On Tuesday during the Francistown Full Council (FCC) meeting, the Principal Record Archivist of Botswana, Linda Magula, probed the Francistown City Council members to make an effort in contributing to the historical information of the second city, which she described as insufficient and lacking.
She indicated that in other countries, such as the United States of America, the city councils play a leading role in making sure that the collection of information and records to their departments of Archives and Records is maintained. Magula implored the FCC to play a pivotal role in the collection of such historical information in relation to the Francistown City, as it would be vital for the future generations.
She said that the information they have at the Francistown Archives and Records centre is very shallow and insufficient and hitherto, the information they have was on the Haskins family history, the age of the city and that it was a mining town which she cited as very small.
However, Magula elaborated that, as Botswana National Archives and Records (BNARS), their main responsibility was to safeguard information that is of particular interest and importance to the nation therefore she found it crucial that the Francistown City Council try and contribute in the collection of such information.
“However BNARS was established in order to preserve and acquire information as a way of protecting our national heritage,” said Magula.
She told the full council that BNARS collects information and stores it in files, Audio Tapes, Microfilms, Diaries which are good modes of keeping the information with regard to durability and quality. Magula indicated that BNARS, which is under the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, decided to decentralize itself and launch a department in Francistown for easy coordination of records of the city.
She further informed the council that there are some government departments that have poor management of records and information and, therefore, as BNARS, they were prepared to advice such departments on how to handle their records. She revealed that they do not collect every type of information but they select the information on the basis of its sensitivity and quality.
“When there is information that has been collected by BNARS and has a five-year life span, it is transferred for easy accessibility by the public,” said Magula.
She mentioned that last year, when Minister Gladys Kokorwe was launching the Archives Record Centre in Francistown, she stated that the Francistown center would avail its records to the public in 2009. Magula further highlighted that the Francistown City Council should take pride in the history of the city, by so doing they would be nurturing the pride of the city and would be stimulating interest in tourists to visit the City, thus helping diversify the economy and propel the city development.
“The Council is a custodian of the culture and history of the City and it should be exemplary in helping the Archives and records center in acquiring and keeping the records,” lamented Magula.
Magula suggested that the Council plays a crucial role in this endeavor by depositing records and photos of former mayors of the city, their diaries and minutes.
One council member and former mayor of the city, Motlatsi Molapisi, suggested that the colonial names of streets be replaced with local historical icons such as Philip Matante. He further told the council members that this would enhance a sense of pride to the Francistown natives. Molapisi further took issue with the name “Francistown” which he perceived as a name from a gold prospector Daniel Francis who came to the then Bechuanaland for selfish reasons and acquired wealth. He suggested that the name be changed to Nyangabwe or any other important name as this would maintain self identity and pride among the Francistowners.