One of the Botswana’s most decorated actors, Donald Molosi is at it again- His Essay simply titled, Dear Upright African, continues to make international headlines in the media, marking his return in the year 2017 and bringing yet another beautiful read under his belt, as a play writer of note.
Dear Upright African was released as a post on his facebook page and the response all over the world became massive, making the 2000 worded essay one of the most forwarded essays by an African writer in recent years. Molosi’s now- viral essay comes at the heels of his critically acclaimed book, We Are All Blue being named one of the best African books of 2016 by critics worldwide.
His latest Hollywood film ‘A United Kingdom’ (2016) was last week nominated for five National Film Awards (Britain’s equivalent of Oscars). Such internationally successful projects in the previous year created anticipation as to what Molosi would write or perform this year. Dear Upright African has ended that suspension and it is already causing a lot of excitement around the world as an untold story of Africa’s schools.
Within 12 hours of release, Dear Upright African had been widely shared online, and already picked up by international newspapers. Within 24 hours after Molosi’s initial Facebook post, the essay was already translated by his fans all over the world into all the official languages of the United Nations. There is even hope for a sequel as evidenced by the comments on social media. But, what is the essay about?
The renowned author and actor who is currently travelling through Southern Africa engaging the media on the subject of decolonizing the African classroom, said in an interview with Trans Africa Radio in Johannesburg last week, that many people are connected with the arguments in the esay because there is a new African in the world, as Kwame Nkrumah predicted there would be, and that African is not content with always being taught his history only by former colonial powers.
“In a way, I communed with those upright Africans who imagine for themselves a decolonized curriculum for our continent’s children. The essay is concerned about the ‘miseducation’ of Africa’s young”, he narrated. In another interview last week on Kaya FM in Johannesburg, Donald Molosi stated that unlike his previous work, ‘Dear Upright African’ is much more opinionated. He told the station that the essay is packed with fact and opinion in equal measure. He emphasised the need to be diligent with fact, obviously. But he also did not want to hide his opinions as he laments the lack of African history in African classrooms because, in there, lies an untold African story.
“I want to start a continental conversation and so I open that continental conversation with my own personal experiences as someone who attended the first twelve years of school in Botswana. I look forward to giving lectures around the world on the matter as I do with all my projects”, reiterated Molosi.
Written in the form of a letter, the essay highlights his personal journey to re-educate himself about Africa. In the essay, Molosi says that his critically-acclaimed book, “We Are All Blue,” was his way of supplementing his own lack of knowledge of Botswana and Africa. Molosi further hinted that the essay may soon be used in institutions of higher learning around the world. His book, “We Are All Blue” is already being taught in several universities in the United States.
In his own words, Molosi said it is tragic and ironic that Africa still imports most of her story from abroad whether be in her textbooks, or films or plays. He contended that privileging the world’s fiction of us over own equally valid versions of our history in our classrooms is worth re-evaluating. His other view is that parents on the African continent are more concerned than ever before about the education which their children are receiving because so many of their children hold university degrees but hold no jobs.
“It is a structural question, and it is a question of whether we are willing to re-imagine curricula to increase the chances of success for Africa’s young people or not,” he said. Many influential literary figures from around the world hailed Molosi’s essay on social media including Zukiswa Wanner (author of London, Cape Town Jo’burg), Caine Prize winner, Binyavanga Wainaina (author of One Day I Will Write About This Place) and Abubakar (author of A Season of Crimson Blossoms) who either commented or shared the essay on their own personal pages. Iconic author of Nervous Conditions, Tsitsi Dangarembga also praised Molosi for the essay and for highlighting how African schools remain colonized.
Dangarembga said that she related to Molosi’s essay. She wrote, “My daughter told me of underwear checks at school – black for us, beige for girls with bi-racial heritage, white for whites as recently as 4 years ago.” Donald Molosi is a classically- trained actor and award- winning playright. He holds an MA in performance Studies from UCSB, a Graduate Diploma in Classical Acting from LAMDA, and a BA in Political Science and Theatre from Williams College. ‘Dear Upright African’ is available online on numerous websites online and also on Molosi’s social media pages under @ActorDonald.
‘The world of marketing is getting confusing,’ this is the sentiment from many marketers who find themselves in the middle of rising digitization and online migration driven by increased connectivity and a pandemic that dictated reduced physical interactions.
According to the Harvard Business Review, customers’ increased discernment, demand for great service experience and the ability to raise ‘a storm’ of complaints online about brands, is reshaping the role of marketing.
In today’s world of brand management, the constant consideration should be agility. This means actually listening to customer sentiment, being flexible with your creative design, messaging, placements and budgets.
Here are a few more pointers to discuss in your 2022 marketing strategy sessions.
Budgeting needs to change: Event based budgeting, allocations based on calendar activities rather strategic impact initiatives, is a thing of the past. If the pandemic taught us anything is that uncertainty for people gatherings is something we need to live with. Furthermore, a lot of this type of marketing is barely linked to specific value beyond brand awareness. It’s time to disrupt yourselves by really evaluating value. In a digitizing world, a marketing budget should be reflective of the overall business direction.
Outdoor is not dead, it just needs creativity: As the world was locked downed due to covid-19, one key consequence was that we were forced to spend more time in doors. As such, many of the billboards had no eyes on them. However, as things
open up, it’s time for brands to challenge billboard companies to create experiential advertising. Like ‘the floating cat’ in Tokyo, a 3-D anamorphic outdoor ad, billboards can be engaging and exciting for those who cross paths with them. Outdoor advertising needs to be reimagined to drive brand ‘stickiness’ in a bold manner.
Thought leadership needs to be genuine: The pressure for relevancy has driven many executives into taking up video and word based content to be seen as authorities and subject matter experts. Begs the question, is it genuine? Does the person you are putting in front of the camera genuinely care to be a source of knowledge and consistently share insights. Thought leaders have an intrinsic drive to share information. It is not just based on one’s position in an organisation. So for 2022, look deeply within for talent that have authentic perspectives they can contribute to public discourse for the benefit of your brand.
Influencers, do you really need them?: This is a question many brand managers have to scratch their heads over every time they go-to-market. In an effort to be seen as a cool and relevant, many brands, large and small have jumped on the influencer bandwagon to drive awareness. The world over influencers have presented brands with a new platform for awareness by using their personalities to market to their followers. Think Kim Kardashian, Mihlali Ndamase, Mjamica, they all have legion of followers who engage with their content on their social media pages. As a brand manager, your job is to be discerning and ensure brand fit. In doing research, look beyond the numbers: audit their historic content type, look into the engagements, do their followers actually engage based on the content subject? Is their tone of engagement relevant to your brand? That is what will answer the question… does your brand need them.
It’s time to take the ROI conversation seriously: This is more of a self-preservation tip. Measuring marketing activity and impact has for many brands been a half-baked approach. For greater impact in 2022, marketing teams need to introspect and fully embrace the technologies. Digital and social media platforms have presented us an opportunity to actually measure our efforts. So insights, listening and automation tools need to be added to your technology stack for you to better reports on your impact. Get closer to sales and service teams, as your efforts often have a direct bearing on their output.
Lastly, remember that visibility needs to lead to action for your marketing to become a value centre.
Modiri Mogende is a Managing Director at Launch Comms, with over 10 years’ experience in media, PR and marketing, he holds a BA and a PgD in Digital Marketing.
More than 40 countries have committed to shift away from coal in pledges made at the COP26 climate summit. Botswana on the other hand has different plans.
Some 850 Kilometres South West of the capital city Gaborone, lies a winding sandy landscape with wind worn- formations on the horizon accompanied by the harsh sun. The Kalahari Desert is conspicuous in the area. Here one finds BORAVAST a cluster of villages; Bokspits, Rappelspan, Vaalhoek and Struizendum.
Although the desert is expected to be barren and brown, green blobs occupy the landscape. These are Mesquite a Prosopis species locally referred to as Sexanana. An invasive tree species that has successfully colonised the area all thanks to its properties that enable it to release a toxin to suppress growth of nearby competing plants.
This has resulted in the replacement of most of the indigenous vegetation in the area, forming dense thorn bushes. Circumstantial evidence suggests that it may also be lowering important fresh-water aquifers and clogging boreholes with its extensive root system. This has seriously led to degraded rangelands and reduced biodiversity.
BORAVAST has found a loophole by clearing the species. The clearance is to generate income for the community whilst also ensuring rehabilitation of the landscape to increase continued flow of ecosystem goods and services, simultaneously promoting of livelihoods.
The BORAVAST community is on a mission to create a backbone for the national economy through the community project as they believe that they have the potential to scale up and produce opportunities for local businesses to participate in the value chain of the national economy.
According to BORAVAST Trust Vice Chairman Gideon Martin: “The project has been dormant since 2015, however during the 2019/20 financial year, the Trust resuscitated the projects operations under the sponsorship of the UNDP (Kgalagadi and Ghanzi Drylands Ecosystem Project).
Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) has also jumped into the band wagon by presenting machinery, office equipment and branding assets worth more than 1 million pula to the BORAVAST Trust. The Department of Forestry has also chipped in with P464 000.To date there are only two operational value chain business being charcoal and fodder production in BORAVAST. Our charcoal product has been tested and competes with coal from Morupule, our fodder is also of high nutritional quality.”
A member of the trust describes the charcoal making process: “Charcoal is made by heating wood from Sexanana to high temperatures in the absence of oxygen. This is done with ancient technology of building a fire in a pit, then bury it in the ground. The result is that the wood partially combusts, removing water and impurities and leaving behind mostly pure carbon.
The tricky part is to maintain the heat at a temperature that is appropriate to avoid the wood turning into ash. It is a tedious and risky process as we also have to be on the look out to contain the fire to avoid wild fires. We sit by the pots hours on end to ensure all goes well on the other hand, Charcoal burning produces large amounts of Carbon Monoxide (CO) which is harmful to us when exposed to very high levels.”
In his blog Kobus Venter an activist states that, “these are signs that governments are trying to regulate the industry by introducing more efficient charcoal-making kilns and establishing plantations to ensure sustainability of the timber source. In Namibia, millions of hectares of encroachment bush is being converted to charcoal and sold to neighbouring South Africa as barbecue charcoal.
South Africa itself (according to the most recent South Africa Yearbook) is plagued with alien plant infestations, totalling more than 10 million hectares, about eight percent (8%) of the country’s land surface area. The rate of spread is alarming and their numbers are projected to double over the next 15 years. More recently Vuthisa Technologies started to convert slashed invasives into charcoal and biochar using Emission Reducing Biochar kilns in a project known as the Vuthisa Biochar Initiative.”
However, charcoal is the primary energy source for urban Africa, but its production is widely informal and unregulated. Consequently, charcoal is entwined with violence against nature through rampant deforestation and violence against vulnerable rural communities, fuelling violent political economies of conflict and extraction.
As they are violently dispossessed of forests and land, communities living in production areas face destruction of their cultural heritage, embodied in nature, and the conditions for economic and political dignity. This undermines possibilities for sustainable peace.
Natural Resource Management in the Kgalagadi landscape is characterized by competition and conflict between conservation goals, economic development and the preservation of livelihoods.
Economic development inevitably leads to trade-offs between land uses, and requires choices to be made between the conversion of forests into anthropogenic land uses such as agriculture, on the one hand, and maintaining natural forests with their inherent ecosystem services.
Botswana to realize its national priorities in environmental management focusing on managing the trade-off between income generation and environmental sustainability. The trade-offs between development and environmental sustainability are becoming more evident in the form of threats to fauna and flora, air pollution and water pollution. Ensuring that sustainable resource extraction levels are within the capacity of the environment to assimilate and regenerate is a key concern.
Global Energy Monitor (GEM) that develops and shares information on energy projects in support of the worldwide movement for clean energy. Has revealed in their 2021 report titled “Deep Trouble; Tracking Global Coal Mine Proposals” that Botswana has 6 Coal Mine Development Projects.
It continues; “The Special Report on 1.5°C by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that CO2 emissions from coal use needs to fall 50 to 80% by 2030 to keep warming well below 2°C. If proposed new mines open as intended, the CO2 emissions from combustion will be equivalent to 4,639 Mt a year, a 14% increase over global CO2 emissions in 2020 (34,100 Mt), barring declines elsewhere.
In addition, the mines will leak an estimated 13.5 Mt of methane each year from broken coal seams and surrounding rock strata, based on coal mine depth and the gas content of the coal seam. Combined, the annual greenhouse gas emissions from proposed coal mines will be between 5,000 and 5,800 Mt of CO2-equivalent (CO2e) each year (for CO2e100 and CO2e20, respectively), comparable to the annual CO2 emissions of the United States (5,100 Mt). The build out of new mines, therefore, raises serious concerns about meeting the Paris climate agreement.”
Science continues to confirm the urgency of climate crisis. The main issue now is that the ‘super powers’ are now realising their contribution to climate change and are devising means to halt the repercussions. Now enters the matter of climate justice; those who are least responsible for climate change suffer the ,most, Botswana has not fully utilised her coal reserves and coal production from wood yet the world is about to phase them out. What about the BORAVAST Trust trying to make a living? The question of the day would be whether an energy transition will be possible in the near future considering that Botswana uses her physical wealth ( coal ) to grow her economy?
This book is a true-life story of an African King based in South Africa. The Last Frontier is a resistance stand by Bakgatla Ba Kgafela tribe and its line of Kings from 1885 against a dark force called ‘western democracy’ that is insidiously destroying lives, peoples, nations and threatens to wipe away whole civilizations in Africa.
The story flows through four important episodes of history, beginning in about 1885 when Bechuanaland Protectorate was formed. This section briefly reveals interactions between Kgosi Linchwe 1 and the British Colonial Government, leading to the establishment of Bakgatla Reserve by Proclamations of 1899 – 1904.
The second episode deals with Kgosi Molefi’s interaction with the British Colonial Government in the period of 1929-36. The third episode records Kgosi Linchwe II’s interactions with the British Colonial Government and black elites of Bechuanaland. It covers the period of 1964-66, leading to Botswana’s independence. Kgosi Linchwe ii resisted the unlawful expropriation of his country (Bakgatla Reserve) by Sir Seretse Kgama’s government of 1966 to no avail. He wrote letters of objection (December 1965) to Her Majesty the Queen of England, which are reproduced in this book.
The fourth episode covers the period between Kgafela Kgafela II’s crowning as King of Bakgatla in 2008 to 2021. It is a drama of the author’s resistance to the present-day Botswana Government, a continuation of Bakgatla Kings’ objection against losing Bakgatla country to the Kgama dynasty assisted by the British Government since 1885. The story is told with reference to authentic letters, documents, and Court records generated during the period of 1885-2019. There is plenty of education in history, law, and politics contained in The Last Frontier for everyone to learn something and enjoy.