Tag Archives: History

Blacks, do Read

25 Aug

There used to be a radio show segment hosted by Glen Lewis on South Africa’s MetroFM called ‘Blacks do Read’. I would like to think the show was about books but I can’t recall a single memorable conversation about books during the show. However, the point the DJ was trying to make was to dispel the idea that Blacks don’t actually read. Obviously the sentiment is very broad so if you are reading this it might not refer to you…

Arriving fashionably late, on African time, for the press launch of the Moabi Mogorosi directed documentary about David Magang, I discovered what looked like a corporate video in full flow. It was in actual fact the story of Phakalane Estates as told by the Magang family and a veritable who’s who of gentlemen from Botswana’s corridors of power. The production will answer many an imponderable for those that had acquired the book, ‘The Magic of Perseverance’ written by David Magang… and hadn’t actually read it. Film director, Moabi Mogorosi, spent over a year turning David Magang’s 600 plus page book into a four part series of documentaries. By his own reckoning Mogorosi read the book at least three times (yes Blacks, three times!) in order to complete this production. The press was treated to the episode dealing with the prime estate’s action packed background.

The film production had the distinct pragmatic feel of a conservative corporate video so there was no flashy camera work; something so necessary for today’s audiences who have their attention span split between Facebook, Twitter, BBM, dikoloto and breathing. The gentle narration by Mr David Magang of Phakalane Estate’s tale along with his whole family completing the vision with their insights and annecdotes was a slice of film manna. To have a family so cohesively relate the story of a shared vision from their own interpretations and experiences was a glimpse into what should be the best thing about Botswana today; unity of purpose and what it can achieve. The message in the documentary besides the obvious success of Phakalane as a concept, a family business, and an investment; is in the book’s title ‘The Magic of Perseverance’; or as Aaliyah (RIP) would put it, “…if at first you don’t succeed,dust yourself off and try again.

Now, Blacks, let me tell you what Mr David Magang told me about the positives behind reading. He says back when he was working at the Attorney General’s chambers he read the regulations governing land matters in Botswana and discovered that legally speaking a Phakalane was possible. Obviously not the present estate as it stands, but basically the fact that any Motswana could buy and develop land into a ‘township’. This was a written statute that many a government official, bank manger, man in the street and indeed journalist missed for the decades that it took for the privately bought farm to be recognised as a township, developed, and turned into a regional and global leading brand that it has become today. The Magangs in general take distinct pleasure in pointing out that so many challenges could have been avoided had the relevant people just read something printed somewhere.

Now all those Blacks that avoided the book, probably joking that they will just wait for the DVD, have no more excuses. Maybe the national broadcaster should buy the rights to air the entire series of ‘The Magic of Perseverance’ right away… even if the broadcasts run the risk of upsetting many, many people who had an opportunity to help bring Phakalane Estates to life in some way and failed. Of course you will have to wait for the director, Mogorosi, to take the documentaries through the film festival circuit first before the DVD becomes available. In the interim you may go ahead and buy yourself a slice of Phakalane’s success at Thobo Hamlet before someone else does and sells it back to you, more expensively… and… Blacks, do read.