Published: June 5th 2012June 5th 2012
First, let's get the bird update out of the way. We got some good views of birds we had already seen, such as a crested barbet up close and two African holy ibises in flight. I added four new birds today, two at the hotel before 7:30 AM, two at an outdoor mall/market after the seminar in late afternoon:
51. Common swift
52. Pied crow
53. Speckled pigeon (a malevolent-looking creature with big red eye orbits)
54. Red-winged starling.
Our seminar today began with a visit to Chief Charles Koitsiwe of Old Naledi village in Gabarone. In the past, the chief (kgosi) would have been the one to store the harvest for community use, preside over initiation ceremonies, and resolve disputes or try cases in the village court, or kgotla). These days, an urban chief oversees the judiciary at the level of the "customary courts" (we might call them "traditional courts"), which still includes resolving conflicts and, if necessary, trying a subset of legal cases. It was interesting to learn that the chief can impose corporal punishment on males under 40. We were able to review some parts of the legal code and ask questions. The
chief had a very calm demeanor that was much in evidence when a woman who clearly has a mental illness burst into the office, told us she was the chief, lectured us briefly about ARVs (anti-retroviral medication) and then asked us for money. He just smiled and firmly told her that someone would talk with her later, and she left the office. There was no tension in any of this. It was my favorite part of the day. In case you're wondering, yes, we all dressed up, and the chief wore slacks, a button-down shirt and tie, and a black leather jacket.
We had a little free time at a mall, where I ws able to pick up an easy Setswana language guide, two wildlife books, and a poster of the garden birds of Southern Africa. We had lunch at a Brazilian restaurant where a colleague from Iowa and I had an interesting conversation with our University of Botswana coordinator about lesbian/gay legal issues in Botswana (short version: It's illegal) and the dilemmas this can pose for government prevention programs since, if they acknowledge MSM and provide services, they might be seen as supporting homosexuality. This is, of course,
the dilemma faced by any authority wanting to engage in harm reduction, including your mother who wants you not to go to parties where people are drinking, but if you're at one, wants you to call her for a ride home.
After lunch we returned to the university for a very interesting talk from the Director of the Ministry of Public Health, who also addressed us yesterday. He and a colleague spoke on building a relationship between traditional and modern healers.
We then visited a mall/market so people could look at crafts (we met a Batswana merchant who grew up in Oregon, and his brother who was visiting from Oregon) and buy Botswana Zebras jerseys for the upcoming World Cup qualifier. Go Zeebs!
Several of us gathered outside for drinks, crackers, and discussion. It grew dark and I realized that I didn't recognize any of the constellations. Oh, yeah, I'm in the southern hemisphere!
Tomorrow we have a talk on sociocultural factors leading to the spread of HIV, then visit a hospital in the afternoon. I asked to visit a psychiatric hospital, but the closest one is 75 kilometers away, so I asked instead to meet
with undergraduate psychology students. I leave it to you to decide how comparable those activities may be.