Botswana - Settled In

Se Ke Seromamowa Sa Botswana

Settled In

Work during those first two years is a blur of fixing Uher tape recorders, recording traditional music, speeches and dancing at village meetings, recharging flat batteries and occasional visits to the rather dubious "hi-fi" stores in Johannesburg to buy spares for the studios. (That's how they had acquired the ice-cream van amplifier).

Travelling to South Africa was an experience in itself. Remember that this was deep in the apartheid era and it was very unpleasant to cross into a country where such naked prejudice was displayed. Fortunately the Botswana number plates on the car helped a bit, particularly if I spoke a few words of Setswana when buying petrol, for example.

Incidentally, the first car I acquired was a bit of a mistake. It was an Opel Kadett, which seemed a reasonable purchase as we approached winter and was the sort of size I considered appropriate. Everyone else (I thought) was being very ostentatious, with enormous air-conditioned gas-guzzlers. We soon realised our mistake, when it became clear that there were only two Kadetts in the country (so there were no spares) and cooling was actually quite a good thing when the summer temperature reached 43 degrees Celsius. Then there was the occasion when I had to use a bottle of lemonade to put out the fire in the engine (caused by brake fluid dripping onto the exhaust manifold). . . The car smelt of caramel for weeks afterwards.

Towards the end of our first 30-month tour of duty and after Botswana celebrated its 10th Anniversary, I was promoted to Chief Engineer when the man who had recruited me left "in a bit of a hurry". It gave Pru and me the confidence to start a family and our daughter Siân was born during our first leave back in the UK. I was then to be known as "Rra-go-Siân" (father of Siân) following the custom of acquiring status based on your children. Ted had just returned from college in the UK to become my immediate deputy and we soon realised that we made a great team.

Radio Botswana badly needed to be brought into the 1970's with modern studios and new equipment. I took the opportunity to visit lots of manufacturers in Europe during my leave in 1977. At that time, there was not a lot of money available for development but if you could justify the expenditure, you usually got it.

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