Learning From History

I’ve recently begun reading this book about the history of post-independence Africa called The Fate of Africa. It’s not usually my style to read such seemingly dry non-fiction, but I’m getting pretty absorbed in it and the understanding it gives to modern politics here. It reveals a lot about the way the government in Botswana functions (using largely socialist systems) and how it relates to village life and a variety of African cultures. I haven’t quite resolved how I feel about it all yet – I have never been one to bolster capitalism, but I can see all sorts of flaws in this opposing ideology as well.

Botswana is lucky to have a peaceful history – it received independence from Britain without any violence (there was enough bloodshed in other parts of the continent). It discovered its diamond wealth shortly thereafter and was able to pull itself up from the depths of the third world and make it high on the list of development. Its government is relatively free of corruption and the money made from diamonds was invested wisely. It’s hard to argue with the good management, but as we know, development is slow. There are gaps in the system, especially when it comes to the weakness of the private sector (and concurrently the non-profit sector). Government protocol is inundated with bureaucracy, which often presents a barrier to progress rather than protection of it.

I recently gave presentations to health workers on the values and benefits of volunteerism. What I’ve come to realize is that people in Botswana expect rewards for their services – I’m worried for the day the diamonds run out. I don’t know if the systems currently in place can be supported independent of both foreign aid and diamond wealth, but it’s not really my duty to worry about that.

In addition to my current reading ventures, I’m drawn to this topic in light of Peace Corps’s 50th Anniversary, which we celebrated in Gaborone this past weekend. It was pretty cool to see everyone associated with Peace Corps in one place, and it probably won’t happen again. Botswana has come a long way – it had developed so well that Peace Corps withdrew from the country, only returning on the government’s request to deal with HIV/AIDS. I’m not sure we’ll see a cure for the virus in the near future, and behavior change is hard. I can only imagine what history will say about the next 50 years for Botswana; for now, I’ll just occupy myself with the present.

I’ve spent a lot of time travelling in the past couple months, and I don’t see any sign of stopping it soon. I feel like a nomad of sorts, despite having a home in Rakops. I can say I’ve seen most of the country, though I’ll be glad for a change of scenery when I go to South Africa in December with my sister. I also get to start planning a big visit from my family in July, sparked by my grandma. That’s living in the present. I would not have thought they would all make it out to see me, but even the people I know best can surprise me sometimes. Here’s to you (especially the ones who know me best),


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5 thoughts on “Learning From History

  1. Grandma says:

    I’m so hopped up About our trip to Aferica, I’ve been working twice as hard with the PT to get strong enough to enjoy ALL the treks you mentioned . The village is also important, I want to meet the people, play with the children, see if they make crafts etc.

    The deep thinking you do with your reading very impressive.

    When Ashley graduates,I want another family trip to Aruba. This is to celebrate our accomplishments.

    Hugs & kisses, love and miss you lots,

  2. Bob Hardy says:

    What an interesting perspective – perhaps you will be joining me in watching History Channel now ;-)? Very cool that you can draw an understanding from the past to the things you are witnessing in your current experiences.

    So I assume the water is back on now and you are storing away your own Jojo tank (whatever that is)?

    We are all excited to see the country that captivates your interest and get a small taste of the life you have adapted to during your service. We all tell each other as soon as one of us see’s a post – keep up the Blog; your readers are all waiting on the next installment.

    Love you,

  3. I love you, babeh. You’re really an inspiration for me..and so many others. I’m going to work on a package for you! SO much to send you! I need to make it perfect and I also need to make sure I can afford it. So many international things to send recently. Keep it all up and I’ll get more credit soon so I can call. I love and miss you and your voice. Kisses. LOTS of them. xxoxoxxxxoxoxxxx.

  4. Sherry says:

    Hello sweet Jeremiah Roy!
    Loved your post, as usual I look forward to it.
    the insights you are acquiring and teaching your family about is very special.

    I am hopeful you have water now and able to fill your jojo tank. (still not too sure what that is)

    Looking forward to your next blog and to the day I get to hug you to pieces.
    Love you lots


  5. Sherry says:

    Oh Yeah

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