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Multimillion Pula ivory sculpture unveiled at SSKB airport

In a historic event that put on view a public art which is an element of tourism at the Sir Seretse Khama Airport (SSKB), President Khama unveiled a multimillion pula sculpture which resembles a life-size elephant made of ivory. The sculpture is a symbol of Botswana’s position in the protection of its natural resources, particularly the management and protection of the country’s valued elephant resources.

The 2, 5 life-size elephant sculpture, made entirely of ivory tasks which are reportedly of elephants which died from natural causes will greet visitors arriving at the airport. The sculpture was designed at the cost of over P200 000 with assistance of Thapong Visual Centre artists.

While officiating at the event, president Khama said the sculpture was intended to raise the country’s collective consciousness about the plight confronting the African elephant. The most recent estimate of elephant numbers in Africa, from 2007, is between 472,000 and 600,000 and around a third of them are within the borders of Botswana.

Poaching of elephants has increased in the past three years with the rising demand for Ivory in Asia, mostly China.  On average, only 38 elephants are killed by poachers in Botswana. The erection and placement of the significant sculpture at Botswana’s capital City airport is symbolic, as it represents the international dimension of the illegal ivory trade.

According to President Khama much of the ivory that leaves the borders of African elephant range states find its way out in the cargo holds of aircraft and the baggage of passengers and warned airport employees to help curb this crime.

The president commended the efforts by Prince William and the Royal Foundation, who recently set up a task force that will work to shut down the transport arteries of the criminal syndicates who run the illegal ivory trade.

Khama also called upon countries that conserve elephants—the range states—in Africa to join the Elephant Protection Initiative. Launched by the Botswana government, this project strives, among other things, to close all domestic ivory markets. “Legal ivory trade cannot and must not be used to launder the illegal ivory in the hands of the criminal syndicates,” he said.

Credit was given to the six Thapong artists who worked on the ivory sculpture which took them three full months under the coordination of one Joseph Piet.

 Khama congratulated all those involved in the work. He said the elephant “will serve as a reminder to all who pass through this building that one live elephant is worth so much more than all the pieces of art made from ivory gathering dust in homes far removed from the African plains.”  

MEWT Minister, Tshekedi Khama whose ministry is responsible for environmental and sustainable development was previously quoted in media reports saying that the country decided not to burn the ivory like other countries but instead put it to good use and recognise the role of elephants in the country’s biodiversity. “If we burn the ivory, it is almost like we never cared about the animals,” he had said.

Poaching of elephants is one of the biggest challenges faced by the ministry. The country however enjoys a relatively better record for protection of its wildlife against poaching.

The Government of Botswana convened a summit to discuss the plight of the African elephant with the International Union for Conservation of Nature in December 2013.

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.



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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.


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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.


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