Turning 21 for most people is a night filled with many bar stops and many gifts and most importantly, being handed the ‘key to life’. For me, it meant preparing for my mid-semester tests at the University of Botswana. Odd to some but a tradition for me to let a special day pass by ‘just like that’. But this tradition of limiting my birthday celebrations to camping and hill hiking is about to change, at least just this year.
I am about to celebrate my 35th birthday. Wow! I cannot believe I am five years shy from the age which we have been told life begin at – 40. Anyway, I am not 40 yet, so let’s focus on the now, the big three-five. As part of my 35th birthday celebration, I have made a last minute decision to participate at the inaugural FNB Kazungula Marathon billed for February 26, which also happens to be my birthday.
I am not taking part at this marathon because my belly is lately getting a little more jiggly, or because of the grey hair sprouting, nor because of the wrinkles that are beginning to show themselves. I have learnt from one, Carol Kgafela that completing a race for one’s birthday is so fulfilling. I look forward to that fulfillment. Most importantly I have been inspired to go run at the FNB Kazungula Marathon because for the longest time I have had this idea in my head whose tone dictate that I raise awareness on decent housing or what others elsewhere call affordable housing.
The Kazungula Marathon therefore marks a foundation of a project that would give us an opportunity to join hands together and put up a template of a decent house for the less privileged amongst us. Yes, you heard it right, the next big step after Kazungula marathon would be to build a modern day house for a less privileged family in Boteti District as part of my #affordablehousingmatters awareness campaign. I have run this campaign on the socials for the past five months and the tone I have set dictate that the end of it should be a template house for a needy family. The idea is to inspire and remind the government, private individuals/citizens, charitable organisations, Botswana’s development partners and fellow human beings that waking up in a decent house has many benefits. Living in a decent affordable house means one does not have to worry about bad weather days or in the case of school going children not having a decent place to study after school.
This project has been motivated by what I have seen around our country in my 10+ years of journalism. Thousands Batswana live in life- or health threatening conditions, some even in overcrowded slums and informal settlements, or in other conditions which do not uphold their human rights and their dignity. We need to have a deliberate efforts in place to change that and as such building that house would be a perfect gift if it can inspire many of such projects to be jointly done by the citizens of this country. We need the same spirit and energy that we used to build our national University of Botswana.
As I look forward to my 35th birthday and the Kazungula Marathon, there are two things I have to disclose: I am a not huge fan of Marathons, having run only once in my adult life. Secondly, until recently, I was decidedly not a fan of big birthday celebrations. So 26 February 2022 is likely to be a perfect union of these two milestones that one can combine into a perfect gift to my country of birth and the less privileged members of our society.