A group of young experts have reportedly submitted an ambitious plan to revamp Gaborone City Council’s headquarters and surrounding areas. The plan would create an artsy downtown area out of the Main Mall, the area under the silhouette of the new CBD’s more corporate uptown aesthetics. It is a highly ambitious and cutting-edge plan and some would say a nod to the local creative industries and heritage sector. As the city council prepares to consider the proposal, we’ve also learnt that the venture will be a public-private partnership.
*Sadly, YourBotswana could not get hold of Botswana Business Weekly’s full report.
This new development will no doubt upset a lot of people who feel the tired and a little rough around the edges Main Mall ought to be left alone and celebrated because it’s some sort of bizarre national treasure! Some people feel that the fact that the mall has barely changed since it was first built lends it some bizarre charm that I personally just don’t see. I totally disagree with that notion because while the rest of Gaborone evolves and takes on a landscape that’s a lot easier on the eye, Gaborone’s Main Mall is a centre that time has well and truly left behind. To me, it just looks tired, depressing and is actually a place I try to avoid. In my opinion, it’s also out of sync with the rest of the city’s strategic centres and as Gaborone grows and changes, it sticks out like a sore thumb, a true eyesore.
When I was much, much younger, even then, the mall was nothing to write home about. Don’t get me wrong, we loved it and while it was cool at that time, now it could desperately do with a thorough sprucing up. In fact, if it were up to me, I’d say tear up the whole area and start from scratch! My husband and I have always said if the GCC were clever about the whole thing, they’d think about re-designing the Main Mall area up to and including the museum in such a way that is sympathetic to our heritage and culture and really make a feature of the curios that line up the walkway that cuts through the mall. The museum could be set up as a cultural extension of the mall. They could set up cute little Tswana type huts from which visitors could sample the local cuisine, arts, song and dance too. I can see it in my mind’s eye!
I reckon this could see Gaborone shrug its boring city image and attract tourists in their droves. Most people who come to Botswana aren’t interested in coming to Gaborone at all because they feel there’s simply nothing of “the real Botswana” to see. The pictures we’ve seen of the anticipated facelift promise what appears to be a futuristic picture of Gaborone, an almost clinical looking Gaborone, which I’m not sure Batswana are quite ready for given how hard most of them find it to embrace change. But whatever the case, the Main Mall does need a massive overhaul. I personally can’t wait to see how it turns out; I’m sure whatever they do to it will look miles better than what it is in its current state.
Reference: Botswana Business Weekly