Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Read-a-thon Non-Sponsors: Botswana's Safari Companies

As the vice chair of the Writers Association of Botswana (WABO) I've been sitting on the Reading Association of Botswana (RAB)'s organising committee for the upcoming 7th Pan-African Reading Conference to take place from the 11-14th July this year at the University of Botswana. One task I was given was to organise a Read-a-Thon for students in Botswana to get them involved in the conference and to get them reading.

At the Cape Town Book Fair I listened to a woman speak about a reading contest in Ghana where the final prize was a trip to Disney World. Imagine! So I thought at the very least I could get the safari operators and tour businesses up north in the Okavango Delta to sponsor a trip for our winners.

If you don't know, Botswana has a low capacity tourism policy, this means that exclusive, high priced resorts are built so that fewer people can visit the Okavango Delta. What this means for citizens is the vast majority of them will never be able to afford to see the premier tourist attraction in their own country. A sad but true reality. So a trip like this for the most prolific readers would have been incredible.

At the end of last year I sent out emails to about 25 tourism companies including the biggest- Wilderness Safaris. I did follow-up calls and follow-up emails and not a single one offered anything. Not a room, not a flight in, not a tour. Just goes to show what they think about the country from which they earn their very hefty livelihood and the residents that live here. Was I angry about this? Damn right. Am I still? Same answer.

I was so discouraged by this, in fact, it took me quite some time to get my head back in the game afterwards. I decided fine; I would stick to the people I know, the people I understand.

I approached booksellers and newspapers. Businesses barely holding onto their ever dwindling profit margin but yet they stepped right up to the plate without hesitation.

The Voice Newspaper offered the advertising space to put the entry form for four insertions. Modjaji Books (South Africa), Pentagon Publishers and Botswana Book Project donated books. And there are still other publishers I'm sure are going to donate as well. Five Stars and a standing ovation for these companies that really care about the future of our kids!!

Instead of a trip to the Delta, the kids will get books and cash and a trip to Gaborone to receive their prizes at the Conference where 700 international delegates will be there to witness.

700 delegates that might have wanted to visit the Okavango Delta with a tour company that cared about reading, books, and the education of the children of this country. What a missed opportunity!

6 comments:

OneStonedCrow said...

Good Grief! ... a shocking state of affairs ... these Tourism Companies probably don't want the locals mingling with their well-heeled guests ...

... I'm spitting mad just reading this, I can only imagine how you feel ...

We have the same problem in Nam where ordinary citizens are unable to see the beauty of their country ...

Anyway ... well done to those businesses who did respond ...

I think this state of affairs deserves wider publicity.

Roger Brown My Botswana Art said...

Most of the tourist companies are there ,first and foremost to make money.However there are some companies such as wilderness safaris who take groups of local children out to their camps to teach them about the wild etc,If I were you I wouldn't give up you might still find a company that will be willing to sponsor.

Lauri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lauri said...

No I'm not going to try them any longer. I tried my best, they have no interest.

Yahoo- Wilderness takes one group of kids into the bush- give them two lollies and a gold star! This compared to their disgustingly over the top profits! I mean look what the cellphone companies do in this country. They fund football to the tune of millions of Pula and the arts. And there is no way they make profits like the big tourism companies.

The tourism companies in the Delta think they live in their own little country up there run by their own set of rules. You must hear the crap black fully trained Batswana must take from these people, many with no training at all.

No- nna ke lapile thota. I find the entire situation disgusting, and the worst part is most Batswana don't know what is going on up there.

karen said...

wow - a missed opportunity indeed. I was initially surprised that you had no response at all, but then reading further in the comments, various stories I've read and heard over the years did come to mind...

Great that the others gave some support,and good for you for your dedication to getting people reading!!

GutsyWriter said...

Perhaps understanding the concept that if you give something, perhaps you get something in return is something to learn, especially after you mentioned 700 delegates attending.