But natural resources run out, sometimes sooner, sometimes later. What can follow them to prolong the country's stability?
In a different context, Confucius had the answer: "If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children."
My headmaster when I was in high school in Johannesburg was Deane Yates, a man for whom we all felt a modicum of fear. We called him Blogs. When he left the school, he went to Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, to found a school to educate the children of Botswana for the future.
|Founder Deane Yates with wife Dorothy|
Built on twenty hectares of land given to the school by the President of Botswana, Sir Seretse Khama, it is truly a gem, not only in Botswana, but throughout Africa. Rather than listing its amazing results here, I direct you to its website.
What I want to tell you about is the impression it has left on me on various visits over the past ten years.
First, having come from racially segregated South Africa and having lived in a so-called integrated USA, I've never been to a school where people of different backgrounds don't let the differences get in the way. Whether staff or students, people are not White, Black, etc., they are people The school shows what could be, given an environment where differences are valued and not denigrated.
|3 of 15 finalists for the Southern African De Beers English Olympiad |
came from Maru-a-Pula: Nandini Kochar, Tawanda Mulalu and Vamika Sinha
Third, like the school I attended, St.John's College, an emphasis is placed on producing graduates with a rounded background. Music, sport, community service are required, as well as commitment to studying. Maru-a-Pula's website tells you of the academic success it has, as well as the marimba band that has toured the world (click here to listen to the kids playing and really enjoying themselves in California), the remarkable annual festival of music - Maitisong, and the sporting achievements.
|The Marimba Band|
|The 2012 Marimba Band|
|Student art projects are displayed around campus|
|Art is displayed on many walls - outside for all to see|
|Maru-a-Pul is proud to be African|
|New books in the library|
|Maru-a-Pula gets support from many sources|
Fourth, the school is a place of beauty, not the beauty that one dreams about, but a beauty appropriate to an arid climate. People who live where there is little water will approve that every building has large water-storage barrels catching the rare rainwater that comes of the roofs. There is little grass and, like Kubu's garden at home, a lot of succulents.
Finally, I knew Deane Yates, the founder, and David Matthews, Maru-a-Pula's second headmaster, who also taught me in high school. And since writing about Botswana in the Detective Kubu series, I have got to know the current principal, Andy Taylor, an American by birth and a citizen of the world. He has so impressed me in different ways: his commitment to a rounded education being the necessary basis of good governance and democracy; his willingness to open doors for us and introduce us to some of Botswana's remarkable people; and his friendship and hospitality. Michael feels the same about him, so we dedicated A Death in the Family to him.
|Headmaster Andy Taylor|
|Every writers motto - on the wall of Andy Taylor's office:|
No day without a line!
Stan - Thursday