Category Archives: Supporting the Public Sector

Botswana Consumer Fair

Last Thursday I took a bike ride to check out the Botswana Consumer Fair.  This is an annual event where producers from all of Botswana, and some from South Africa, display their products for consumers and dealers in Botswana.  It was not difficult to find as all I had to do was walk with the rest of the masses assuming we were all going to the same place.  Combie (15 passenger vans) prices went up so more people are walking now.  I noticed plenty of parents with kids and some people even stopped me and asked I take their picture. 

...and now they are on the internet.  Who coulda guessed?

...and now they are on the internet. Who coulda guessed?

It cost around 3 USD to get into the consumer fair, but it was so big I bet someone found a way to get in for free.  The first thing that caught my eye was a carnival set up just like it would be in the U.S. Farris Wheel, mini roller coaster, spinning vomit inducing rides ect.  Then I noticed just about everyone eating ice cream.  And if they were not eating it they were holding 2-5 pints looking somewhat confused as what to do to keep it from freezing.  The ice cream companies were at the fair and had a promotion price of around 5 Pula per pint, which is less than 90 cents a pint.  So I got some ice cream too, and it was good.

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Haiti: What we need to do

This is not a call for money.  This is a call for digital advocacy like never seen before.

Haiti’s recent disaster came at the unfortunate media timing of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.  Perhaps this is why you might be caught unawares that 500,000 lives are at a unique risk of ending prematurely in the next 24-72 hours.  Only an immediate concerted force of individual digital action can hope to steer media attention, political leadership, and economic resources to save human life.  

Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna have flooded the city of Gonaives Haiti.  You probably have not seen pictures of the devastation because the city has been made completely inaccessible from dry land by these storm waters.  Gonaives is now an epicenter for violent deaths of dehydration, malaria, typhoid, tuberculosis, and starvation.  The only reason you have not read about the certainly thousands of people who have already died is because no one is there to count the bodies except those lucky enough to escape to rooftops and treetops.  Thousands more are certain to perish if an international effort is not made to evacuate the city, feed the hungry, and give medical care to the sick.

The 2004 Tsunami and the earthquakes in Pakistan and China have taught us that if we use the already available resources to rescue those trapped and bring care to those who are unable to be rescued we can save hundreds of thousands of lives from the fatal lingering impacts of severe devastation.  There is no longer a question of “Are we able?”  The only relevant is “Are we willing?”  We have to be willing. 

Where there is a will there is a way.  Because the national political community has yet to respond to the immediacy of this human emergency we must act within the next 24-72 hours to make them do so.  Our way is the digital media.  We need the crisis in Haiti to go viral in more ways than infectious disease.  We need you to  Vlog, iReport on CNN, write front page Blog posts, email letters to your editor and, put Haiti on your twitter and as always, flood your elected representatives with demands for restoring the human right of life to our Haitian brothers and sisters. 

Points of Information

  1. -Haiti has been hit by three tropical cyclones in as many weeks
  2. -Over 500,000 people are at immediate risk of death
  3. -There must be immediate delivery of foreign aid in the form of money and food
  4. -There must be immediate transport of refugees from the floodwaters
  5. 1 minute video and article  

If there has ever been a test of the power of good in the digital age it is upon us.  If we are able to shape political agendas, to effect the distribution of resources, and to guide the eyes of the media then we are able to end human suffering, restore human dignity, and prove, with certainty, that the relevancy of digital media is paramount in shaping modern human discourse. 

As the poor remain stuck on the rooftops and in the treetops of Gonaives watching dead bodies float by, as farmers survey their stripped land and decide which members of their family will get to eat this month, as Hurricane Ike threatens to deliver a knock out blow to the population of Haiti in a matter of days let us be loud, let us be unyielding, and let us succeed in proving we are the change we have been waiting for.

We control digital content, so lets do it.

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Take a look, it’s in a book…

When was the last time you went to the library?  How many people were there?  Seriously, leave a comment.

I went to the library in Gaborone a week ago.  I was not expecting much.  The last library I went to outside of the United States, in St. Marc Haiti, had a worse selection than most dentist’s waiting rooms.  So to say my expectations were exceeded is an understatement. 

This is the library full to the point where people are sitting on the floor...this was at 10am on Thursday.
This is the library full to the point where people are sitting on the floor…this was at 10am on Thursday.

Sorry for the blurry picture, but I wanted to respect everyone’s privacy. 


The point is that the library was full beyond capacity, mostly with people aged from early teens to late 20’s.  One explanation for this is that it is very difficult to get a library card to check out books.  It requires passport photos, proof of cell phone contract (few people use contracts with their cell phone), professional references, and a deposit.  Even with these barriers to access people still flood the library on a daily basis to read what they can during opening hours since they cannot take materials home.  It made me really happy to see a library so full and a government service so valued. 

The Central Gaborone Library is not large.  It is housing in the City Council complex and was built at the end of the 1960’s.  I guess around 8,000 square feet….3 large rooms of books and reading tables.  They also have a film collection, periodicles, newspapers, reference materials…basically it was familiar to me as any small town library in the U.S.  There is going to be a project started soon by the African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnership that will add free wireless to all libraries in Botswana.  This should help close the digital divide for those with access to libraries, but more work needs to be done to help those that do not. 
OFFICAL Botswana Library Service Mission Statement:
The Mission statement for the National Library is to provide information to all, nation-wide by means of an efficient and effective library service. The National Library Service aims at developing an efficient system of information storage and retrieval and providing a nation-wide library and information service in order to support and promote formal and informal education and to facilitate recreation and cultural enrichment. It also promote the preservation, conservation and usage of the National documented cultural heritage by developing a National Bibliographic Control system and service. The national Library provides the following services, Public Library Services; Educational Library Services; Special Library Services and Services for the Disabled.