PRESIDENT FESTUS MOGAE, UNIVERSITY OF BOTSWANA ACADEMICS AND PUBLIC DISCOURSE IN BOTSWANA, 1998-2008

Christian John Makgala, Bongani Glorious Gumbo

Abstract


This piece fills an important gap in the literature of Botswana by providing a survey of issues which were highly topical in the public domain in Botswana at the turn of the twenty first century and the contribution by historians therein through activism, academic work and (un)popular public discourse. University of Botswana (UB) scholars (historians and others) were scathingly criticised by President Festus Mogae (1998-2008), the private media and members of the general public for being noticeably "quiet‟ in public debates on issues of serious national concern. They were accused of being preoccupied with "narrow issues‟ of staff and personal welfare despite the huge amounts of money the nation had spent on their education and training. This piece gauges the extent to which UB lecturers contributed to key though controversial national issues in Botswana from a historical perspective. The discussion also examines how this contribution enhanced the historiography of Botswana. Issues raised here are "politics of recognition", north-south regionalism, perceived erosion of the culture of consultation by government, xenophobia, significance of the country's Pula currency, and the national brand debate.

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