In one word, these two classics are a ‘gripping’ read. The books speak to every native, to every tribesman/woman and to every expatriate. No doubt, they provide a refreshing platform from which to confront our past, present and future. Indeed, no one people has progressed and developed outside the knowledge of its past.
And in these two classics, Sandy Grant, a man who can lay claim to being a true ‘son of the soil’ despite his European descent- takes us through an epic journey to discover our self-worth as a people. A student of History and Conservation, with skills honed and sharpened from Cambridge University, Sandy Grant is able to navigate our pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial epochs in a remarkable way that leaves the reader pondering why this effort has been a long time coming.
Botswana: An Historical Anthology is just that. An anthology of our past, documented from various sources- the colonial administration of the former protectorate, the Chiefs of the time, oral traditions of the natives and from revered scholars including the foremost anthropologist, Isaac Schapera, the book provides an insight into the making of our modern-day nation-state.
In fact, this masterpiece makes a sheer mockery of the recent sentiments expressed in some quarters implying that our constitution is a ‘hoax’ handed down to a gullible neo-imperialistic ruling elite, that would enforce it by hook or crook to suppress the common lot of the people. The great efforts of the Chiefs and their understanding and open-mindedness to the reality that confronted them then, is not lost.
In the same vein, Botswana and its National Heritage is a mixed bag from which scholars, visitors and just about any other person will find interesting. It covers a wide variety of subject materials, which make up our heritage. Further, it challenges authorities and the public at large not only to preserve, but also to protect places of historical significance and heritage for posterity and to also exploit these as avenues for tourism revenue.
In many parts, the book not only provides the reader with information, but also engages him in a mental dialogue from which he/she emerges wiser. For instance, teacher trade unions for example will draw inspiration from that edifice- Phuthadikobo Museum in Mochudi- the former Bakgatla National School built in the early 1920’s under the watchful eye of Kgosi Isang, and his guiding role in the formation of the teacher union movement in 1938.
As for me, I find the books a ‘must have,’ for any patriotic citizen. I daresay not only should these be prescribed in our formal education system from secondary right through to tertiary, but that our foreign missions must also keep copies. This will help generate interest and attract the elusive foreign direct investment into our country.
Sandy Grant is a Botswana citizen and holder of a presidential Honour Award. He is also a Columnist for weekly newspaper, Mmegi Monitor.