The short version…
The idea of setting up a blog site about Botswana came to me out of the frustration of never being able to find anything beyond tourism-based information on the Internet about Botswana. Any existent discussion forums on Botswana lie dormant and lack interaction, while most websites don’t always answer questions beyond tourism in Botswana.
Through YourBotswana, I want to bring you, friends of Botswana the world over as well as Batswana living both abroad and at home a bit of everything; from factual information about Botswana, answers to questions I would have liked addressed while I was living abroad for many years, reviews of local services, some interesting current affairs, new developments, right through to different aspects of Botswana and life in Botswana.
My aim is for the site to be as useful as it is lighthearted and fun. I hope you all enjoy getting to know and reconnect with Botswana through YourBotswana.
In a bit more depth…
Where it all started
YourBotswana actually started when I left Botswana in 2000, although I didn’t realise it at the time. Botswana is a beautiful country and I am a proud Motswana, but I believe anyone who gets the opportunity to travel should do so. Leaving Botswana afforded me opportunities and experiences and good or bad, they have been invaluable.
Unfortunately, leaving Botswana meant I was out of touch with my beloved country. The “WorldWideWeb” was relatively new and still being discovered in 2000 and social media platforms like Facebook did not exist. The only option available to me was to purchase a phone card every month to call home to keep in touch with family, friends and developments.
I returned to Botswana in 2013 having spent 13 years away, during which time I met my husband. We visited Botswana in 2006 and 2008, but Botswana is a fast developing country and a lot changed in 5 years. Returning to Botswana was a reverse culture shock. Having a British husband meant I had to go through processes I have never done before and I got to see my country through a foreigner’s eyes. The processes were challenging and still are; starting a new life in any country is difficult and we’re learning lessons the hard way. I realise now the need for YourBotswana.
Who is YourBotswana aimed at?
YourBotswana is aimed at not just visitors or those who are interested to know more about Botswana, but Batswana the world over, keeping them connected with their home country. Together we can interact and share all our views and experiences.
Unfortunately, many websites about Botswana are tourism-based, promoting the benefits and destinations Botswana has to offer tourists – safaris, the Okavango Delta, The Chobe, The Kalahari and so on. We also live in a world where travellers hope to discover aspects beyond the typical tourist experience; our professional lives can also take us literally anywhere in the world. Therefore anyone who intends to live and work in Botswana needs to know Botswana beyond being a holiday destination.
Admittedly, there are such websites, but many of the sites I have found are not up-to-date or feature aspects of Botswana that are not necessarily useful to visitors. Some can be confusing as they feature reviews unrelated to Botswana. This is why I have created YourBotswana. I want to promote all aspects of Botswana from all perspectives. In essence YourBotswana serves to educate and endorse the best of Botswana, making “Our Botswana Your Botswana”. In as much as YourBotswana aims to be fun and informative, we all know nothing is perfect and so it will also review the bad as well as the good… hopefully more good than bad.
Giving Botswana credibility
The other benefit to travelling is that you see and experience the world first hand through your own eyes. One observation I made back in 2000 is still very much a bugbear today. There are many countries in the world that are not well known and Botswana is one them. Naturally programs about wildlife quite rightly focus on their natural habitat, but other programs unrelated to wildlife appear to follow the same script.
Top Gear filmed a series special in which the presenters drove across the country from the Zimbabwean border to the Namibian border. I recall watching a TV series in which the presenter travelled the world following the Tropics (Cancer and Capricon), the Tropic of Capricorn runs through Botswana. The popular TV show “The Number One Ladies Detective Agency” was filmed in Botswana. The Norwegian music duo Nico & Vinz, filmed their music video for the song “Am I Wrong” in Botswana.
All of the above portrayed a lesser side of Botswana, the less affluent side. Any viewers with little knowledge of Botswana would assume my country is poverty-stricken; Batswana live in mud huts and donkeys are the popular mode of transport. Never in these shows did you see a built up area or a mall, a stadium or any part of the capital city, Gaborone. I’ve always wondered why?
Why is Africa portrayed as a country rather than what it is – a continent? Why do very few nations within Africa have their own identity? Why are people from Africa called Africans? My husband is commonly referred to as being British or English, why not European? Yes, there are parts of Africa where the level of poverty is high and corruption within certain governments are rife… but isn’t that the case all over the world? I want to give my country its own identity, and show it in its entirety through YourBotswana.
Personal bio… who is Lala?
Lala was a pet name given to me by my younger sister. She was asked as a baby who I was and she responded “Lala” and the name stuck from thereon. My real name is Mpho and I’m originally from Maun, which is in the north of Botswana. It’s also known as the gateway to the Okavango Delta. I left Botswana and lived in Italy for a short time before moving to the UK.
I am a qualified English teacher with a background in journalism and broadcasting, having worked at The Okavango Observer Newspaper (now The Ngami Times) & Radio Botswana. Like many Batswana in the Maun area (especially my generation), I have experience of working within the safari industry. In the UK I held numerous customer service roles both at corporate level and retail and account management at a global examinations organisation. I currently work as a freelance reporter for the Department of Broadcasting Services here in Botswana. You could say I have “life experience”.
I have an English Degree and a Post Graduate Diploma in both Education and Business Management. I also hold Level 2/3 NVQs in Customer Service. Outside of my professional life I am a writer – writing articles for online magazines and various other discussion forum websites. Now I have decided to do it for myself… thank you for reading this page and welcome to YourBotswana.
*Please note, any responses to comments will be made by “Bamselle” which is also me. Bamselle is a pet name given to me by my husband, and a name I never intended to make public… quite embarrassing really. I used Bamselle as my username, which was created before we decided on using “lala” and unfortunately usernames cannot be changed retrospectively.