Tag Archives: Ghanzi


It’s much easier to understand a culture when we generalize its people and reduce them to norms. This isn’t always a bad thing; it helps us navigate society and integrate. But I’m guilty of doing so in Botswana to the extent that I have been shamefully corrected for certain assumptions, like everyone here is Christian. Just because the majority practice is the loudest and most available, I grasp onto it and use it in my advice and reports. Usually they’re accurate, but once in a while I have to check myself.

Americans value diversity and emphasize our uniqueness to feel special. I know how angry I get when people here make broad generalizations about the United States. Why I haven’t flipped the roles on myself yet, I’m not quite sure. Parts of my identity are totally inapplicable to other Americans and the same is true of people in different parts of the world. In explaining the culture and lifestyle here, I’ve learned to preface with “it depends.” I experienced one version of a sub-culture this past weekend and it was perhaps the weirdest weekend of my life.

I’m told that in many predominately Christian societies, a sub-culture of death metal music emerges. Maybe it’s a balance thing. The culture at the Ghanzi Winter Metal Fest was what I picture shows being like in the US 30 years ago, or whenever that scene emerged. Nearly everyone there was dressed in studded black leather; everywhere I looked I could find chains and animal skulls, accompanied by cowboy boots and hats. It was like Halloween (even the weather reminisced of fall in the Midwest). One man told me about all the horses he owned; he was an actual metal cowboy. At one point I was wearing a leather-studded and fringed vest loaned to me by a man called Taliban Warlord Beast. He made it himself. People were mostly friendly, as they usually are in Botswana, but the atmosphere seemed to promote the release of some repressed wildness in them.

The music was metal in the growling classic sense, echoing old US bands. The event is still in its infancy, with this being the third annual. Maybe the popularity will grow. I don’t know if I’ll make the trip next year, but I’m glad I went once. It was a memorable weekend, if not the least bit premeditated.


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I’ve come to terms with the fact that my life is going to proceed at a consistently inconsistent rate for the next year or so. With my COS date less than 1 year away, every day seems more important than the last – the pressure to complete projects is mounting. I would say that I have been steadily improving on the communication issues I’ve had in the past with my support group, but there’s still work to be done. The group still follows a rhythm, vacillating between active and dormant; unfortunately life gets in the way and I’m sometimes left with a lot of things that must be done and no one to participate. The distractions of daily life are the most frustrating part, beyond all my other roadblocks.

When I do manage to get a decently sized group of my members in the same room, we have lengthy discussions about current issues and growing our organization. My goal lately has been to pull the members into more responsibility. I may have been jumping the gun before when I wanted to simply hand out tasks like homework. One thing that has always surprised me about this group is our lack of attention on psychosocial support. I’ve tried, periodically, to open discussions about emotions relating to the virus’s social impact, but to no avail.

I’m searching for money with my primary assignment. Specifically, my search for funds focuses on Leretlhabetse Supoprt Group’s HIV Resource Centre. The plans are constantly shifting, but I’m connecting with some potential investors. We’ve arrived at the time when I must be constantly moving forward on this project if I hope to complete it in the next year before I close my service. It’s all very exciting and nerve-racking. It’s hard to believe, but this time next year I will be done.

This weekend I’ve decided to go to Ghanzi with a few friends for the Winter Metal Fest. I am beyond excited. This show has potential to be the strangest thing I have done in Botswana. I anticipate seeing metal cowboys decked out black leather and chains. This will also be the first live music show I’ve been to in quite a long time. I’ll be sure to take some pictures!


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