The pictures featured are of the construction of the ‘old’ Maun bridge. I’m sure you will recognise it from the images. The European gentleman in the photograph is Viv Sampson of the PWD (Public Works Department) who built the bridge. I have no idea who the gentleman is on the mokoro.
This bridge is also special to me as my father taught me how to catch fish here. It was not a successful day, we were on one channel, and there was another Maun resident on the other. He was pulling bream in constantly, while we only managed to catch one very small fish and tangle the fishing line. After a while, he suggested we should swop channels so I would have a chance to catch something, only for the bream to swop channels at the same time! Maybe the bream didn’t want me to learn how to catch them!
I visited Maun recently and had a few hours spare, so I took my partner for a walk to the bridge. There was a father and son on the bridge, the father teaching his son how to catch fish. That was a special moment for me, as it seemed that the bridge was connecting the current generation to the older generation.
The town people would sometimes meet at Hippo Pool on a Sunday to swim and picnic. To avoid any problems with the hippo or crocodiles, one of the hunters would climb the tree with a rifle and case of beer to keep watch!
Before the bridge was constructed, this is how cars crossed the river!
River Crossing 1 – This video is of a typical river crossing before bridges were built. It was always great fun if you arrived at the ferry crossing, only to find the ferry wasn’t working for whatever reason.
For those who are interested in how a country develops, this is really how it starts. The trip shown was my father, probably delivering police supplies to one of the remote police stations.
River crossing 2 – This video is of a group of Maun residents having some fun down at the bridge, followed by crossing the bridge as it was at the time; not the smoothest road to drive over!
Written by Ian Brooks
Ian is Donald Brooks’ son. His father arrived in Maun in early 1962, leaving four years later in 1966. He was a police officer, trained in the UK, but working in the Colonial Service. His brief on being transferred to Maun was to sort out the ‘w’ element; there was a perception that there was insufficient regulation, particularly the hunting of the wild animals, and his task was to bring this under control.
Ian and his siblings were children while in Bechuanaland Protectorate/ Botswana; the younger 3 children were born in Bechuanaland Protectorate. The context is a combination of his own memory of life in Maun as a child, as well as various conversations with his parents over the years about the photographs and life in Botswana while they were there (1958 to 1968).