A year ago when Thabo Kealeboga spelled out his vision about a double-storey kiosk it all sounded like a laughable Utopian dream. However, many people are beginning to stop and marvel at an amazing work-in-progress on the corner of a block of flats in Block 5, Gaborone, that he is the sole architect of. Indications are that this could be the kiosk of the future because already similar structures are taking shape in Block 9 and Gabane.
“I know from a good source that they copied the idea from me,” he says.
Presently, ‘kiosk supermall’ does not feature in the dictionary but if Kealeboga’s business plan is 100 percent successful, he might just manage to expand the English vocabulary with that term.
What is most impressive about Kealeboga’s double-storey kiosk is creative use of space. When complete, the kiosk will effectively be a department store with a three-compartment ground floor comprising of a grocery store that is already operational, a small kitchen for preparing snack meals as well as a multi-media service delivery point.
Among others, the latter will have a photo studio and also provide secretarial services. At the beginning of the school year, Form One students from a nearby junior secondary school had their photographs taken at this studio for their school identity cards.
On the upper floor, which one accesses via an eight-rung steel ladder welded to the facade of the lower structure, would be a pool table and a barbershop in an enclosure big enough to accommodate both barber and customer. Kealeboga says that the plan is to have a crane drop the table onto the upper floor. He will cover the table with a tarpaulin to protect it against the elements.
Work has started on the construction of a shelter that will be used for a valeting service in the open space that is in front of the kiosk. A basketball hoop is also supposed to go up pretty soon. So, on a Sunday morning, customers will be shooting hoops downstairs, shooting pool upstairs or having the barber make them look 15 years younger while their cars are being cleaned.
Getting exhibition space at an art gallery can be difficult and what Kealeboga, who has 15 years of experience as a photographer, plans to do is host open-air exhibition around the kiosk.
“The idea is to cater for everyone,” says Kealeboga, adding that the blocks of wood riveted to the ground outside the kiosk will shortly become “kissing benches” when the seats and table tops are screwed on. He explains that the facing seats would be close enough to allow couples to practice such kind of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Women, he adds, would not feel intimidated in such an environment.
The kiosk’s most notable co-friendliness is the use of recycled Kgalagadi Breweries Limited boxes which Kealeboga uses as receptacles for sweets.
Kealeboga’s creativity goes back to his junior secondary school days when, as a Form One design and technology student, he won the National Design and Technology of Botswana (NDETEBO) contest. In senior secondary school he took geometrical design which he passed with flying colours. This learning proved useful when he started work on his kiosk in December 2006. Doing work that took quite a while to finish, he started by cutting out doors and windows. The main window is hexagonally shaped to symbolise Botswana’s main export commodity ÔÇô diamond and opens to reveal a counter lined with ceramic tiles.
When he enrolled at the University of Botswana, Kealeboga would have preferred to study something different but was left with no choice but humanities.
Lately, he says, there has been a disagreement between himself and his sponsors. The result has been that he has been forced to suspend his studies.
Although he cannot be certain about what is going to happen with his studies, there is no such uncertainty about what will become of his kiosk.
“I’ll still be doing this in 15 years. This is where money for my pension fund will come from,” he says.