While I have been so busy writing about Zanzibar, I haven’t had a chance to talk about one of my favourite men! Tabuche, of course! It was not until January 8 that we actually got to see each other after a two and half week separation.
As I was working from home all week (the BONASO paid staff were all of leave) so it was easier to work from home on some mind numbing work that I had to do. However, I couldn’t imagine letting a whole week go by with spending time with one of my favourite Motswanas. Tuesday morning I decided to take a quick break from my work and make a visit to the post office to post some items.
A quick phone call to Tabuche and I was assured that he would be happy to pick me up in less than 15 minutes. Waiting outside my gate with an armful of things to post, I am not sure who was smiling more when he pulled up. Him or me! It was certainly nice to know that he missed me as much as I did him.
His hair that he had shaved just before I left is growing back. When I had questioned as to why he had shaved it, I wondered if it was for a religious reason, he assured me that no, it was only so he could have new hair for the new year. I like that concept. He is a handsome man but I have to admit that I like how he looks much better with hair than without. Yes, bald is sexy but I just like Tabuche better with hair than without.
And just because he is Motswana, doesn’t mean that I can’t tell him so. He often compliments me when I am wearing something that he really likes. Most notably when I look like a lady! He really likes that – which makes me wonder, do I not look like a lady most days???? But actually, I have determined that he usually compliments me when I am especially happy, not necessarily dressed up. As he did yesterday when he picked me up to take me to a friend’s house for dinner. I was wearing my bright pink scarf and smiling, he immediately told me that I looked beautiful. Now you know why he is my friend!!! I also informed him that other drivers, I had in Tanzania accompanied me shopping…we both agreed that would tax our friendship and agreed that he never be asked to fill that role.
Any way, I digress. We had lots to catch up on. He wanted to know about my trip and I wanted to hear all about his trip home to his village and the work that he did with his brothers on his father’s cattle farm. See while I was going to “rest” okay, we all knew I wouldn’t rest but I could relax, Tabuche was going to work just as hard if not harder than he does here in Gaborone. He works six days a week with his first pick ups at 6 am or earlier in the morning and answers my calls until 10 pm at night. Plus, up until this year, he and his wife grew vegetables on a plot outside of Gaborone and his wife sold them to supplement their income.
His father supports himself through raising cattle and goats. Cattle are big business here and beef is exported to other countries. Most of the cattle (that are not wandering the streets of Gaborone) are located outside of the villages in cattle posts. Often these cattle posts are 10 to 15 kms away from where the owners live. Tabuche has told me stories of how when he was 9 and 10 years he would bicycle to the cattle post with his father. This was a huge achievement, as you had to rise early in the day to leave before the sun got too hot and the terrain that you cover is hot, dusty and there is no relief from the heat and sun. Although he has four brothers who mostly are older than him, he was the one that regularly made the trip with his father. This is further evidence that his work ethic has not changed one bit since. Activities at the cattle post usually include hunting, cattle branding and vaccinating and while there are cattle herders always on site, owners need to go regularly to check on their livestock and tend to their needs as only owners can.
Here in Botswana, when festive season hits and places of business are closed for the holidays, the Batswana head home for the holidays to the villages in which they grew up and where mostly likely their parents and relatives still live. Tabuche headed home to his village, where he has also built a small house with his own hands in which he plans to retire. He was accompanied by his daughter, who he claims is not nearly as good company in the car as I am 🙂 A friend of Tabuche also drove with them so at least he had some company.
His plans were not to rest but to help out his father and brothers as much as he could. In fact, the other day he told me that he and his four brothers dug an entire pond by hand at the cattle post for the goat-herd. Yes, so while I was having fun, he was working hard from dawn to dusk. Telling me that the only time that he spent in the house that he built was to return at night to sleep. I know that he loves this house as he often talks about it.
However, what is more important to Tabuche is ensuring that he helps his parents when he can and planning for the future for he and his wife and children. In fact on Tuesday he proudly showed me something that I am sure that he had never shared with any of his other clients, but we are now friends. He is now the proud owner of four cattle of his own and he has his very own brand to signify ownership. I got to see the brand registry documents and it was so wonderful to see the happiness on his face when he showed them to me.
You see, cattle are not only a symbol of wealth for Batswana, but they provide an excellent livelihood. This is because cattle are not only a symbol of wealth , but also a source of livelihood for Batswana. They are the main source of meat during celebrations as well as funerals and are usually sold to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in order to secure much-needed funds to support a family. I asked how much a cow costs here in Botswana and it is a huge amount, 4,500 pula which is about $569.00 Canadian dollars. He would have had to save for years to afford one, let alone four. But this is the man who when he first came to Gaborone lived in Old Niledim which considered to be the slum of Gaborone. It is located not far from where I live and he has taken me in there to show me around. The people who live there live in poverty, yet he worked hard and was able to build a house in a better part of town and owns his own taxi company with four drivers. Can you see why I admire and adore him?
In total, I actually saw him four times this week as he picked up parcels from home at the WUSC office and delivered them to me and took me out for social engagement. However, I am so happy to be going back to work tomorrow morning so he and I can resume our daily rituals as there is always something to discuss and learn about!