Francistown has over the years depreciated from a city that once oozed vibrancy, glitz and glamour to a ghost town.
Popularly known as the “Ghetto”, the second city has been cut into a sorry shadow of its former self. Despite a number of contemporary infrastructures in the city such as the famous Interchange junction “Spaghetti”, it is very clear that there is deprivation of developments in the city. This is rubber stamped by among others; poor internal roads rutted with pot holes and old decaying colonial buildings.
Although it is one of the first towns in the country, Francistown seems to have been thrown into the gutter. The second city has a rich history especially that the first gold discovery in Southern Africa was from this very city. It is also common knowledge that the first airport in the country was Francistown airport which was built by WENELA (Witwatersrand Native Labour Association) Air Services. Sadly, Francistown has over the years regressed and has failed to reap fruits from its rich past.
The last nail on the coffin was the closure of mines in its vicinity which paralyzed its economy. However, despite this adversity, Francistown has potential to become an economic hub and re-claim its past glory. This is what one of the local authors, Zwelithini Goodwill Molapisi believes firmly believes in. Molapisi who was born and bred in this very city has penned down a book titled Francistown Botswana; bemoaning the demise of this once great African city. Is there hope?
The book which is already in several bookshops was published last year. It is in two folds. The first part is an observation by the author of how Francistown has regressed in terms of development. The author also takes the reader through Francistown’s famous locations such as Monarch, Bluetown and Somerset and the kind of services that one can access in the second city. The second part of the book zooms into opportunities and challenges that exist in the city which can be exploited to transform Francistown into a world class African city. The writer also uses a lot of satire and humor to pass his message across.
On what inspired him to write this book, Molapisi who does not regard himself as a professional writer told The Telegraph in an interview last week that it all began when he initially wrote a couple of essays where he was making a humorous observation of issues related to development or lack of developments in the second city.
“I got a few people to read some of my essays and they were quite impressed. One of the local veteran writers Sonny Serite actually encouraged me to compile these into a book. I am not sure if he remembers this. I was hoping to start a conversation amongst Francistowners for them to make a hard look at the city and hopefully come up with ways for its revival,” he said.
Asked on why he particularly chose to write about Francistown, Molapisi said he is passionate about issues related to the city as it is his birth place. He currently lives in Gaborone and Mapoka is his home village. He took issue with the fact that while Francistown is one of the first towns in the country, developments seem to be centred in the South part of the country.
“It saddens me that Francistown has so much potential and yet everything seems to be going to the south,” he said.
On challenges faced by writers in the country, he laughed and declined to comment as he said that he does not consider himself a writer just yet. He however said that what he has realized is that it is very difficult for one to get his work published locally. He said what is heart-breaking is that sometimes one’s work can be rejected even before the publishers read it.
“One of the challenges that we face in our country is that we live in a very conservative society. In fact in some instances I was struggling to put my thoughts across because I thought that would be viewed as extreme,” he added.
His writing is inspired by writers such as Bill Bryson including local writers Botsalo Ntuane and Sonny Serite. Asked to comment about the reading culture in Botswana, he said people no longer read books as compared to the past. He explained that today there are a lot of things going on and people hardly have time to read. He however said local writers have a potential to grow and emphasized they should target a wider market beyond the country’s borders. He further said sales avenues such as Amazon could help in terms of marketing.