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Francistown’s 120 years: A Time for Introspection Over Festivity (IV)

Publishing Date : 10 October, 2017


“No dream is too big. No challenge is too great. Nothing we want for our future is beyond our reach.” Donald Trump

“Prostitution has increased at an alarming rate in the second city. We have surpassed the state of Sodom and Gomorrah” (TheVoice, 22/09/17). These are the painful but honest words and sentiments used to describe Francistown’s shocking skyrocketing HIV/AIDS statistics by an expert from the District Health Management Office at a recent Sexual Health Reproductive Meeting.

In the same newspaper cover page story titled ‘Sin City’, the  article further revealed that there are about 17 989 Sexually Transmitted Diseases cases registered in the Francistown area, sadly about 11 000 of these cases involved children- a society’s  most precious resource. The article further revealed that 4 primary schools have registered a concern that children are stealing safety gloves to use as condoms. Honestly this is one of the most devastating and discouraging stories I have ever come across. The subterranean and long-term implications of this reality are scary and demoralizing; this simply means an entire generation is sadly under siege, under our watch and custodianship.

I don’t want to believe our children have failed themselves; we (their custodians and role models) have dismally failed them. Is this our children’s desperate and loud call for help and attention? Who is going to fix this anomaly, is it the children themselves or it is their custodians? Legendary statesman, Nelson Mandela (mhsrp), teaches us that "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children." What does this revelation mean and say about our society? Previous installments of this series emphasized the urgent need for a holistic development introspection and paradigm shift. This occurrence is a clear sign of our city’s strategic development direction and its misplaced priorities. 

There is need for more focus and investment on family, community and social programming. More deliberate and strategic partnerships with community focused organizations are needed now than ever before. It is up to the city to create an enabling and attractive atmosphere to allow, attract and retain community development associates.  As I sum up the last installment of this series, I would like to pay distinctive attention to the Youth of Francistown.

The journey of the next 120years starts with the city’s current Youth populace. Its inception and direction rests on their shoulders. Its direction and its success or lack thereof, will be determined by Youth more than any other cohort in the city.  In a renowned book titled ‘The Wretched of the Earth’ the author, Frantz Fanon, emphasizes that ‘each generation must of relative obscurity discover its mission fulfill it or betray it’. Our generation is no exception, those that come after us will be the judges of our success or lack thereof.  As generation we have countless sad stories to tell about our own trials and tribulations in the second city. I know the road ahead doesn’t look as bright and clear as it should be.

I know the mountain looks a bit too high and the mountain top a bit too far. I know the storm looks and sounds too heavy, and the road feels unbearably bumpy. However we should draw bottomless inspiration from, Eleanor Roosevelt’s words when he assures the people that ‘the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams’. Similarly, George Bernard, advises that ‘we are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future’. The Youth of Francistown should move into the new 120 years journey with a clear understanding that the future of Francistown is in their hands. Therefore their actions and intervention should be akin to those of a gardener that plants a garden. 

According to, Audrey Hepburn, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”, this is a fundamental ingredient the Youth of Francistown need going forward. Furthermore the Youth need to be generational in their thinking going forward; our generation should not only act for quick and self-serving results. We should know that the planter of a tree in most cases may not get to eat the fruits of the tree or enjoy the shade of the tree, but what makes them remarkable is the fact that they planted the tree(s) that will continue to benefit other generations.  The trick and the greatest test will be for the youth to be innovative and collaborative going forward. The small and scattered resources (financial, human and otherwise) in the city have amazing potential, if and when, brought together constructively.

Youth need to be constantly reminded that they are the change they have been wait for, and the progress they have been yearning for. There is no other person that will walk into their lives and communities to make things better for them. Correspondently the torchbearers of the city owe the Youth an enabling environment to encourage and inspire them to reach amazing altitudes. Achieving this is not always, and only, about providing and investing huge chunks of money in/on the Youth.

It is also about; -improved professional service delivery in the city, -flexible and accommodative bylaws, -relentless aggressive lobbying for a fair share of national developments, -constant and consistent interaction with Youth; -recognition and celebration of young people that continue to make, small and big, progress in the city, -availing incubator spaces and programs for Youth owned initiatives. It is about creating a fresh narrative that largely surrenders the city’s hopes and aspirations to the hands and minds of the Youth. This will encourage and inspire the Youth populace to channel all their efforts and skills towards uplifting the city, the day the Youth start channeling their skills and limited resources towards this direction is the day the city will start reaching greater heights.

Leaders of all great nations and communities managed to be great by simply successfully uniting, inspiring  and challenging the Youth to guide and transform the development process in their communities and nation. Paul Kagame in Rwanda and Barack Obama in the United States are some of the most recent classic examples. Our torchbearers have a simple tusk of motivating and inspiring young people to use their time, skills and energy in sustainable innovations and programs that solve the city’s current and foreseeable challenges directly and/or indirectly.  This shift will certainly contribute positively and greatly towards the city’s sustainable development and Vision 2022 mission.

In conclusion, initiation of this series was honestly meant to benefit and challenge the reader in one way or the other, but it also ended up challenging the author in more than one way. As I script this last installment I still find it very difficult to sum up the Francistown story accurately in my own words. Fortunately, the following words by, Charles Dickens, from his classic novel ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ best sums up my sincere opinion about the City of Francistown at 120 years, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way”.   

* Taziba is a Youth Advocate, Columnist & Researcher with keen interest in Youth Policy, Civic Engagement, Social Inclusion and Capacity Development (7189 0354/gtaziba@yahoo.co.uk)



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