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Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Botswana - A country of Silence

 A church in Bet-El, outside Pitsane.

Anyone who knows me well, will be aware that I have an intense appreciation for silence. Botswana is silent. There are precious few billboards shouting its capitalist obscenities at you, and lamp posts, street corners and windows get to take up their actual place in life, rather than being turned into advertising space. With all of this visual noise removed, you get to rest your eyes on the beautiful scenery of the country, the wonder that are its people, and the expanse of its skies.

View of the sun setting over the pans outside Pitsane 

There is also no obscene onslaught on your nose. Even in Gaborone, a city that compares with any other capital city in the world, you get to breathe freely. There are virtually no smokers in Botswana. You get to exit buildings without inhaling the unwanted secondhand smoke of everyone else who felt entitled to force the effects of their bad habits upon you. Few planes fly over the country, leaving little imprint on those below. The air is clean, albeit humid. Once your sinuses clear up, you actually get to smell the roses ... or whatever alternative plants happen to be in your immediate vicinity.

The quarries outside Lobatse 

When we finally get to actual noise that can be heard with the ears, the silence gets even better. I was very fortunate to visit with friends who did not have a television subscription (although you could opt for the full satellite bouquet, if you chose to). Instead, they were selective with what they wanted to watch, and when, by choosing to watch DVD's on the odd occasion. This choice allowed time to play board and card games, but more importantly, it created space for conversation. We could philosophy, joke, learn from, and teach each other. The range of topics explored leaves one breathless, and the re-discovery of a friend's intelligence is an incomparable gift to oneself. Oh, that we would allow silence to re-enter our lives!

The sun setting over a newly planted field

But let me not complete this observation without addressing the topic of friendship in more detail. I found the people of Botswana open, friendly, inviting, supportive and generous. There are no dividing lines between the people and true equality exists among all of its citizens. They are excited and proud about the place they live in, and they love to share it with you. I made a dozen or more friends in three short weeks and were allowed into people's homes and hearts with equal welcome. The warmth of the people is only barely surpassed by the warmth of the hot African sun that smiles down upon a country blessed with old-fashioned values that reminds strongly of Jesus' exhortation to love others as you love yourself.

On a farm outside Pitsane

What a privilege to have been exposed to all of these wonderful impressions. In all fairness, I have to leave you with a single warning, if you are considering a visit to Botswana; do not pack your heart, for you will lose it there, and you will be left with a deep-seated longing to return as soon as possible.

The sun setting over Bet-El, outside Pitsane

Let me share a short poem I wrote, inspired by the intense quiet and stillness of the country. I call it don't blink.

she spent the whole day chasing nothing
but a shadow and a dream
an illusion of things that promised what it could not be
when she finally awoke she realized that the day was gone
that the illusion had vanished
and that she had nothing to show
problem was that day was her whole life
and she was left empty and grey
with nothing but her years of futility
and she wept
she wept for all the things that could have been
but never were
but most of all she wept for all the things that were
but were not known
one day

and then the day was gone
An original poem by Miekie

Rain over a farm outside Pitsane

Marietjie Uys (Miekie) is a published author. You can buy the books here:
You can purchase Designs By Miekie 1 here.
Jy kan Kom Ons Teken en Verf Tuinstories hier koop.
Jy kan Kom Ons Kleur Tuinstories In hier koop.
Jy kan Tuinstories hier koop.
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