Botswana Television weatherman, Radithupa Mesho Radithupa is one hell of a nice guy!
Following the torrential downpours that came with Cyclone Dineo last week, Radithupa humoured us by accepting to be used as a subject during a lecture to Voice journalists on interviewing skills on Friday.
Quick witted, charming and eloquent, the 50- year- old Head of Climatology Division tantalized the journalists with his strong subject acumen and story telling skills.
Below are some of the questions he fielded like a pro as captured by Portia Ngwako-Mlilo
Q. We have seen a lot of rain the whole of week. When is it going to stop?
I do not know if you are asking because you want it to stop or you want it to continue. (Laughs).
We have had a lot of rain accumulated in excess of about 300mm in most areas in a short period of time.
This is rain we normally get in three months or so. We expect it to decrease in intensity but we will be getting some isolated thunderstorms this week.
The north and Gantsi are expected to remain wet. Pity those who were geared for son of the soil this weekend. (bursts into laughter)
Q. Tell us about the naming of a Cyclone.
Certain criteria need to be followed for a tropical cyclone to be assigned a category.
The naming starts with the strength of the tropical cyclone itself, strength of the wind and the shape.
It has to develop an eye to show that it is a matured cyclone.We have regional centres under world meteorological organization that have cyclone monitoring system.
In our region that is the south -western part of the Indian Ocean there is a specialized committee for cyclone naming committee and Botswana is part of it.
Every two to three years we meet and as a country and come up with two names which we submit to the regional centre. This one was aptly named Dineo.
Q. Why Dineo?
Won’t you agree with me that we chose a good name for it? Dineo means (gifts) and indeed this cyclone came bearing gifts in the sense that the Gaborone Dam filled up after 16 years.
We choose names looking at how short and easy they are to pronounce and to be identified with the country.
Imagine how difficult it would have been for international media to pronounce it had we named it “Rramorogwana.”
For the next cyclone we have submitted the names Habana and Uyapo.
Q. Oh no, when do we expect Habana then?
I don’t see a chance of Habana or Uyapo reaching our shores so no need to worry.
Q. Clearly climate patterns seasons have changed, what sort of winter should we expect?
There is perception that heavy rainfalls precede extremely cold winters but that is not necessarily true.
Of course when you stay near a dam or stream it is likely to be colder.
Q. About 1500 homes were adversely affected by the storm, would you say we were ready for cyclone Dineo?
Our department issued early warning of heavy rains in September during their seasonal forecast through the media.
This year we did the Setswana version to try and reach out to everybody.
But I suspect people started to doubt when November turned out to be hot and dry even though we kept on announcing extremely wet season ahead tipped for January to March.
National Disaster Management is our client and they were warned.
They are the ones who can answer that question of whether we were ready as a nation or not?
Q. What have we learnt from this?
This is a repeat of what happened in 1976, which was characterized by the anecdote about a radio that was seen floating around but still playing a popular song.
We have a climate change policy that is coming out; we are hoping for a national adaptation plan to try and cope with these changes. Climate change cuts across sectors.
The energy sector would come in to talk about renewable energy and there is agriculture water management, conservation and others.
All these sectors will be looking at climate change at different levels to try to address extreme whether patterns of droughts and floods.
Q. Any myths that you would want to dispel about Dineo? is she a Kgwanyape/(rain snake) as some purport?
Kgwanyape refers to tornado probably because of its snake like shape.
No, this is not a Kgwanyape, which would have been a lot more destructive.There was one that happened in South Africa and destroyed a lot of properties.
This one is what is called “setsuatsue” in Setswana. What people should know is that I have no relationship with Dineo. (Laughs).
Some call me Rra Dineo(father of Dineo) in town these days but she is not my daughter.
Q. How did you end up as a celebrity weatherman?
(Chuckles) I am not a celebrity weatherman but a public officer.
Immediately when I finished my form 5 at McConnel College I went to do my Diploma in meteorology in Nairobi Kenya.
I came back and worked at the airport until I eventually went to the UK for my degree.
Q. Take us through your day. What exactly do you do?
We do a lot of research, analysis and archiving to help different institutions.
We do provide information for academics and this past year we gave out a projection of rainfall for the next coming 50 years.
Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency wanted to know what they should expect as they invest in agricultural projects.
These are kind of advisory services we offer. When there is no such event we respond to research institutions request for data, WUC and construction companies when they have projects, they consult us for weather forecast.
We also provide reports to insurance companies assessing damages to property that have anything to do with weather conditions.
We even go to court to give evidence in situations whereby someone claims an accident occurred because of weather conditions.
Q. What do you find most interesting about your job?
The weather is always interesting. No two days are exactly the same.
This year there was a lot of international media interest because of Dineo and I had to deal with individuals too such as investors seeking advice.
There are also worried farmers that yell at you at traffic lights genuinely wanting to know the forecast.
Q. Thank God is Friday. What are your plans for the weekend?
I’m a family man and therefore spend a lot of time at home but once in a while I hang out with a mature crowd some place I won’t mention where there are no young people to step on my toes.