Botswana: Francistown's Amazing History Worth Preserving

Francistown — Francistown carries an amazing history as it used to be a mining town with cosmopolitan inhabitants and was part of the Cape to Cairo railroad system.

This was said by United States ambassador to Botswana Mr Craig Cloud when officially opening the Collections and Archives building in Francistown November 5.

Giving a keynote address at the event, Mr Cloud said it took time for Francistown to build an archive centre which was important for preserving history for future generations.

He said it took time for people to gather material used in the past for archiving while at the same time preserving historical sites.

Mr Cloud however noted that it was not an easy venture.

He said the embassy donated P390 000 for the construction of Supa Ngwao Museum in Francistown in order to preserve all the fascinating things that happening in the city.

This museum, he said, would help future generations to know the city's history as well as open doors to students doing research adding that it would broaden their scope and imaginations.

By so doing, the students would be in a position to see the value of education and the importance of cultural heritage, said Mr Cloud.

One of the elders, Reverend Modisaotsile Mothibi said initially the city had parallel avenues.

The present Haskins Street, he explained, used to be First Street while Blue Jacket was Second Street.

Rev Mothibi said the streets and avenues were purposely made wide enough for ox-driven wagons to turn in them and in the middle of the town was Market Square, later named Sam Edwards Square.

Regarding the mines, Rev. Mothibi said some were operating in the 1890s with Francistown expected to become a boom town, but fluctuations in gold prices made it impossible.

Another city elder, Ms Janet Habangana explained that the acronym WENELA commonly used in Francistown stands for Witwatersrand Nature Labour Association which played a major role in the development of the city as it had a system of feeding kids in town. She said WENELA took care of its staff and sponsored their children from primary to secondary level, irrespective of where they were admitted.

The association employed about 600 men except a nurse.

A columnist with Sunday Standard newspaper, Mr Richard Moleofe said the first bomb to explode in Botswana was around Francistown in 1915, when the Germans were trying to blow up the bridge that was used by the British when sending reinforcement to Cape Town from Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia.

Mr Moleofe complained that in Botswana history and archiving was not taken seriously citing the documenting and preservation of Police Mobile Unit history.

He suggested that old vehicles that were used by Botswana Defence Force when it started should be kept as monuments.

Source : BOPA

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