BUM-DEAL: One man’s waste can be prized by others

You may have picked up from recent columns that my daughters and I will be basing ourselves in England for the next few years.

The decision to move so the girls would be able to take advantage of the educational opportunities in my late wife’s native land and so they would also experience the pros and cons of ‘first world’ life was made long before we knew Lesley had cancer, and now that she’s moved on it feels very right to carry through that plan.

We are not, however, burning any bridges – well, not intentionally, anyway – or cutting our ties with Botswana.  I’ll be back and forth and I plan to put a British slant on this weekly blurb and carry on with it for as long as The Voice are willing to fork out the dough. I’m also holding onto the house in Francistown that we bought seven years ago when Lesley’s government school teaching job got localised.
That last fact means we have to clear all the crap out of the house so it can be rented while we are gone… and that process has not been a load of laughs.  One of the problems is that the ordeal has forced me to contemplate why we ever bought and kept so much stuff that we obviously didn’t need as most of it has never been used.  There are lots of memories; some good and some not so good, and since the vast majority of the things that are now being cast out were bought by my wife I have to wonder if she needed to buy and hoard to make up for something else that was missing in her life.
Not necessarily true, but depressing all the same and for a while there I found it difficult not to feel sorry for myself.

Then I pulled my head out of my butt and took a long hard look at what was happening every time I placed an unwanted item on the manhole outside our front gate.  What I saw didn’t exactly cheer me up but it certainly made me appreciate how lucky I have been to always have my basic needs satisfied and I took on a much more realistic and healthy attitude towards the clearing out operation.

At first all the items I put up for grabs were scooped up by passers-by, then people began hanging out within sight of our gate so they would have first crack at the booty…and then people began ringing the door buzzer to ask if they could come in to look through the rubbish bin to see if I might have thrown away something I didn’t realize they would want.

Now I do not think I have a luxurious lifestyle, especially if you compare it to Botswana’s so-called upper class.  I don’t need a fancy car or fancy clothes and I like to fix things myself instead of buying as new one or paying someone else to do the job for me, but this recent experience has really highlighted how much more I have than many in our society.

And that, I’m afraid, sums up the biggest problem facing Botswana in the coming years.  The division between the haves and the have-nots is far too great and it seems to be widening every day.
I wish I could offer a plan to sort this thing out but I can’t.  It might be a good start, however, if a few more people who have more than they need pulled their heads out of their bums, stopped trying to keep up with their neighbours and started instead to appreciate just how lucky they are.

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