Since last Thursday a strike has been brewing among undergraduate students at the University of Botswana. The students are upset about the following issues (there may be more but this is what I am aware of):
- Students who failed courses last year are not getting their government allowances for retaking those courses
- Students are being forced to live on campus even though some of them want to live off campus
- No students have received their monthly allowance for February yet (this is what really set off the strike on Monday)
So the past few days a group of 500-1000 students have been holding rallies and marching around campus with sticks forcing others out of class, closing down the cafeteria and the library. Many students tried to go to class, but we were chased and told to go back to our rooms or join the strike. I tried to take pictures of the strikers one time. Big mistake. They chased me but luckily I was on my bike, and I don’t think they meant any harm, they just wanted to cheer when I left.
So today, I was at the Baylor Children’s Clinical Center of Excellence (they specialize in pediatric HIV/AIDS) volunteering and someone told me the university is being closed by the government. I rushed back to the graduate dorms to find a few ground level windows busted out and riot police.
So no class for the indefinite future. Here are some pictures I could sneak from the window.
broken windows at the University of Botswana graduate dorms
riot police on campus
students evacuating campus
OK, so it has been more than two months, but it certainly does not feel like it. Bellow is a report I submitted to the Rotary Foundation to prove a) I have been fulfilling my Ambassadorial duties b) Have not ran off with their money to Morocco.
Some of the stories will be familiar from this blog, but I tried to offer some insight and ideas I know I have not posted here yet. It is a long read for a blog post, but if you have some time try to scan it and see if anything catches your attention. Also, I am going to update my Flickr photos in the next couple of days, so check back there to see some visual representation of everything I talk about in this post.
This is the table where where William Wilberforce sat with fellow British Abolitionists to draft legislation to end the slave trade and later emancipate all bonded human beings held in the British Empire. This surprise find in a Cape Town museum is not something I will easily forget.
Rotary 2 Month Report
If a picture is worth a thousand words then an experience is worth at least a few typed single spaced pages. My experience in Botswana began before I arrived as I read Botswana newspapers and histories in an attempt to make myself somewhat versed in Batswana cultue. My perceptions of what I would find in southern Africa have been challenged, affirmed, and blown out of the water on a daily basis. This report should serve as a window not only into what I have been involved in, but also how my thought process has been shaped by experiences in university, Rotary, volunteering, and travel.
Check out the tab to the page “Travel” I have added about my excursion to Cape Town a couple of weeks ago. Also, check back tomorrow evening for an update about the Sowa Pans. I paid a visit to this place last week. Then a few days after that I will be commenting on my impressions thus far of education at the University of Botswana.
Rafa and I after the logo unvailing. They had mopane worms in the buffet line. Much better than the mice.
Today was a big day for the University of Botswana. They unveiled the long awaited and much whispered about new logo and new website. Some controversy surrounded the purchase and million dollar change over of old logo to new as the design work was contracted to a South African company and the argument is made that money could be better spent elsewhere. But as valid as these points may be they do not jive with a concerted effort by the Government of Botswana and administrators at UB to “market” the university to not just Africa, but the world. This event, described as a “branding” (appropriate considering the significance of the cattle industry in Botswana) of the university, is the introduction of a “symbol” for a product. So at what point does a public university become a commodity to buy rather than a government service for students to earn?