Saturday, October 25, 2008
“Hey Wait I Own That!”
People outside of Botswana probably know little about the recent ruckus in the country over alcohol. Since our new president, President Ian Khama, took power he has been threatening to sort out the country in terms of alcohol. It is a well know secret that he does not drink and has a hatred for the stuff, believing it is the root of many of the country’s ills. He’s not far off base perhaps, but history has proven closing up bars and shebeens and making alcohol illegal does not stop people from drinking, but rather changes drinkers into law breakers and pushes the industry underground leading to all the problems associated with underground illegal activities.
Most recently the government began the process to introduce a 70% levy on alcohol to push it out of the economic reach of most people. The major brewery in the country took the government to court and somewhere during the process the government discovered that they are the major shareholder in this brewery. OOPS!
The government has also stopped bars, butcheries, and liquor stores from setting up braai stands (barbecue stands) where people can braai meat when they’re drinking, a very common practice in the country, hoping somehow that if there is no meat there will be no alcohol.
Poking fun at these issues is well known poet, Barolong Seboni in his column in Mmegi called ‘Nitty Gritty’. Of late, he has been giving us weekly instalments of “A Political Dictionary of Botswana” explaining the real definitions, as per Mr Seboni, of political terms in the country. Very funny indeed. For example: Speaker of the House: a man who makes sure members of the house sleep peacefully without disturbing the budget speech, only to wake up and demand more pay.
Seboni added quite a few terms this week having to do with Khama’s anti-liquor campaign. Here are a few hooters.
Meat: a red piece of food item, high in protein with a 70% chance of making you drunk and disorderly when eaten in the vicinity of a bar or a braai stand
Braai Stand: a piece of equipment that is essentially harmless until you stand it next to bar or butchery, then it becomes a weapon of mass intoxication (or WOMIN)
Braai Standers: suspicious looking characters usually lurking outside bars and butcheries about to cause havoc and disturb the peace by grilling meat on a braai stand
Beer Industry: a key industry in which government has a major stake, where trouble is brewed
Liquor Bill: a bill that has moved from a 70% to a 30 % chance of becoming law
To Be Bottled Up In A Beer Can: this is an idiomatic expression that will soon find its way into out daily language. It means to introduce heavy taxes on liquor only to find that you own the beer industry