Republic of Botswana (21/5/05)
TAUTONA TIMES no 18 of 2005
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"For many years, Botswana was the home to SWAPO
CADRES and many other Namibians fleeing apartheid
colonialism at home. Botswana, together with the
other Front Line States, provided political,
material and diplomatic support to Namibian
freedom fighters under the leadership of SWAPO.
This is the foundation upon which bilateral
relations between the two countries have been
built after Namibia's independence in 1990." -
H.E. President Pohamba of the Republic of Namibia
A. Remembering Paul Rantao
B. Press Schedule
C. The Week That Was
D. Statements by H.E. the President:
1) At a State Banquet in Honour of the visiting
President of the Republic of Namibia, and
H.E. President Pohamba's Responding Statement
2) On the Death of Paul Mmolotsi Rantao, M.P. (19/5/05)
E. OP Press Office Forwarding:
1) Response to Midweek Sun Request for
Information on the Abolition of Tirelo Sechaba
2) Official Talks between the Presidents of Botswana & Namibia (17/5/05).
3) H.E. the President meets with German MPs (17/5/05).
4) Address by Dr. Jeff Ramsay at the 2005
International Museum Day Celebrations (18/5/05).
5) Joint Communiqué on the State Visit by H.E.
President Hifikepunye Pohamba of the Republic of
6) Masekela & Mogae share views on culture (20/5/05)
7) Additional notes and forwarding
A. Remembering Paul Rantao:
This week President Mogae joined Batswana from
across the political and social spectrum in
expressing his shock, sorrow and sense of loss at
the sudden death of Paul Mmolotsi Rantao. At the
time of his death he was the incumbent Member of
Parliament for the Gaborone West-North
Over the past quarter century Paul Rantao has
been one of the leading opposition party
politicians in this country, serving as the first
opposition party Mayor of Gaborone, as well as a
Member of Parliament. For most of the period he
has been a leading member of the Botswana
National Front. As a politician and political
activist he enjoyed respect on all sides.
Paul will be further missed for his immeasurable
contributions as a journalist and writer, in both
the English and Setswana mediums. A master
polemicist, his prose (and public speaking)
combined passion with compassion, sharpness with
humour. For two decades, until 1980, he worked in
the then Department of Information and
Broadcasting, initially at Radio Botswana. He
subsequently became the editor of the Daily News
and Deputy Chief Press Officer.
Any appreciation of Paul would also have to take
into account his work as both a labour and
It has become fashionable in some quarters to
lament that our society lacks local celebrities.
Perhaps this is because the definition of what
qualifies one for such status is not always
appropriately grounded in local social reality.
Certainly throughout his very active career, and
now in the wake of his untimely death, Paul
Mmolotsi Rantao lived a life that was very much
worth celebrating. May his soul now and forever
rest in peace.
- Dr. Jeff Ramsay, Press Secretary to the President (21/5/05)
Contacts: Office Telephone: (267) 3975154 &
Facsimile: (267) 3902795. Cell: (267) 71318598.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com.
B. Press Schedule:
As always the events listed below, which
represent only those parts of H.E. the
President's schedule open in whole or part to
press coverage, are subject to change. When
possible and necessary, updates will be
forwarded. Members of the Press are also
encouraged to contact the sponsors of the various
events listed below for further programme details
and possible updates.
Sunday (22/5/05): In the morning, at 6:00 am,
H.E. the President will depart for New Delhi,
India, to begin a 5 day Working Visit.
Monday (23/5/05): Activities during the day are
scheduled to include separate meetings with SADC
and African Union Heads of Mission, before the
President departs for Mumbai.
Tuesday (24/5/05): During the morning H.E. the
President will deliver the opening, keynote,
address at the International Diamond Conference,
whose theme is "Mines to Market" He will then
attend a luncheon with members of the Gem and
Jewellery Export Promotion Council. During the
day he is also expected to tour a diamond factory
and attend the Conference's gala dinner as a
guest of honour.
Wednesday (25/5/05): In the morning the President
is scheduled to fly to Hyderabad, where he will
have breakfast with the Chief Minister, Governor
and other state dignitaries. He is then expected
to visit Hyderabad's Science and Technology Park,
which promotes the establishment of ICT
investment, and the headquarters of Satyam, on of
India's leading ICT companies. At the end of the
day he will fly back to New Delhi.
Thursday (26/5/05): At noon H.E. the President
will address leading members of the Indian
business community at a Working Lunch jointly
sponsored by the Federation of Indian Chambers of
Commerce and Industry and the Confederation of
Indian Industry. Details of additional activities
pending confirmation. In the afternoon he will
depart for Botswana.
[Postponed] The Tshole Trust Dinner originally
scheduled for the evening of Friday (27/5/05) has
Monday (30/5/05): During the day H.E. the
President is scheduled to depart for the U.S.A.,
where he is to receive a major international
C. OP Press Coverage Highlights of the Past Week
Tuesday (17/5/05): In the morning, H.E. the
President of Namibia, Mr. Hifikepunye Pohamba,
arrived at SSK International Airport with his
delegation who included the First Lady Mrs.
Penehupifo Pohamba, to begin for a three day
official visit. There he was greeted by H.E. the
President and others. The arrival ceremony was
followed by the holding of Official Talks between
the two leaders and their officials at the Office
of the President [E 2]. In the afternoon, H.E.
the President also met with a delegation of
visiting legislators from the German Bundstag [E
3]. In the evening, he and the First Lady Barbara
Mogae hosted a State Banquet in honour of H.E.
President and Mrs. Pohamba [D 1a, b].
Thursday (19/5/05): In the morning H.E. the
President interrupted his busy schedule to
express his shock at the death of the Member of
Parliament for Gaborone West North, Mr. Paul
Rantao [D 2]. In the afternoon he joined the
President of Namibia, H.E. President Pohamba, in
a joint Press Conference, which was preceded by
the reading of a Joint Communiqué for the visit
Friday (20/5/05): In the morning H.E. the
President gave an exclusive interview LITV (UK)
who are working with BEDIA on a video
highlighting Botswana as an investment location.
Later in the morning, after chairing a meeting of
the Economic Committee of Cabinet on the progress
of PMS, he received a courtesy call from the
internationally renowned South African Jazz
musician, and former Botswana resident, Hugh
Masekela [E 6].
D. Statements by H.E. the President:
D 1) Statements by a) H.E. Festus G. Mogae,
President of the Republic of Botswana at a State
Banquet held in Honour of H.E. Mr. Hifikepunye
Pohamba, President of the Republic of Namibia,
First Lady Mrs. Pohamba and Delegation and b) the
responding Statement by H.E. President Pohamba
Below are the texts of the formal Statements
given by Their Excellencies Presidents Festus
Mogae and Hifikepunye Pohamba at Tuesday evenings
State Banquet. In addition to the texts both
Presidents also spoke at some length during the
dinner of circumstances in Botswana in 1961, when
President Pohamba first came to the country as a
D 1a) Statement by H.E. President Mogae:
Your Excellency, Mr Hifikepunye Pohamba,
President of the Republic of Namibia, and Mrs.
Penehupifo Pohamba; Your Honour the Vice
President, Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama;
Your Lordship the Chief Justice and Mrs. Nganunu;
The Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly
and Mrs. Balopi; Honourable Cabinet Ministers
from Namibia and Botswana; Lady Olebile Masire;
Your Excellencies Heads of Diplomatic Mission and
International Organisations; Honourable Leader of
the Opposition in Parliament, Mr. Akanyang
Magama; The Deputy-Mayor of Gaborone Mr. Dube;
The Judge President of the Industrial Court and
Mrs. Legwaila; The President of the Customary
Court of Appeal Kgosi Linchwe II and Mohumagadi
Mma-Seingwaeng; The Chairman of the House of
Chiefs, Kgosi Seepapitso IV; Distinguished
Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen:
1. It gives me great pleasure to welcome you
to Botswana Mr. President, the First Lady Mrs.
Penehupifo Pohamba and your high level entourage.
We are particularly delighted to have you here so
soon after you took office. Although this is the
first time you are visiting this country as
President, you have visited us many time before
in different capacities.
2. Batswana should know that you lived
amongst us at a time when Gaborone was a small
station in the bush. At that time it took more
than a week to travel by road to Shakawe from
Francistown as you experienced! This was a time
when there was a road maintenance system known as
bush dragging. And above all, there were sign
posts at border posts to the South and North
written in bold letters: YOU ARE NOW ENTERING
BECHUANALAND PROTECTORATE - BEWARE OF DUST. In
short, Mr. President, it was through this country
that you first left apartheid ruled South West
Africa on the great journey and noble mission to
free your country from the shackles of racial
3. It is therefore proper and fitting that
we should say to you, as a champion of democracy,
national self determination and human rights for
all, welcome to your second home. And again
welcome, Mr. President! We also extend a hearty
welcome to your dear wife and delegation.
4. Mr. President since this is your first
visit to Botswana after assuming the high office
of President of the Republic of Namibia, the
Government and people of Botswana join me in once
again congratulating you on your election. I want
to assure you of our unwavering commitment to
co-operate with you in the discharge of your
onerous responsibilities of managing the public
affairs of the Namibian people. You can count on
our consistent friendship, solidarity and
5. We salute the Government and people of
Namibia for the peaceful manner in which they
conducted the 2004 general elections. The
peaceful and orderly transfer of power that we
witnessed on 21 March, 2005 is highly
commendable. It bears testimony to the people of
Namibia's abiding faith in the ideals of
democracy. Indeed, democracy has become
synonymous with Namibian culture.
6. Thanks to the commitment and perseverance
of the leadership and people of Namibia, your
country has witnessed remarkable transformation
since independence. It has distinguished itself
as a beacon of peace and democracy. This should
not be underestimated because it serves as a
powerful inspiration to many around the world who
are still struggling to achieve these values.
They can have hope that if they too work hard in
emulating the good example of the people of
Namibia they can succeed.
7. I seize this opportunity, to pay tribute
to you, Mr. President, for your personal
contribution to the liberation of Namibia and the
distinguished role you continue to play towards
the great enterprise of building a free Namibia,
a country that is stable, peaceful and
8. I have no doubt that under your able
leadership, Namibia will continue to make great
strides in the consolidation of democracy and
social justice, not only for its people, but also
for the peoples of Southern Africa and the wider
9. We celebrate the achievements of Namibia
in the economic and social fields as our own
because we are fully aware that we prosper when
our neighbours prosper. I must say Namibia's
success in the provision of social services to
its people is the envy of many around the world.
10. In the short period of fifteen years, the
literacy rate in Namibia has increased by a
whopping 300%. An estimated 70% of the rural
population in Namibia now has access to safe
drinking water. Tremendous achievements have
also been recorded in the areas of health,
housing and rural electrification.
11. It is the dedication of Namibia's
leadership towards improving the lot of its
people that made these phenomenal achievements
possible. Ladies and gentlemen, let us applaud
these achievements and wish Namibia continued
12. Mr. President we have said it before, and
we must state it again and again, that our two
countries enjoy excellent bilateral relations.
We are bound together by geography, history,
culture and family ties. We have a shared vision
to secure a better future for our peoples. The
bonds of friendship and solidarity between our
Governments and peoples have withstood the test
of time, and have continued to grow over the
13. We have certainly moved in the right
direction by establishing a solid foundation for
co-operation by putting in place the Joint
Permanent Commission of Economic and Technical
Co-operation as well as the Joint Permanent
Commission on Defence and Security.
14. We should use these mechanisms more
effectively to exploit the potential for mutually
beneficial co-operation. Namibia and Botswana
have many similarities. We have small
populations scattered over vast areas of
semi-arid land that are prone to frequent and
severe drought periods. We are small, middle
income developing countries and often suffer from
the same vulnerabilities and disadvantages which
are beyond our control.
15. In the past we have had to make joint
submissions to the industrialised countries on
issues of national interest to our countries such
as in the cases of Diamonds for Development and
the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA III).
We must therefore recognise the importance of
being vigilant and constantly aware of the need
to co-ordinate our efforts on issues that concern
development and fair trade.
16. Our countries have achieved some measure
of success in improving the human condition
through hard work, sound macro-economic
management and prudent husbandry of the limited
resources at our disposal. Together, we must
persistently, and consistently insist, that there
should be incentives for success.
17. In other words, we should not be victims
of our own success by being denied assistance on
grounds of our income per capita. We must be
assisted to develop institutional capacity and to
reach the phase of sustainable development
because we have proved that we deserve and our
worthy of such assistance.
18. Mr. President, let me conclude by stating
that I am fully satisfied with the excellent
relations that exist between us. We enjoy
mutually beneficial co-operation in the areas of
sports, culture, local government administration,
health, human resources development and the
administration of justice.
19. We must also admit, however, that we face
many common challenges, particularly the problems
of poverty, recurring droughts and HIV and AIDS.
There is therefore room for improvement. I am
convinced that we can count on each others'
friendship, mutual goodwill and solidarity to
strengthen our collaborative efforts.
20. On that note, Mr. President, I once again
welcome you to Botswana and wish you an enjoyable
and memorable visit.
21. Distinguished Guests, ladies and
Gentlemen, may I now ask you to rise and join me
in drinking a toast to:
* continued good health and happiness of His
Excellency, Mr. Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of
the Republic of Namibia and First Lady Mrs.
* continued friendship, solidarity and
co-operation between the Governments and people
of Namibia and Botswana; and
* prosperity for both the people of Namibia and Botswana.
To the President. PULA!!!
D 1b) Responding Statement by H.E. President Pohamba:
[Salutations]....Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. First and foremost, I would like to express my
deep appreciation for the warm hospitality
extended to me and my delegations since our
arrival in this great country. Therefore, I wish
to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude
to Your Excellency, and through you, the
fraternal people of Botswana for the traditional
African cordial hospitality.
2. I would also like to take this opportunity to
express our deep appreciation to you Mr.
President, for having been amongst our honoured
guests, who attended our 15th Independence
Anniversary and my inauguration as the Second
President of the Republic of Namibia in the 21st
March this year.
3. After Namibia attained her freedom and
independence fifteen years ago, the first Head of
state to pay a State Visit to our newly
independent country was the then President of
Botswana, Sir Ketumile Masire. It is in view of
that historical significance that I have gladly
accepted the invitation of Your Excellency, Mr.
President, to pay the first State visit after my
inauguration as the Second Presi8dent of the
Republic of Namibia to your great country.
4. Your Excellency, Namibia and Botswana enjoy
excellent bilateral relations and longstanding
bond of friendship and solidarity. In the wake of
German colonial genocide of 1904-1907, the
Herero-speaking Namibians who escaped to Botswana
enjoyed the protection and comfort of the people
of Botswana. For many years, Botswana was the
home to SWAPO CADRES and many other Namibians
fleeing apartheid colonialism at home. Botswana,
together with the other Front Line States,
provided political, material and diplomatic
support to Namibian freedom fighters under the
leadership of SWAPO. This is the foundation upon
which bilateral relations between the two
countries have been built after Namibia's
independence in 1990.
5. Today, Namibia and Botswana are closely
working together to overcome the development
challenges facing the two countries. This is
clear from the regular political consultations
and joint efforts in the economic, commercial,
scientific, technical, social, cultural, and
defence and security fields, as well as from a
number of bilateral agreements that Namibia and
Botswana have put in place since our independence
6. Collaboration between the two countries is
also manifested in the good relations that exist
between the ruling Parties of the two countries,
the SWAPO Party and the Botswana Democratic
Party. The SWAPO Party has regularly invited the
Botswana Democratic Party to attend its
congresses and vice-versa. Like the SWAPO Party,
the Botswana Democratic Party scored another
victory during the Parliamentary elections last
year, after which Your Excellency was re-elected
as Head of State by Parliament. I would,
therefore, like to use this occasion on my State
Visit to congratulate you Mr. President and the
Botswana Democratic Party on your electoral
7. I view this State Visit as an historic
occasion indeed, because it stands as further
testimony to the strong bonds of friendship and
cordial relations that so happily exist between
our two countries and peoples. This great country
was a reliable friend during the period of our
greatest need, and throughout the years, Botswana
has remained, and continues to be a true friend,
8. In view of that background, I believe that we
must continue to expand and build on the strong
foundations that we have established in various
fields as part of bilateral co-operation between
our two countries. Namibia and Botswana share
fundamental values and common views on crucial
matters of multi-party democracy, good
governance, fundamental human rights and freedoms
and the maintenance of peace and security in our
region and our continent.
9. As members of the community of nations, our
countries are affected, directly and indirectly
by events that take lace elsewhere in the world.
In this context, Namibia and Botswana should
continue to actively support and participate in
the activities of continental and international
organisations. This includes the African Union
and its economic development programme, NEPAD, as
well as the United Nations, the Commonwealth and
other international bodies. The fact that our two
countries have a commonality of views on the need
to reform the United Nation, and the Security
Council in particular, demonstrates our desire to
contributor to equity and fairness in global
10. Your Excellency, as members of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC), Namibia and
Botswana are committed to the process of regional
economic integration, which is crucial in our
common efforts towards sustainable economic and
social development. It is for this reason that I
requested the Namibian private sector to come to
Botswana and explore business opportunities with
their counterparts here. I am informed that many
of the companies represented in the business
delegation are already doing business in your
11. I wish to commend the Government of Botswana
for its leadership role in advancing regional
integration, notably as the host country to the
Head Quarters of the Southern African Development
12. Once again, allow me to thank you most
sincerely, Mr. President, for the warm welcome
and gracious hospitality accorded to me and my
delegation since our arrival here.
13. Ladies and Gentlemen, I now request you all
to join me in proposing a toast to the continued
good health of His Excellency, President Festus
Mogae, and the lasting bonds of friendship
between the peoples of our two countries. To the
D 2) Message of condolence by His Excellency
Festus Mogae, President of the Republic of
Botswana, on hearing of the death of the Hon.
Member of Parliament, Mr. Paul Mmolotsi Rantao:
Together with other Batswana, it was with shock
that I heard the news of the death of the Hon.
Member of Parliament for Gaborone West-North, Mr.
Paul Mmolotsi Rantao.
Paul will be remembered by Batswana for his many
and varied contributions as a journalist and
writer as well as politician. In all of these
pursuits he was an indefatigable advocate for
what he believed in. His public passion shall be
My family and I send our deepest condolences and
sympathy to the late Paul Rantao's widow,
Kefilwe, and family as they face this sad and
Festus Gontebanye Mogae
President of the Republic of Botswana
E. OP Press Office Forwarding:
E 1) 16/5/05: Response to Midweek Sun Request for
Background Information on the Abolition of Tirelo
Sechaba (the following was published in the
newspaper's 18/5/05 edition):
With reference to your reporter's telephoned
request of earlier this morning the Office wished
to observe that Tirelo Sechaba was abolished by
H.E. the President acting on the advice of
Cabinet after many years of debate, and several
reviews, of the programme. Throughout the time of
its existence the programme had both its
supporters and critics.
Immediately before its final abolition some of
the then growing concerns about the viability and
utility of Tirelo Sechaba had, in fact, already
been noted in the 1997 report of the Task Force
for a Long Term Vision (Vision 2016), which forms
a partial context for the ultimate decision,
while underscoring something of both the
identified strengths and weaknesses of the
programme at the time. From the Vision Report:
"The system of Tirelo Sechaba was originally
intended to provide a form of social education to
young people, and to make their skills and energy
available to the nation. It has however had
difficulty in absorbing the number of young
people available, and has been criticised for
delaying talented youngsters from obtaining
further qualifications, for under employing the
participants, and for problems relating to the
abuse of female participants."
"Tirelo Sechaba embodies an important concept of
national service that is necessary and
appropriate to Botswana's situation. It also
promotes national unity and encourages non
discriminatory attitudes by exposing young people
to the cultural diversity of the country. It will
be more effective and productive if more young
people obtain higher qualifications before
entering into their national service. The
educational aspect of Tirelo Sechaba should
become less necessary as the system of education
in Botswana improves.
"The current review of Tirelo Sechaba should make
a full consideration of the resources that it
consumes, and how they could be more efficiently
redeployed in the national interest to pursue
more pressing educational goals."
In the light of such concerns as those expressed
above, and following further review that, among
other things, took into account additional
troubling instances involving the serious abuse
of Tirelo Sechaba participants, along with
related problems of accommodation, the proposal
to terminate the Tirelo Sechaba programme was
discussed in the form of a Cabinet Memorandum,
which in turn resulted in H.E. the President
issuing a Directive on the 7th of October 1999
entitled "Implementation of the Decision to
Abolish the Tirelo Sechaba Scheme."
E 2) 17/5/05: Today's Official Talks between the
Presidents of Botswana & Namibia:
This morning, H.E. the President held bilateral
talks with the President of Namibia, Mr.
Hifikepunye Pohamba, who arrived earlier today to
begin a three day State Visit to Botswana.
In the talks H.E. the President was joined by
H.H. the Vice President, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama
Ian Khama, the Hon. Minister of Presidential
Affairs and Public Administration, Mr. Phandu
Skelemani, the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs
and International Cooperation, Lt. Gen. Mompati
Merafhe, the Hon. Minister of Works and
Transport, Mrs. Lesego Motsumi, the Hon Minister
of communications, Science and Technology, Mrs.
Pelonomi Venson, the Permanent Secretary to the
President, Mr. Eric Molale and other senior
H.E. President Pohamba's Delegation included: The
Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Marco
Hausika, The Hon. Minister of Presidential
affairs, Dr. Albert Kawana, the Hon. Minister of
Safety and Security, Mr. Peter Tshirumba, Kgosi
Constance Kgosimang (representing traditional
leadership) and other senior officials.
At the beginning of the talks both leaders
expressed their common desire to build upon the
already excellent neighbourly relations that
prevail between the two Republics.
During the substantive discussions there was full
consensus on a range of bilateral, regional and
international issues. Among the topics discussed
* The mutual desire to increase the volume of
goods and services being transported along the
* The potential for businesses in Botswana to
increase their utilisation of the port at Walvis
Bay, which is the closest major port between
Botswana and Atlantic destinations (Europe and
the Americas etc.); and
* Cooperation in the field of education.
During the talks the Namibian President further
expressed his gratitude at the warm welcome his
delegation had received. For his part H.E. the
President welcomed the growing number of
exchanges at all levels of leadership among the
SADC states as a sign of growing regional
understanding and cooperation.
E 3)18/5/05: H.E. the President meets with German MPs
This week (late Tuesday 17/5/05) H.E. the
President had the pleasure of receiving five
members of the German Federal Parliament or
Bundstag at the Office of the President.
The group was led by the Hon. Mr. Hans-Joachim
Otto of the Free Democratic Party (opposition)
and also included Mrs. Petra Bierwirth and Mrs.
Bridgette Wimmer of the (ruling) Social
Democratic Party and Mr. Stephan Meyer and Mrs.
Claudia Winterstien of the Christian democratic
Union (opposition). The Parliamentarians came to
Botswana as members of the Bundstag SADC
committee. The were also accompanied by the
Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to
Botswana, H.E. Dr. Han-Dietrich von Bothmer, as
well as additional members of the Bundstag Staff.
During the meeting H.E. the President was joined
by the Permanent Secretary to the President, Mr.
Eric Molale and other senior officials from the
Office of the President and the Ministry of
Foreign affairs and International Cooperation.
After introductions, H.E. briefed the legislators
on some of the existing areas of assistance and
cooperation between Botswana and Germany
including the fight against HIV/AIDS, vocational
training, and technical assistance in ground
water surveying and sanitation and waste
management. He further expressed his gratitude
for the substantial German financial support for
the Botswana Training Authority, including GTZ's
partial sponsorship of the recent International
Vocational Education and Training (IVETA)
Conference in Kasane.
The President also took note of the contributions
to Botswana of German individuals and
organisation outside of Government, such as the
German Evangelical Lutheran Church's support for
the hospital in Ramotswa, the anti-AIDS
assistance of the Boeringer-Ingelheim Corporation
and the proactive efforts of the Friedrich Ebert
Foundation in assisting local NGOs.
In response Mr. Otto informed the President that
before coming to Botswana they had heard that the
country was a model of democracy and development.
Acknowledging the existing good relations between
the two countries he informed the President that
the members of the SADC Committee would be
interested in knowing how cooperation might be
further intensified in those areas of greatest
need. After further deliberations, among the
areas so identified were:
* Technical assistance for expanded water
resource development and conservation;
* Encouragement of greater German investment,
focusing on small to medium scale enterprises;
* Science and technology education; and
E 4)18/5/05: "Bridges from what to what" -
Keynote Address by Dr. Jeff Ramsay at the 2005
International Museum Day Celebrations held at the
...Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I am humbled to have been invited to
address this important occasion. This annual
event is important for a variety of reasons. As
reflected in today's programme, it is an
opportunity for us to indulge ourselves in a rich
and entertaining variety of performances and
other activities - activities that, furthermore,
reflect something of the depth and diversity of
our nation's living cultural heritage.
2. As one can readily see from the range of
topics covered at yesterday's seminar, this
year's International Museum Day has also provided
a welcome opportunity for cultural activists and
professionals in various fields - archaeology,
botany, environmental studies etc. - to discuss
and debate issues of culture and cultural
identity in our evolving society.
3. Last year an international study was
released that identified Botswana as being
Africa's most "globalised" nation. Today we may
wish to contemplate what are the implications of
this status, along with such additional well
recognised variables as age, class, race and
ethnicity, to our modern collective identity?
Building "unity in diversity" must be more than a
slogan. It should be a constant challenge to all
4. International Museum Day also exists as
an annual opportunity for those of us who are
already cognisant about the role of museums in
our society to try to reach out to less committed
stakeholders and the general public. This too is
important for, to be frank, my perception is that
most people in our society still do not have much
of an appreciation, much less passion, for the
key role our museums have been playing, and
hopefully will continue to play, as centres of
cultural achievement, marketing and debate, as
well as cultural display and preservation.
5. While the concept of the living museum
has long been with us, I am told that the future
lifespan of some of our museums is less certain.
Rather than point fingers, let us use this day to
ask ourselves about how successful we have been,
at both the national and local level, in
maintaining our own relevance to the wider
6. Finally, this year's Museum's Day is also
important for its provocative theme - "Museums
Bridging Cultures". Because I am sure this
audience would not wish me to unduly delay the
many talented folks who are scheduled to follow
me on this stage, I shall try to focus my remarks
on this theme. I would be remiss, however, if I
did not say just a few words about the background
of this day in its local context.
7. Since 1977 International Museum Day has
been celebrated around the world. I am informed
that it was the International Council of Museums
that came up with the idea of commemorating this
day in order to appreciate the role of museums in
promoting "social advancement".
8. The origins of museums and monuments
protection in Botswana go back a bit further. In
1934 a rather unusual colonial officer by the
name Vivian "Maeba" Ellenberger alerted his
superiors in Mafikeng that:
"Expeditions (authorised and unauthorised) are
scouring the country collecting information and
articles of historical interest: collectors from
beyond our borders have reaped a rich harvest of
gold ornaments, iron and stone implements, wooden
carvings, leatherwork, musical instruments, beads
9. This appeal resulted in the High
Commissioner's Proclamation no. 68 of 1934, which
for the first time sought to legally protect the
territory's antiquities. But, the proclamation
soon proved to be ineffectual. Maeba (who unlike
virtually all of his colonial colleagues had
actually been raised in Botswana among Batswana)
then proposed to conserve elements of local
material culture through the creation of a
Museum. He noted:
"The Protectorate contains an amazing wealth of
items historical to itself and a most valuable
collection could be made in quite a short time."
10. His proposal did find support among the
dikgosi who were members of the then African
Advisory Council. This is perhaps not surprising
for traditionally, ka Setswana, a kgosi is
understood to rule not on his own behalf but in
order to uphold the legacy of his father: "Ga se
batho ba gago, ke ba ga rrago."
11. This injunction further underscores the
fundamental role of bogosi as a bridge between
his subjects and the legacy of the ancestors. In
the past royal responsibilities included that of
looking after historical monuments, artefacts,
and relics. An example was the custodianship
conferred by three generations of Bakwena
monarchs to members of the Kgabo family to look
after the remains of David Livingstone's mission
station at Kolobeng.
12. To cut a long story short, in the end
Ellenberger's proposed museum was rejected. It
was, therefore, not until 1961 that Kgosi Bathoen
II, who had been one of Maeba's royal backers,
founded Botswana's first museum as a private
initiative. But, it did not long survive. In
1968, Bathoen was again prominent among those who
supported the establishment of the then private
National Museum, which only became a Government
Department in 1976. This development nearly
coincided with the opening of Mochudi's
Phuthadikobo Museum, mostly through the
initiative of Sandy Grant.
13. Since then additional local museums have
emerged through community efforts in D'Kar,
Francistown, Kanye, Maun, Molepolole, and Serowe.
A number of initiatives are also ongoing to
preserve local monuments, such as the Tshodilo
Hill Heritage site.
14. There has over the years also been also
been expansion at the centre with enlargement of
the National Museum's central complex and
subsidiary sites, such as the Botanical Garden at
the Village section of Gaborone.
15. To a casual observer such growth might be
interpreted as a sign that our nation's museums
have been moving from strength to strength. But,
in recent years the local museums in particular
have had to struggle to survive.
16. For years there was a widespread
consensus among cultural conservationist about
the need for a national museum's policy. There
was further consensus that, to ensure
implementation, such a policy should lead to the
creation of National Museums and Monuments
Service. The good news is that, after much delay,
the policy has been approved, but it now needs to
17. To some extent the ball is therefore now
back in the court of the professionals, who are
challenged to ensure that implementation takes
place and its benefits become manifest. At the
end of the day the public value of any service
consists of nothing more than the collective
contributions of its members.
18. This brings me back to this year's theme
of "Museums Bridging Cultures". While this theme
has significant domestic implications in the
context of our efforts to bridge our own
diversity, in the limited time I have remaining I
shall rather focus on its global ramifications
with the question "bridging what to what?"
19. Speaking in a private and personal
capacity, I must admit that, in the context of
globalization, I have become increasingly
concerned about our country and, indeed, our
continent's capacity "to sing its own song", to
walk our own progressive path "facing neither
east nor west"; so as to achieve our own
20. A cause of my concern is ongoing
worldwide macro-economic trends in the media. In
this respect, I do not simply speak of the news
media, but more generally of the emergence of
what has been labelled by others as the "global
commercial media system". This system has now
evolved to a point in which the mass distribution
of all forms information and entertainment has
become concentrated in the hands of a few public
and private mega-corporations such as Time-AOL
Warner, the BBC or Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp.
21. Such trans-national conglomerates are
increasingly defining "culture" on a global
scale, but not as yet at least in anything like a
global context. MTV Base, with its kente cloth
side bars is based where and on what, by and for
whom? Although it broadcasts from our
neighbourhood is Channel O really "decolonised"?
22. Every evening CNN International promises
to bring us "your world today". Do we belong to
this world? Or are we rather living in BBC's
world? Why is it that we still seem obsessed with
everything British from football to their
leadership? China, India, Indonesia and Brazil
are all much larger nations in terms of both size
and population than the UK, with (measured in
Purchase Power Parity) economies either nearly as
large or (in the case of China and India) much
larger. Yet how many folks here can name their
leaders? Follow their sports clubs?
23. I realize that such examples may sound a
bit elitist insofar as so far only an elite
minority of our households currently watch DSTV.
But, where in the end are we all heading? Have we
not been informed that our bright future is
Orange, along with Mascom and others who are
already busy selling us bridges across the
digital divide to a brave new world of global
24. The bottom line is that Africa, much less
our own small piece of the mother continent, is
being once more marginalized by the global
commercial media system into a land that depends
on others for its images and text. The subtext of
this that we also remain the presumed source of
exotic and troubled stereotypes.
25. Until the truly phenomenal success of
Prof. McCall Smith's charming novels, our own
country's global mass media profile was confined
to wildlife videos and surreal depictions of
so-called 'Bushmen', a timeless stereotype that
has always existed outside real time.
26. What can our museums do about this? I
believe a lot! Through their own activities, and
by working alongside others, including our own
small but dynamic, citizen empowering, domestic
media, they can play a leading role in helping us
and our children to understand who and where we
are in this age of global information, which for
African, in particular, has also become an age of
unprecedented global disinformation.
27. Museums can, for example, re-affirm the
fact that (as my boss observed before a global
audience last year):
"...the romantic fiction of Laurens Vander Post
(author of the "Lost World of the Kalahari") and
racial comedy of Jamie Uys ("The Gods Must be
Crazy"), along with others of the same genre,
have never been an authentic part of Botswana's
28. Living museums can help our children see
through the old colonial apartheid myth of Bantu
colonisation, which is still being perpetuated
notwithstanding the fact that the best scientific
evidence indicates that southern and eastern
Africa was the relatively recent cradle of all
humankind, as well as the home of most of our own
citizens' known ancestors. If we need myths about
local origins let us instead go back to our own,
let us find Matsieng!
29. Let me here briefly acknowledge the fact
that our museums have been making a significant
contribution to the cultural life of our country
that rarely makes the commercialised headlines.
30. I particularly appreciate the fact that
the National Museum continues to reach out to
children across the country through the mobile
museum or Pitse ya naga mo maotwaneng programme.
I gather its visits still involve a rich variety
of morning, afternoon and evening activities
aimed at exposing our children to the history and
traditional practices of people of different
ethnic and social backgrounds and how they relate
to the environment. This is, moreover, often done
with the involvement of elders in the community.
31. For the mobile museum programme and many
other unsung initiatives our museums deserve to
be commended. Through such effort our own
children are exposed to their roots. This is
appropriate for the simple reason that Sir
Seretse was absolutely correct when he recognised
of the peoples of this country and continent:
"We were taught, sometime in a positive way, to
despise ourselves and our ways of life. We were
made to believe that we had no past to speak of,
no history to boast of the past so far we were
concerned, was just a blank and nothing more.
Only the present mattered and we had very little
control over it."
32. This raises the question as to what
extent we can shape perceptions about either our
present or past? Let me try to illustrate this
point further by giving an example of another
nation, one which has gone to what some would
describe as an extreme in the defence of what it
perceives as an external assault on its
indigenous historical and cultural integrity -
the Kingdom of Thailand.
33. Today Thailand is recognised both as a
democracy and one of the "tiger" economies of
South East Asia. It is also considered by many to
have been notably successful in its response to
HIV/AIDS, which lest we forget remains a global
as well as local challenge.
34. While Thai culinary culture has also come
to enjoy growing international popularity, until
recently its external image was largely confined
to two, in Thai eyes humiliating, stereotypes -
Bangkok's commercial sex trade (largely a legacy
of the past Indochina conflict) and the popular
story of "Anna and the King of Siam" or "The King
and I". I shall speak to the latter.
35. The story of Anna and the King has been
the inspiration of a classic Broadway Musical,
three major films, including the multi-Academy
Award winning 1956 film version of the musical.
Additional spin-offs include a major network
television series, several children's cartoons,
and dozens of books beginning with a 1944
bestseller by Margaret Landon, which helped to
define a whole late twentieth century genre of
historical romance novels.
36. All of these latter works are based on
two bestselling nineteenth century, supposedly
autobiographical, accounts by a certain Mrs. Anna
Leonowens, who having been widowed in colonial
Malaysia (late husband Tom Leon Owens), was
subsequently employed in the early 1860s as an
English teacher to some of the children of King
Mongkut of Siam (as Thailand was then otherwise
37. For many decades now all of the above
works have been strictly banned in Thailand.
This has remained true notwithstanding the
country's modern commitment to democracy and
democratic norms, including freedom of
expression. Why? While the continued banning has
not been immune to domestic debate within the
country (not everyone believes that censorship is
the best approach), there is a strong Thai
consensus that the story of Anna and the King is
deeply offensive. In all of its versions Mrs.
Leonowens is portrayed as being, at the very
least, a close confident and mentor of two of the
country's most revered monarchs, Mongkut and his
son and successor Chulalongkorn.
38. Yet, Thai records confirm only two
encounters as ever having taken place between the
King and the English teacher - a courtesy call
when she first arrived at his court and a
farewell call when she left. Thai objections,
however, go well beyond serious issues of
39. As one of the nation's diplomats recently
observed to a western journalist, with specific
reference to the musical:
"In an age of 'political correctness' it is
stunning to sit through a performance of the
'King and I' and see not only the king, but all
the Thai people, portrayed via an extreme example
of ethnocentricity as a childlike, simple and
hopelessly unable to cope with the arrival of
Westerners. The British, however, are portrayed
as superior beings, gently trying to uplift their
naïve hosts. The wonderful music and the visual
treats of production camouflage the real insult
that lies at the core of the play."
40. Sound familiar? For me at least the words
could have easily been adapted to describe such
portrayals of us as "The Gods Must be Crazy".
41. The plain fact that we in Botswana have
tended to laugh at this particular Apartheid
film's comic absurdities, while the Thais
continue to vigorously reject the "King and I"
perhaps says something fundamental about the
response of both of our cultures to
globalisation. I leave it to you to contemplate
which approach is more appropriate.
42. I personally believe that Museums can
help build bridges between cultures, but only if
there is mutual respect and a willingness among
all to seek that which is both historically and
culturally authentic. This does not ignore the
fact that, inevitably, what constitutes the
authentic culture of this or any nation will be
contested. Our views of culture are shaped by our
individual perceptions as well as the constantly
changing nature of our society.
43. In the end what remains important, even
in an era of globalization, is for us to not
accept the fate of being a people who shall be
perpetually defined by colonial, often racist,
44. A person suffering from amnesia - that is
serious memory loss - will be extremely
disoriented. It is likewise for nations. Like
individuals, nations also need to know where they
have been if the are to have a clear vision of
where they are going. In this respect, the
exploration of history and culture should
ultimately be recognized as dialogue between our
past and present about our collective future. As
Sir Seretse also famously put it:
"...a nation without a past is a lost nation, and
a people without a past are a people without a
45. Let us use this day to reject the notion
that we are nothing more than a "lost world of
the Kalahari". Let our museums, like the Sowetan
newspaper, further re-dedicate themselves to
seeking "The Soul Truth".
46. With these remarks I now conclude by
declaring today's celebration of International
Museum Day 2005 officially open.
E 5) 19/5/05: Joint Communiqué issued in Gaborone
by the Governments of the Republic of Botswana
and the Republic of Namibia on the occasion of
the State Visit to Botswana by H.E., Mr.
Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of the Republic of
1. His Excellency Mr. Hifikepunye Pohamba,
President of the Republic of Namibia, paid a
State Visit to Botswana from the 17th to the 19th
of May 2005 at the invitation of His Excellency
President Festus G. Mogae. President Pohamba was
accompanied by the First Lady, Mrs. Penehupifo
Pohamba; the Honourable Minister of Foreign
Affairs, Mr. Marco Hausiku; the Honourable
Minister of Safety and Security, Mr. Peter T
Tsheehama; the Honourable Minister of
Presidential Affairs, Dr. Albert Kawana, a
traditional leader Kgosi Constance Kgosimang and
Senior Government Officials.
2. His Excellency President Mogae welcomed
President Pohamba and congratulated him on his
election to the high office of President of the
Republic of Namibia. President Mogae
congratulated the people of Namibia for the
peaceful manner in which they conducted the 2004
general elections and for the peaceful transfer
of power on 21 March 2005. He assured President
Pohamba of Botswana's friendship, solidarity and
full cooperation in the management of the
bilateral relations between the two countries.
3. The two leaders held Official Talks on 17
May 2005 and discussed a wide range of bilateral,
regional and international issues of mutual
interest and concern. They underlined the need
for enhanced economic and technical co-operation
between the two countries for mutual benefit.
They agreed that Botswana and Namibia had
enormous potential for stronger co-operation,
particularly in areas of education, governance,
trade and industry, tourism, mining and
4. President Pohamba thanked the Government
and people of Botswana for the material and moral
support they extended to the people of Namibia
during the difficult years of the struggle for
freedom and independence. He stated that Namibia
would not be a free country today without this
5. The two leaders noted with appreciation
that Botswana and Namibia enjoyed excellent
bilateral relations. They recommitted themselves
to continue working together to further enhance
these mutually beneficial relations.
6. They commended the private sectors of the
two countries for their collaborative efforts to
exploit the enormous business opportunities that
existed in the two countries.
7. In the field of education and training,
President Mogae thanked President Pohamba for the
slots that his country continues to avail to
Batswana to study at the University of Namibia,
the Polytechnic and the International University
of Namibia. To promote greater mutual
understanding and people to people interaction
between the two nations, President Pohamba
encouraged Namibian nationals to apply for the
slots reserved for international students at the
University of Botswana.
8. On local governance, the two leaders
noted with satisfaction the ongoing efforts by a
number of local authorities in the two countries
to conclude twinning arrangements which will
enable them to learn from each other's best
practices on matters of development planning,
governance and resource mobilization at the local
9. The two leaders expressed satisfaction
with the efforts being made to strengthen
cooperation in the field of agriculture,
particularly the efforts to fight the
cross-border spread of animal diseases such as
Foot and Mouth and Cattle Lung Disease.
10. With regard to transportation, the two
leaders expressed concern that the Trans-Kalahari
Highway was not being fully utilized despite the
fact that it held enormous potential not only for
stronger bilateral trade relations between the
two countries, but also as a link between the
SADC region and its overseas markets through the
Port of Walvis Bay.
11. To this end, they urged the private
sectors of the two countries and other
stakeholders in the region to make full use of
the excellent facilities offered by the Port of
12. The talks were held in a convivial and
friendly atmosphere reflective of the excellent
relations that subsist between the two countries.
13. As part of his programme, His Excellency
President Pohamba received the Honourable Speaker
of the National Assembly, Mr. Patrick K. Balopi
and the Honourable Leader of the Opposition in
Parliament, Mr. Akanyang Magama who paid courtesy
calls on him at the Government Guest House.
14. President Pohamba visited and toured the
Orapa Diamond Mine. He also visited Francistown
where he toured the Botswana Meat Commission
(BMC) and the Nortex Garment Factory.
15. At the end of his visit, His Excellency
President Pohamba thanked the Government and
people of the Republic of Botswana for the warm
hospitality extended to him and his delegation.
16. His Excellency President Pohamba extended
an invitation to His Excellency President Mogae
to pay a State Visit to Namibia at a date to be
mutually agreed by the two Governments.
President Mogae gladly accepted the invitation.
E 6) 20/5/05: Hugh Masekela pays courtesy call on H.E. the President:
Today H.E. the President had the pleasure of
receiving the internationally renowned South
African musician, and former Botswana resident
and acquaintance, Hugh Masekela at the Office of
Welcoming the musician the President noted that
"the musical seeds you planted amongst us in the
1980s have been growing".
Mr. Masekela, however, observed that while
Gaborone had certainly become much larger since
the time of his residence in the 1980s in some
ways it appeared to have become a quieter place.
He further observed that many too many younger
musicians and artists in the region appeared to
expect quick success.
Both men agreed that the indigenous cultural
traditions of the people of Botswana, and
Southern Africa remained an underutilised
resource for development.
Noting that he had been meeting with local
stakeholders, including the Botswana Musicians
Union, Masekela expressed the hope that local
artists and cultural activists might come
together to develop and market themselves as an
academy. He further thought that given the
richness of its indigenous arts some sort of
"national pageant" could be created that would
expose what Botswana had to offer to the world.
President Mogae expressed interest in the
concept, noting that he had been impressed by the
recent visit to Botswana of artists from the
Ghanaian Institute of Traditional Culture, who
had participated in the 2005 Botswana-Ghana Expo.
The President further expressed his appreciation
for the young people he has encountered around
the country who have shown great aptitude in the
composing as well as recitation of praise poems
(maboko). We also expressed his belief that
interest in traditional dance had grown steadily
since the 1980s, while observing that it was
important to preserve and develop the diversity
of dance traditions in the country, as they
reflect different ethnic and regional traditions.
There was further consensus that Asian societies,
such as China, India and Japan derived strength
from their adherence to their respective cultural
norms. Masekela expressed the fear that there was
a danger that Southern Africans, in particular,
were becoming blinded to their own identity
through the uncritical consumption of other
He also lauded Botswana for holding on to its
civil norms (botho). But, the President expressed
the view that any such assessment must be
qualified as crime and anti-social behaviour were
unfortunately on the rise.
During the visit Masekela gave Mogae a signed
copy of his autobiography "Still Grazing" as well
as his new CD "Revival".
E 7) Additional notices and forwarding for the week ending on 21/5/05:
* 15/5/05: Background reports on next week's Mumbai Diamond Conference.
* 16/5/05: MOFAIC Press Release - State Visit to
Botswana - HE President H. Pohamba
* 17/5/05: Masire joins Carter in observing
Ethiopia Election - Post election statement from
the Carter Centre.
* 17/5/05: SADC states agree to standardise cyber laws.
* 18/5/05: "Botswana assists Lesotho in diamond mining operational security."
* 18/5/05: On this day: May 19th 1986 - Apartheid
regime launches terrorist attacks on targets in
Gaborone, Lusaka and Harare.
* 19/5/05: Reports from Windhoek on Pohamba visit.
* 19/5/05: From the Indian Press - "Kandivli hero dies saving 117 lives."
* 19/5/05: Courtesy Call by Hugh Masekela at OP tomorrow.
* 21/5/05: Christian Aid on EU-ACP EPA negotiations.