Botswana decided to fight Trump’s comments with humour, with Botswana’s Deputy Permanent Secretary personally launching the #mywaterholecountry campaign
One week on from Donald Trump’s controversial comments about Haiti, El Salvador and unspecified African nations, one so-called “s***hole country” has been using the controversy to attract tourists. The official Botswana government social media feeds have turned the President’s alleged comments on their head, highlighting the country’s tourist hotspots.
Using the #mywaterholecountry, the tweets and Facebook posts have showcased what Botswana has to offer – including herds of elephants drinking, posh city hotels and luxurious safari camps. The posts are sent out through the official Botswana government feeds on Twitter and Facebook.
The government’s official Facebook page currently sports the slogan: “Waterhole country – where we show our stripes.”
Dr Jeff Ramsay, Botswana’s Deputy Permanent Secretary responsible for government communications, told The Independent that he started the social media campaign as “one way of turning lemons into lemonade”.
“I was in my office on Saturday loading the Facebook page when the initial post idea came to me,” he said. “So I put together the post, which I could tell from the immediate reaction was a hit. I then decided to push the hashtag as an alternative to #mys**tholecountry, which I had monitored.”
He began sharing photos of Botswana waterholes with the hashtag #mywaterholecountry. Soon, he settled on one of zebras at a waterhole to head up the campaign. The zebra is the national symbol of Botswana, and “showing our stripes” is a local idiom.
The idea has gone down a storm with social media users from Botswana and around the globe following in his footsteps.
“It was meant as local humour, but it has received positive response from other folks on the continent and beyond, including the United States,” said Dr Ramsay.
“As the message spread globally it became an opportunity for us and others in Africa to say something of who we really are.
But there’s a serious point behind the memes,” he told The Independent.
“Humour is but one way of dealing with the situation,” he said. Botswana is thought to be the first government that demanded an apology for Trump’s statements, and summoned the US ambassador to explain the president’s behaviour.
As for his US counterparts, there’s been no reaction to the #mywaterholecountry campaign.
“The US government may speak for themselves, but what I can say is that there was no denial, clarification or apology for the statement when we released our own statement and subsequently associated ourselves with the rest of the Africa Groups strong response at the UN on Friday,” Dr Ramsay told The Independent.
The Botswana government currently has 335,000 Facebook fans and 153,000 Twitter followers. As the campaign continues, you can expect that to keep growing.
Images courtesy of BW Government Facebook page.