Se Ke Seromamowa Sa Botswana

Where, Did You Say..?

In 1974 I was working for the BBC at Radio Manchester but getting itchy feet. An advert appeared in Wireless World (as it was then) for the post of "Senior Technical Officer" at Radio Botswana - the duties and salary looked similar to what I was doing in Manchester but like most people I had no idea where it was. Grabbing an atlas I suggested to my (then) wife Pru that it might be fun to go for it, not really thinking that I would get the job. This was confirmed a few weeks later when I received a polite letter thanking me for my application but apologising that the advertisement I had seen had appeared in error a month late and the post was now filled.
map showing Gaborone
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That was the end of the matter, I thought - but 24 hours later a second letter arrived, calling me for interview! It transpired that the expatriate "Chief Technical Officer" (Civil Service titles were to haunt me for the next 10 years) had come back to the UK, heard about the late advert, didn't like the candidate who'd been chosen (by UK agents) and demanded to see the late applications. Four months later I was on my way first-class to Southern Africa on the liner "Oranje".

S.A. Oranje (28625 tons)
S.A. Oranje
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I arrived in Cape Town just a few days before Christmas and travelled by rail 36 hours and 1000 miles north-east to Gaborone - Botswana's brand-new purpose-built capital stuck on the edge of the Kalahari desert.

Pru joined me a month or so later, incidentally also sailing on the Oranje but enduring a much worse journey than mine due to gales in the Bay of Biscay. On the trip after hers, the "Oranje" caught fire: it was scrapped shortly afterwards!

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