All entries for Thursday 19 March 2009

March 19, 2009

No.1 Ladies' Opera House restaurant, Gaborone, Botswana

Follow-up to Botswana – yes, it really is quite like McCall Smith, Minghella and Curtis say it is from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Lovely place. Out past Kgale Sidings, cows roaming around the street un-herded. If you're ever in Gabs and have a spare afternoon, try the seswaa pancakes - but watch out for bones! It's a really great dish, a unique flavour. I'm told that it's impossible to make outside of the Kalahari. Something to do with herbs that grow nowhere else in the world.

seswaa pancake

Lawrence loved playing in the cattle-trough turned water-feature...

Water feature

And Mma Emma sat in the shade looking like a no.1 lady...

Mma Emma

I'm told that they also sometimes do opera!

Botswana – yes, it really is quite like McCall Smith, Minghella and Curtis say it is

"Rose tinted view of Africa." - Kirsty Lang, Front Row today - SAID IT AGAIN!

Every review or article about the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency TV shows expresses that same prejudice. "Surely Africa isn't like that". Richard Curtis tried his best to correct the misapprehension. He mentioned Comic Relief, and how some of the images of Africa that it portrayed may have left a lasting impression of the continent being all poverty and disease. Perhaps his work on the Lady Detective series will help us to forget those pictures.

But only if we can get this message across: Botswana really is a good, friendly, warm, cheerful place. And much of the rest of Africa is too.

Opera House
Click image to enlarge
Lawrence playing detectives outside of the No. 1 Ladies Opera House, Gaborone

I've been visiting Gaborone every year since 1993. My wife grew up there. We were both amazed at how precisely the TV films represents Botswana and the Batswana (so far as TV can accurately represent anything). The detail is quite extraordinary - pictures on the wall that you would only ever see in Botswana, furniture, cars, buildings, the way in which people talk to each other, their facial expressions, the gay hairdresser - IN MY EXPERIENCE ALL MALE HAIRDRESSERS IN BOTSWANA ARE GAY! - or at least they pretend to be - the one's that I've met. And that's no problem, it's a tollerant and peaceful country.

Yes, it is true true that the films focus on certain areas and aspects of Gaborone life. But we aren't really interested in seeing the traffic jams on the Tlokweng Road or the massive high-tech shopping malls that have mushroomed in the last few years. But no TV film ever pretends to represent a whole country in one go.

MCall Smith, Minghella, Curtis - ke itumetse borra!