Friday, November 30, 2007

Miss Botswana and Wearing a Skirt

Sunday morning for the first time I head out on my own, walking along the dirt track to the main road, where I find a bus going into town. It’s actually quite refreshing, as I’ve been feeling guilty about being chauffeured everywhere. I still don’t have a great feel for the geography of Gabs, mainly because I don’t have a map to refer to as we drive around, but I am beginning to piece together the place, plus people are really helpful when you ask them which combi minibus taxi to take to a particular place.

Over at Riverwalk, I head up to 25 Degrees, where the owner, Mr Sharma, remembers me and greets me warmly. Their power is out, but he promises to prepare food anyway, though in fact it’s soon back. Khumo finally turns up, and we wait a short while for the food to come, a minor disaster as she has a bus back to Francistown at 1pm, giving us about 15-20 minutes to eat a full Indian meal, with starters, mains, lassi etc. Quite a mission, and we end up asking for a substantial part of it take away. Khumo likes her first Indian food experience. Good.

We rush out having paid, and I assume we’ll take a cab. There are none to be seen though, so Khumo takes me down to where the combis leave from. We have about 5 minutes! There is one filling up (they wait until full before leaving), but I say we should hop in an already-full one that is just stopping to let people off, as they’ll leave immediately. Nope, we sit and wait 5-10 minutes for this one to leave. Khumo thinks we still have a chance. At the station, we dash across the footbridge, it’s now 15 past, surely the bus will have gone. On arrival, it turns out that in fact there are later buses, grrrr! Why did we have to wolf our food down?!

Khumo leaves, and I hop on a bus going back to Phakalane, which is roasting hot. I’m sitting waiting for it to leave when Lebu, who I’d met at the music thing yesterday, appears, so we chat for a bit. It’s such a small place, Gabs, that I can understand how you can’t go anywhere without meeting people, especially when it comes to going out, when there are half a dozen venues that everyone goes to, almost every night! (Venue guide coming soon!)

Back home, I enjoy some quiet time, after having a video conference with Grandma Daphne, who is 80 today! Happy Birthday Gran!! There seems to be some amusement that I still haven’t had a hair-cut, and Gran just wants to know when I’m coming home. I’m on my way, Gran! Thabiso rings and tells me he’ll pick me up at 4pm. I’ll be ready by 5:30 I reply, to which he laughs. Of course, he turns up at 6pm. We drive around for a bit (as usual), before arriving at a BBQ being held by some of his very old school friends.

One chap seems to be mad about my Afro haircut. Almost intimidatingly so! Anyway, the food is good, simple meat, sausage, pap, stew, and salad, and just what is required. It would seem in Botswana that garden parties are the thing to do, and why not when you have fairly reliable good weather like they have here. The only issue tends to be it being too hot, which is why you lounge about doing nothing until the sun goes down!

Another tourist, Vinnie, from South Africa, joins us as we head on to the next place, a party being given by the owner of the Lizard Lounge club. Again a really nice atmosphere, with kids dancing on one side, lots of people milling about chatting, or dancing. The music is impressively loud, as you would expect from a club owner! Thabiso chats with his bank manager. Apparently he never has to go to the bank, as he meets this chap in clubs or parties – tells him what he needs, the bank manager agrees, and if necessary Thabiso pops into the bank the following day to sign the papers. Personal banking at its best!

Now for the potential highlight of the evening, we’re off to Miss Botswana, being held at Gabarone Sun, an upmarket hotel and conference centre. This is actually the second time the competition had been staged, as last time they had to cancel it because one of the girls had her main dress go missing. I’m afraid that my Canon had run out of batteries at a very bad time, so the best I can offer is a grainy shot from my mobile:

The auditorium is dark when we arrive, and adverts are being shown on screens at the side. Soon the girls come back out, and the final six are nominated. I’m not sure I agree with all of the judges choices, but there are some very pretty girls up there. The remaining six are asked the following question: “Why is Botswana called the Diamond of Africa?”, and it is in answering this that one sees the performance of most of them fall apart – some ask to have the question repeated again, others forget the phrase “Diamond of Africa” and so say “Botswana is called (pause) *that*“. I’m not sure if it’s nerves or lack of brains, but it’s noteworthy that the only sensible answers are being given by a girl who is at UB (University of Botswana) doing Political Sciences.

Next question is “How should Botswana use its strategic position for the 2010 World Cup”, which again is a shambles as some girls completely miss the point and waffle, before concluding that “that is all I have to say” and walking off. I know there must be some pressure being up there, but this is what these girls do – most of them list “modelling” as their primary talent! So no surprise that the 18 year old who answered so well, and in fact is very tall and quite pretty too, wins. I think No.2 and 3 were ranked the wrong way around, but No.3 fluffed the last question completely, so it had to be this way around.

Next we pick up Janet, who for once finished at the time she said she would, and is waiting.


We go back to the Lizard Party for a bit, before the Beach Party at Ozone. What a strange concept, as Botswana is landlocked, so there are no beaches. Furthermore, it was quite empty, and so not much of a party either. And the most bizarre aspect at all, was that one could say it was actually cold! Certainly chilly and there was a breeze blowing through. Who would have thought that one would be cold during a beach party in sunny Botswana?!

In the morning, Herbert picks me up, and we go back to Thabiso’s place, where I find that finally Chotki loves me, yay! No more being eaten! I’m still slightly cautious though, in case she forgets me. And the key test will be a night-time approach to the big metal gate, then we’ll find out if we’ve truly broken the ice between us.

Out to Riverwalk, Janet and I go shopping for a bit, and I pick up an orange stripy t-shirt, as my signature white and blue one has some dodgy stains. I wanted to buy some others, in Afro colours - Green, brown, white, orange etc, but Janet told me not to! We lunch with pizza at Debonair, and Mr Sharma spots me and says hello, this is getting embarrassing! Malebo picks us up, and takes me home for shower. I find dear Suko has taken all of my clothes to wash them, and is busy making an interesting bean dish. Today I’m going to wear my longyi, or sarong skirt. Suko doesn’t believe it.

I play some of my music as we head into town, including Lemonjelly’s Ramblin’ Man. The afternoon passes with nasty storms overhead, watching the Africaans 7de Laan soap, and in the evening we go to the Bull and Bush, where one of Thabiso’s friends is throwing money about, buying us all drinks. As usual, I’m on the Hansa.

Next day, Thabiso drives down to a recording studio. This weekend he is hosting a “Cleavage Party” in a venue north of here, and needs to hack the radio advert he used for the last one. His friend has a proper sound studio.

So Thabiso puts on his manic party voice, throwing his arms around the air and rerecording the bits with the date and venue name.

The price has also changed, and he hits on an idea to include me in the list of MCs (he bolts on “UK Sam” to the list of names, and make me do part of the jingle, so I find myself inside the room with the brief to say “30 bucks gets you in, baby”. I’m not convinced I have the voice for this, but after a few attempts, they use my voice just for “30 bucks gets you in”, as my baby just doesn’t cut it (sorry girls). The premise of the party is that if girls are showing off their cleavage they get in for cheaper the whole night.

As to how me MCing will work. Well, I’m not at all sure about that. Thabiso tells me it will all be fine as long as I don’t say “ni**er”, that strange word that black people use all the time to refer to themselves, but white people are not allowed to say – then he paints a picture of the music stopping abruptly, angry stares from several hundred people, tumbleweed blowing across the dancefloor, and me being torn to pieces. Okay, I’ll stay off racism!! All I can hope is that it’s quietly forgotten that I’m supposed to be doing anything involving the microphone. Unless I can get hold of Seamus for some tips before Saturday.

No comments: