Monday, April 22, 2024

I think it’s time Botswana had its mid-life crisis

Let’s be honest. Botswana’s life’s been pretty boring since she hit puberty in the seventies. She’s been living more or less the same sort of life for the past thirty something years. She’s been married to the same person (the lovely, sometimes stubborn BDP) for what feels like her entire life. She’s managed to raise two generations of some of the most educated Africans in the world.

Add to that her steady income from her part-time job as a diamond-hawker and you’ve got a pretty comfortable life.

But Botswana’s getting to the age where she just might start to wonder what the meaning of all this is. That’s why I suspect that she’s a few years away from going through a mid-life crisis. I mean, she’s got all the ingredients for it: a forty-year marriage to the same man, a bunch of well-adjusted and somewhat boring kids, the same job. She’s got the same sort of mundane life that could drive any sane man to tears.

It’s only a matter of time before she finally accepts that things might not have turned out quite as exciting for her as they did for her sisters around the continent.

I mean, for all the peace and middle-class living she’s had for the past few decades she must be itching to try something different. I can imagine her sitting with her friends from all over the African continent listening to their stories of war-time romance and brief flings with younger men, secretly wondering why her life isn’t quite as exciting as theirs seems to be.

Yes, Botswana’s stable marriage with BDP has been the envy of many of her African and non-African sisters alike. Yes, Botswana’s comfortable financial situation has made it possible for her to give some assistance to her African sisters. In fact, just last week she was able to give a scholarship to her sister’s Liberian children.

And I’m sure over the years many international acquaintances haven’t been shy about bringing up how lucky she is to have been able to afford her children education at international institutions all over the world during a time when her African counterparts were still suffering through the remnants of their abusive relationships with those European fellows.

But there must be a part of her that wonders what it would be like to experiment with different things. I can imagine Botswana staring at Liberia across the table during last month’s meeting and maybe feeling a bit too shy to ask her what it’s like to experiment with a woman. I can imagine many more instances like that happening over the next few years, actually. (But then I’ve got quite the imagination on me).

But, seriously, the woman’s nearly fifty! It would be ridiculous for us not wonder whether she doesn’t read South African newspapers and sigh enviously as she pores over the stories of lust and excitement that have riddled South Africa’s eighteen year old marriage to the charming and unpredictable ANC.

I also wonder if she ever toys with the idea of being whisked away by an extravagant, often scantily-clad king like her Swazi sister to the south. Doesn’t she look at Egypt and wonder what it’s like to first divorce a slightly controlling man that’s been her husband since anyone can remember then almost immediately upon entering the single life have men fight so furiously over her?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m certain Botswana’s quite pleased by how well ÔÇôrelativelyÔÇöher husband’s been treating her all these years. She knows all the horror stories that many of her sisters on the continent have suffered through and are still suffering through. But I imagine it’s not easy for a woman like her to brush off the thought of experiencing the excitement of drama.

Ok, ok. I’m not going to pretend Botswana hasn’t had her share of drama. She’s definitely had her fair share of suitors vying for her attention. There’s been BNF, BCP, BPP just to mention a few. Just one or two years ago, in fact, she even found herself in the middle of a furious battle between her husband and his estranged brother, BMD. In fact, I think that feud is on-going. But…it’s just not the same. You know? It just isn’t.

So before Botswana goes through a nervous breakdown, I want her to know that I support her growing desire to discover herself. There’s nothing wrong, Botswana, with wanting to experience a little taste of the excitement everyone else seems to always be having.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to maybe aim for a higher standard of living, for example. Yes, for an African woman you’re doing alright. But let’s face it; you might have to accept that you’ve outgrown that cozy little partnership you had with that Dutch fellow, De Beers. In fact, why not allow yourself to explore other avenues of commerce? The diamond game is great and all, but you can’t do that forever! There’s other fish in the sea. (In your case, other minerals in the soil)
Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too old to learn a new trade. You could try manufacturing like your Chinese sister. You could be the next Dubai! The sky’s the limit for you, Botswana.

In fact, while we’re at it, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re too old to try out a younger man. Or even a woman. Live a little!

I think if you think hard enough about it, you just might realise that this mid-life crisis might turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you.
So, “cheers!” to Botswana’s mid-life crisis.

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