We have found that nothing quite inspires like a good book. Here is a selection of books that will give you a taste of Botswana in various forms; personal experiences from residents, researchers and guides who have all spent time in this semi-desert country.
A Marriage of inconvenience
by Michael Dutfield
Ruth Williams, a young white English woman, made headline news worldwide in 1948 when she met an African prince and fell in love. Seretse Khama was heir to be chief of the people of Bamangwato, Bechuanaland, now known as Botswana. During their first year of marriage, an extraordinary series of events took place. The people of Bamangwato accepted the marriage and welcomed Ruth into their tribe as their queen. However, the governments of South Africa, Zimbabwe, and the British government were determined to stop Seretse from becoming the chief of their tribe.
A Question of Power
by Bessie Head
Elizabeth is a white woman who has left South Africa and is living with her son in Botswana, in Motabeng village, otherwise known as ‘the place of sand’. Viewed as an outsider by those around her, she begins an abnormal relationship with two men who represent a private vision of hell of which she sinks deeper and deeper. This novel delves into the cruelty and madness of living in a divided society while interweaving the terrifying experiences of insanity.
Botswana From The Outside In
by Robert Flanagan
From the Outside in follows a young family as they make the transition from life in Ireland close to 9,000 kilometres away to Botswana in Africa. They work through challenges as they come, heading into unexperienced temperatures and unknown territory, it’s administration system and a bothersome baboon for a neighbour.
by Will Randall
Part engaging personal story and part travel book, Botswana Time shows an insight of just how extraordinary the country of Botswana is. After helping some children put on a play to save their school, Will Randall was asked by the headmaster at The River Life school to teach a class of six-year-olds. One of his jobs is to take the football crazy children to play neighbouring schools, which are sometimes over 160km away. Often travelling by foot, en-route they camp or stay in rural villages and farms, followed by zebra, buffalo, antelopes and elephants.
Cry of the Kalahari
by Mark and Delia Owens
Cry of the Kalahari is a story of Mark and Delia Owens who arrived in Africa by plane with not much more than some clothes and a pair of binoculars. This book follows their adventures; buying a third hand Land Rover and driving in the Kalahari Desert where they lived for seven years. The area they lived was unexplored with no people and no roads; they began their zoology research surrounded by jackals, giraffes, brown hyenas and lions—an International Best Seller.
by Bessie Head
Maru, offers a magical and moving tale of Margaret Cadmore, an orphaned Masarwa girl who goes to a remote village in Botswana to teach, a place where her people are kept as slaves. The community is polarised and condemns her as an outcast. A story of intrigue and love follows.
Place of Reeds
by Caitlin Davies
Caitlin Davies met and fell in love with Ron while studying in America. Caitlin joined Ron in Maun (Place of Reeds) when he returned to his home in Botswana. Caitlin became a part of Ron’s extended family, absorbing the Setswana culture and falling in love with both the people and their country. Caitlin’s happiness seems complete when she gives birth to her daughter, but after being savagely attacked, she finds herself ostracised by Ron’s Family.
Saturday Is for Funerals
by Unity Dow and Max Essex
The World Health Organisation estimated in the year 2000 that 85% of 15-year-olds in Botswana would die of AIDS. This book tells the true stories of lives affected by AIDS, the widows, parents who have lost children and orphans who spend most of their Saturdays devoted to the burial of their friends and relatives. It tells of the scientific initiatives and new techniques implemented to reduce rates of transmission from mothers to children and new therapies that can save the lives of many people infected with AIDS.
Seretse & Ruth
by Wilf Mbanga
The heir to the kingdom of Bamangwato and first democratic president of Botswana, Seretse Khama was sent to the United Kingdom to study law by his uncles. They never expected him to meet an English girl and fall in love, in turn causing a political crisis. Following Seretse and Ruth’s story, the couple fought to get permission to marry and for Seretse to take the throne.
Based on documentation newly released, archived material and interviews, this novel offers a compelling account of one of the most dramatic and moving love stories of our time.
The Colour Bar
by Susan Williams
The heir to the chief of the Bangwato people and the first President of Botswana, Sir Seretse Khama, brought great prosperity and independence to his nation after colonial rule. But from 1950 for six years, he was banned from his own country and forced into exile in England. Why? He fell in love with a white English girl, Ruth Williams, and married her. This novel delves into the story of Ruth and Seretse and how apartheid South Africa and the British Government conspired to stop the mixed-race royal couple returning home.
The Lost World of the Kalahari
by Laurens van der Post
Laurens van der Post, a noted explorer and writer, recounts his rediscovery of the Bushmen, survivor outcasts from Stone Age Africa. The last Bushmen retreated to the depths of the Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa, facing continuous attack from the people who followed them. He finds the Bushmen thriving, with their traditions and way of life in-tact in one of the world’s most desolate landscapes.
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
by Alexander McCall Smith
This is the first book in The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series.
If you have a problem with missing spouses, philandering partners and delinquent daughters that no one else can help you with then Botswana’s only female private detective, Precious Ramotswe, is the person to see. Precious may not use the most conventional of methods, but she is witty, warm and has canny intuition on her side. This novel follows Precious as she is on the trail of a missing child, where she finds herself in danger and strange situations.
Tears of the Giraffe
by Alexander Mcall Smith
Tears of the Giraffe, part of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, further follows, a detective and owner, Precious Ramotswe, detective and owner of Botswana’s only Ladies’ detective agency. Precious covers cases, of dishonest maids and unruly wives. There is excitement in the air with her secretary being promoted to Assistant Detective and Mma Ramotswe’s upcoming wedding.
The Screaming of the Innocent
by Unity Dow
A 12-year-old girl, Neo Kakang, goes missing one afternoon near her village in Botswana. The police tell her mother and the local villagers wild animals have taken her. An intern government employee clearing out an old storeroom, five years later, finds a box, with evidence of human involvement in her disappearance.
Twenty Chickens for a Saddle
by Robyn Scott
An amusing memoir, recounting the years Robyn Scott lived in Botswana where her dad was working as a flying doctor. In the beginning, she questions her parent’s ideas but over time, realises how important her father’s work is. The rate of HIV in Botswana is the highest in the world, but no one talks about it, Robyn Scott becomes proud of her parents and how they are willing to be unconventional to those around them.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide
by Peter Allison
A collection of essays based on a Botswana truism, “Only food runs!” Peter Allison, who was born and grew up in Australia is now considered one of Africa’s top safari guides. He gives us his view of facing the world’s toughest terrain of wild animals, living in the bush and managing tourists. Working in Okavango Delta and passionate for the animals of the Kalahari, he sometimes sees the tourists as more dangerous than a pride of lions and has to resist the urge to run away from them.
When Rain Clouds Gather
by Bessie Head
Set in Golema Mmidi a poverty-stricken village in Botswana, a refuge to exiles, this novel is inspired by the authors own life experiences in Apartheid South Africa as an outcast and a refugee. An Englishman and a South African political refugee come together to transform the traditional farming methods used by the villagers. The transformation threatens to destroy and divide the fragile community as they face resistance from the local chief, pressures of tradition and the unrelenting climate.
White Dog Fell From the Sky
by Eleanor Morse
In 1976 in apartheid, South Africa, Isaac Muthethe, a medical student, is forced to flee his country after he witnesses a friend murdered by white members of the South African Defence Force. After being smuggled into Botswana, a young American woman, Alice Mendelssohn, hires Isaac as a gardener. Alice has followed her husband to Africa and abandoned her PhD studies. Isaac goes missing, and Alice’s life is changed, and she is bound to the beautiful sunburned land as she searches for him.
Wild Life: Dispatches from a Childhood of Baboons and Button Downs
by Keena Roberts
Keena Roberts shows the differences between two worlds in this humorous memoir. Keena spent adolescence split between a Botswana island bush camp and an elite private school in Philadelphia. She lived alongside a baboon colony her parents were studying, cooked over a campfire and slept in a tent in Africa. It wasn’t unusual to be chased by elephants or lions, and she could hold a spear as easily as a pencil. But for a few months of the year, the family lived in the United States, where she no longer felt brave and as she navigated the landscape of the social hierarchy of a preppy private school.