Our so-called National Stadium declares to the world that we are a hopeless lot, writes LAWRENCE OOKEDITSE
I know this seems to be about sport and may confuse some of you. But there is no need to be confused. This is actually more about our national pride and identity.
South Africa’s Orlando Pirates came to play a soccer match agaisnt Jwaneng Galaxy at the National Stadium. A South African official was then widely cited as having said our National Stadium is a shame beciase it resembles a plougiing field. The bathrooms are a disgrace, as are the stands.
His observation is truth and nothing else but the truth. The old monument resembles a relic from World War 1. Botswana must learn to build infrastructure for future generations and to make it a work of art, not merely to tick boxes. We need to construct perhaps small but iconic facilities and not these kraals all over the place.
The National Stadium merely ticks a box. It is a facility that gets mentioned for the country to appear to have a national stadium. It is a relic from the past whose existence brings shame and not joy. As a country, we must refuse to be defined by such things. Stadia, airports and tourism establishments, among others, are a representations of us to the word.
Those with an understanding of diplomacy know the importance of soft power. By soft power we mean the ability to appeal to others and even influence them with just what you have and how you carry yourself. The US, for instance, is a global superpower not merely because they have superior military capabilities; their super power status is also borne of their cultural influence. It is the influence of their ideals of liberty and prosperity. The American Dream, though some say it has faded, is what makes that country trick. It is ideals and representations of greatness that makes civilizations great.
We need to quickly catch up with the world on this score. We can no longer remain that country that presents itself as a basket case to be pitied. Being that humble little country in southern Africa that gives itself nothing is no longer an attraction and acceptance of our status as poor needs to come to an end. We need to project finese and ambition to the world. But our museums, like our National Stadium do not project hope and ambition.
They are a picture of despair; of a people that has accepted that its fate is to not be great but to see greatness in others and weakness in itself. This country needs to earn to punch above its weight. It needs to show ambition and some form of urgency at catching up with the world to occupy its place under the shine. It starts with building for the future and building facilities that demonstrate our ambition and perception of ourselves.
That so-called National Stadium, sadly, says to the world that we are a hopeless lot. I would not like to believe that this is what we are. Yet it is the impression we give the world. It needs to change!