More and more I get a feeling for what that networking means. It’s just a little insight I have yet, but it is like I get more and more pieces of a puzzle together.
It crosses my mind when we were driving along the road. A bus was driving in front of us. All of a sudden he stopped to put a way pieces of an old tyre. The driver took a look back at us, node is head and waved with his arm. When we overtook him he hoot. A little while later it happens that he overtook us again and he hoot again, we too. And again, after a while we overtook the bus again, so we hoot and he was waving with his arm and hit the hooter again. I thought about if something like that would happen in Germany as well. I came to reason to say, no. I don’t think so.
But this is just one little example of how people interact here with each other. You can’t get out of your yard without getting in touch with the people. Maybe a little bit similar to rual life in Germany, but though a little bit more interaction. Because in Germany one would greet people he or she knows. Here, eveyone is greeted. When I sit on my veranda and strangers pass by they greet. They wave and will say:
“Dumela, Mma. O kae?” (Hello Miss, how are you?)
And I will be supposed to greet back, of course, saying:
“Ee…Rra. Keteng” (Yes, Mister. I am fine.)
This is the formal greeting phrase. If you are not greeting it will be seen as a sign of disrespect. And on the other hand. Behaving in a respectful way is very important. I think it creates ties.
What is also interesting is that “O kae?” litterlay means “where are you?” And the answer “Keteng” means “I am here”. Maybe this contributes to the fact that is very important to which family one belongs. I’ve been asked almost from everyone of my neighbours where I belong to. Then I say that I belong to Mma and Rra Shimashima and then they would node their head saying “I see”. And if somebody introduces me to somebody else he would also tell him that I belong to this specific family. I got the feeling it is just impossible not to belong to somebody. Even I would be asked by my Batswana family, “To whom is he or she belonging to!”, if a friend visits me.
This could be even stretched further as it also influences marriages. Though couples decide on their own who they want to marry it is still a matter of the families. So without knowing who one belongs to it gets difficult.
Sometimes I get the feeling everybody knows everybody. This is very helpful in everyday life. For example, recently our fridge broke. So we just could go to our neighbour asking for help and of course, he knows somebody could check our fridge. And if he wouldn’t know this person he would have known a person who knows someone. Of course, this may also be like life in rural german villages. But unless there, where I get the feeling it is a closed community, here, in Botswana everyone can be part of the community as long as one knows some few rules to behave respectful. From the very first moment, when I came to Botswana in 2009, my host family welcomed me as being like their own daugther. And this care continues through all the years until my return this year. I can go to my hostfather if there should be any problem and he will take care of it. Or sometimes it happens that he passes by our house just saying “Hi” and to let us know that he’s checking us to see if everything is allright.
Besides the practical side of always knowing someone who could help out with something it is a good feeling to know that others care.