Today I leave the Maru-a-Pula school, where I have stayed my first few weeks in Botswana. Maru-a-Pula is a "co-ed, independent day & boarding secondary school with a reputation as one of Africa’s premier academic institutions" founded in 1972 as one of the first non-racial schools in the region. It's here in the capital city of Gaborone. I've been living on campus with some of the other teachers.
I was based in the school library, but I've been involved doing a few creative writing activities with some of the English classes and joined in the activities of the Permaculture and Wildlife student clubs. Working in the library has been really fun, and I secretly love reshelving the books. Of course I do. I get to handle so many troves of creativity and knowledge and make them more accessible to their readers. The library has a fair collection of books about Botswana or by Batswana writers, and I've been reading as many as I can. Some of my favorites have been Windsongs of the Kgalagadi by Barolong Seboni and Okavango Gods by Anthony Fleischer.
|Hoodia gorgonii, edible and medicinal succulent|
Here at MaP, I helped to compile a guide to the campus flora. I spent a few days walking around campus with MaP's horticulturalist and wonderful plant enthusiast, Diphetogo. He taught me all about the many uses and lives of these plants. One tree, the Buffalo Thorn, for instance is purportedly lightning-resistant; another: Erythrina has knobby seed pods containing red lucky beans. If you carry them in your pocket, good luck may come to you. These are the things I love to learn about--it gives the plants so much character!
I think it was a good choice to start my stay in Bots here. I got to meet many poets at the several poetry events around Gaborone this month. There's a huge wealth of written and spoken word here, and I feel fortunate to have shown up in the right place at the right time. Last Friday, I got to go to the opening of a brand new poetry collection at the Gaborone Public Library. Poets TJ Dema, Gomolemo, and Moroka Moreri all spoke at the event, and it drew a big crowd to the library.
|Resurrection Plant comes back to life|
after it dries and turns brown
I had met Moroka Moreri a few days prior for an interview. He is one of Botswana's traditional praise poets. He is capable of composing vocal poems, in couplets, on the spot. He warned me that I would "run away when I saw him in his traditional regalia" which he wears for special occasions like these readings. He changed from his business suit (he works in Parliament) into a hide tunic, fur cap, and (I think) hyena fur cape, and spoke many words of praise to the poets in the room, all completely improvised. He even included me, and although I didn't understand (he was speaking in Setswana), I was blushing HARD. But, I tried to be graceful about it. I think I smiled at the right moments (when the crowd was laughing), and everyone was kind to me in the reception afterwards. EEeeeee.
So, now I move up to Khama Rhino Sanctuary for the next few weeks. I hope to travel to points north afterwards, like the Makgadikgadi Pans, Kasane and Chobe National Park, and then Maun and the Okavango Delta, before I leave Bots at the end of December. Wish me luck! I may be away from the internet for all of that.
|Quelea quelea male surveying his nest|