So, I was chillin’ out with my shortsighted friend 20/36 at Lounge over the long weekend when we got talking about this vision thing. 20/36 has been on my case because she says I don’t care enough about the future. I keep telling her, why should I bother about tomorrow, I am having fun, today!
Anyway, I said to 20/36, tell me about the vision thing. She said it’s all about a dream of Botswana becoming an Educated, Prosperous, Caring, Democratic, Safe, Moral and Proud Nation. Wait, I said, does that mean at the moment Batswana are uneducated, poor, uncaring and mean!!!
Ah! ah! that’s not what the Vision is about. It’s about what we need to ensure Prosperity for All. I said I couldn’t understand what she was talking about because who would want a Vision which dreamt of Poverty for All by 2036!!!
By now 20/36 was getting fed up, and said there were some people working on the dream to develop plans for the next 20 years. Who are they, I asked, thinking that if they were in the dream business I could ask them for a job, a car, a house and a plot in Phakalane. However, 20/36 said she didn’t know, she just heard something. You mean there are some people we can’t talk to because we don’t know who they are, working on our dreams, reporting to someone we also don’t know? Hell, that’s not a dream, that’s a nightmare, I told her.
All this talk about the future gave me a head ache, so I left 20/36 to pay the bill (she’s already into the vision thing so she must be prosperous while I’ m still poor, or is that mean?), and bummed a ride home from NDP911, a cool planning guy who wears bi-focals which he changes every five (or is it six?) years.
That night, I couldn’t sleep nicely because I kept dreaming of unemployed, but educated Batswana, who were still poor, and becoming un-caring, mean, and intolerant. The sort of fertile environment in which dictators can flourish. Scary!!!
Next day, I tried to hook up with some of my rich friends – yeah, there are some ‘else how do you think the rest of us could survive – only to find most of them were out of town doing the big shopping thing. That set me thinking. What is it that rich people have that I don’t have? Money to spend, and time to spend it. And what do they do with that cash and time. They shop and have fun!!
So where is this biggest shopping, fun thing? Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong, no – wait for it – Alberta, Canada, at a place called West Endmonton. About 25 years ago, a couple of property developers went to this city of less than a 1 million people in the bush and asked for land to build the biggest shopping centre in the world. Now that is dreaming! Shoppers are flown in from all over the world to a 50-hectare indoor site with close to a 1000 stores, hotels, casinos, entertainment centres. And what did Edmonton get out of it. Job, jobs, jobs and more jobs. Check it out for yourself at Westedmontonmall.com.
Dubai is another shoppers’ paradise for those post-industrial society guys with time and money on their hands. Fifty years ago, the people in Dubai were herding camels just as we Batswana were herding cattle. Now their camels race for millions of dollars in one of the world’s fastest growing, and diversified economy, while we Batswana are still herding cattle (well, that’s not quite true, we hire Zimbabweans, who are more impoverished than we are, to herd the cattle!!).
But, hell, those Dubai people can dream!!! Caught something on the Discovery Channel about the Burg Al Arab – the only 7-star hotel in the world. And the world’s largest indoors skiing centre. Where? In Dubai. An indoor skiing centre in the desert, now that is dreaming!! What you might call a Du-Bian!!!
Why, I thought to myself, can’t Botswana have its own Du-bians? My short-sighted chick 20/36 says that ‘Botswana needs bold strategies to grow into the future’. If camel herders can dream why can’t cattle herders (Batswana that is, not the Zimbabweans). Why can’t we have the biggest, or the best, or the only? All it takes is ideas and the money. Money may be short, but at least we can borrow. There are these Standard and Poors guys who say we have a sovereign credit rating and lending money to Botswana is a good risk.
Personally, I am tired to hearing that the rest of the world think Botswana has the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world (in which case we all should be dead by now) and that we allegedly ill treat little people who are said to be dreaming of running around in animal skins and shooting wild animals with bows and arrows for the rest of their lives.
I have a dream – a Du-Bian – if you wish. We are the world’s biggest producer of diamonds. Why can’t we have Africa’s (and the world’s) biggest shopping and entertainment centre based on jewellery. After all Dubai started its shopping paradise on gold, and it doesn’t even have any gold. We have diamonds pouring out of the ground, but the industry barely creates 10 000 jobs. Developing an up-market – Gucci, Luis Vitton, Amarni, Brabus type upmarket – shopping centre based on jewellery, but selling anything and everything else under the sun, would create thousands of jobs and would bring shoppers from around the world.
A mammoth, duty free shopping and entertainment centre near the airport with hotels, casinos swimming pools, camel rides (!!!), and a world class convention centre. Visitors could then be ferried to the Chobe and Ngamiland and give a boost to our tourism industry still languishing in the swamp of mediocrity.
Botswana, The World’s Only, and Biggest, Shopping and Wildlife experience – this is my Du-Bian dream.
Do you have a dream to wake up Botswana from our catatonic economic deep sleep? Send us you ‘big idea’ for Botswana, your ‘Du-bian’ dream!! We will publish one each month ‘till the end of 2017 year and Gazette readers will then vote for what they feel is the best dream – the big idea, or ideas – to take Botswana forward so that my short-sighted friend 20/36 can see the light!!, and NDP11 does not have to change his bi-focals in 2021.
‘Du-Bians’ should be around 800 to a 1000 words and e-mailed to email@example.com, or posted to The Editor, Botswana Gazette at P.O. Box 1605, Gaborone.