boxes would usually enjoy a prime spot on top of tables, even the television (shop) box itself and for the more creative ones, a makeshift TV stand made of bricks and covered with a piece of table cloth was the choice for many. 

Enter room dividers, all hell broke loose! Suddenly people flocked to furniture shops.  In my hood alone, furniture shop trucks became a daily sight where furniture delivery trucks made numerous deliveries daily. Some good also came out of the room divider revolution as all of a sudden, even the most unpleasant neighbour on the street became a very loving and friendly person overnight. People opened doors to neighbors, cups of teas were shared and for some, suddenly the heat became unbearable and they would leave their doors wide open throughout the day. 

As everyone can attest, in terms of entertainment, Botswana is without a doubt a very boring country. It is also very true that in the absence of some other forms of entertainment, Batswana naturally indulge in three favourite past-times of sex, alcohol and gossip, in that order. As fate would have it, all three have very dire consequences.


Perhaps moved by all this acute boredom, some years back some genius introduced the marathon concept in this country. Until then, for some of us, the closest we had ever come close to marathons was when we watched it on television, most notably the Capetown and Durban marathons. I have never been a fan of marathons, to me marathons are self torture and I am yet to register for a single marathon. But just like room dividers, marathons are the in-thing and before long, even the remotest village in Botswana will have its own marathon because we are such copy cats.

Then there is the new sensation, the beef festival. Like my son’s popular nursery rhyme, ‘monkey see monkey do’, suddenly every village has its annual beef festival! Never mind foot and mouth infested area dwellers and even vegetarians, no one is about to be left out! Turns out not only are we (Batswana) notorious for our relaxed work ethic, our thinking caps are loose on our heads too. How original would it be if next year Maun held their inaugural annual tswii and fish festival, or the annual Phane festival help up North, or the annual bread festival in some other side of Botswana, or even the annual door frame festival in Kanye, now that this doorframe myth even refuses to go away? Weed festival in Kgatleng would be a crowd puller, the list is endless and Khawa is already way ahead!

We lack originality, we lack creativity and we are a nation of copy cats and it is hardly surprising that ours would be the only country with an Altezza dress top. In the olden days, communities held traditional festivals and even then, each festival was unique to a particular community, nobody copied anybody.  A few years ago, in a move that exited the whole country and even gave hope to hardcore traditionalists; the Kgatleng district resuscitated the traditional rite of passage for young women and men, Bogwera and Bojale. Soon there was talk that in other parts of the country, other tribes would follow suit in a bid to uphold and remind ourselves of our lost tradition but as quickly as it happened, the hype soon died. But this was a good thing worth copying.

Because our generation is even impatient to escape the stone-age, about 2 years, some of us were dumbfounded when we heard there was to be a beach festival, of all the places, in Tlokweng! Batlokwa like Bakgatla are very staunch traditionalists, they never compromise on their culture and happen to be among the not so many tribes in this country that are still holding on to their traditional beliefs and practices. I might have missed their entire history, or this was their version of the rain festival? It must have rained cats and dogs in Tlokweng while we slept because now, we woke up one day to the news that there was plenty of water in that village, that there would be a beach party! The idea flopped but it is only a matter of time before the geniuses pull one in the Kgalagadi dessert.

Editor's Comment
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