Living abroad, changing lives locally

Tshepo Maphanyane
THE FAMILIES HOSTED: Basupang, Ontumetse, Montshiwa, Hull, Ramahobo and Molele

For many people, festive is a time to enjoy with family and friends, however, when one is far from home, it can be a miserable time. Throw in assignments and the wet and freezing weather compounded by pictures of people enjoying the glorious sunny days in Botswana and you could be headed for depression.

Luckily, I can safely say, this does not quite describe how I wrapped up the year and ushered in a brand new one.

Credit goes to my hosts, Tebogo and Boston Basupang whom I first met in October at a Brand Botswana engagement in London.

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Their good friend, Evert Smith, an orthopedic surgeon I had just met introduced them to me.

We joked about how the introduction should have been the other way around and parted ways with the promise to keep in touch and indeed our newfound friendship flourished and the hospitable couple assured me that I had family while in the UK.

Their invitation to spend New Year’s Eve at their home in Swindon was perfectly timed. My birthday falls on New Year’s Day and what a ball we had with other Batswana families.

This year my hosts will celebrate their 10 – year wedding anniversary and mark 19 years of living in the UK.

Another milestone to be celebrated is of their son Poko – a Brighton Film School student who turns 21 this month.

A pharmacist by trade, Tebogo studied in the UK in 1993 and headed back to Botswana for a few years.

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“I worked in a private hospital and the pharmaceutical industry then decided to pursue work opportunities in the UK. I guess it was made easier by having studied here,” she explains.

Following the career that had her working in various places in England.

She went on to meet Boston through a mutual friend while they were both working in Bristol.

“We were friends for a long time before tying the knot in 2010,” Tebogo explains.

As a self- employed surgical nurse, Boston enjoys the flexibility of managing his own working hours.

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In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, he is an academic and has also had a stint as a lecturer at the University of West London.

The couple explains that Boston’s fluid schedule allows them to pursue their other interests including a tourism project in Botswana.

Their shared passion for travel has resulted in them travelling the world together.

“We have travelled extensively and enjoyed the most amazing experiences including visiting the Caribbean Islands, touring the pyramids of Giza in Egypt, which, as one of the seven wonders of the world, are a sight to behold. Our ultimate indulgence however is, following the Formula One circuit from Europe to as far afield as Montreal, Canada,“shares Tebogo.

The couple’s experiences in the UK compounded by extensive travel have cemented their plans to invest in the Botswana’ s tourism industry and have others enjoy the unique beauty and experiences that the offers.

“The process of setting up a business is extremely demanding but we are determined to see the plan to fruition. It really is our big plan for 2020. We are looking to provide a place in the Delta that will not only serve an international patronage but most importantly, be accessible to the ordinary Motswana,” reveals Boston.

Over the years, the couple has hosted some of their UK friends in Botswana and are delighted at the feedback.

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INTERNATIONAL: Tebogo and Boston Basupang

“Every one of them has been thrilled and enchanted by the experience. It has attracted the interest of many more and we look forward to more of these trips,” adds Tebogo.

Reminiscing on one of the trips, the couple shares memories of hosting a friend and her daughter to a wedding in Tonota.

“They were fascinated and fully participated in the ceremony from wearing mateise to helping serve the food, “Recalls Tebogo.

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A renowned author, Jane Shemilt who fell in love with Botswana has teamed up with the Basupang Batswana International Foundation – a foundation formed by the Basupangs with other families from Botswana living in the UK to give back to the marginalized communities in Botswana.

In addition, they participate in hosting an annual event in the UK to showcase Botswana cuisine, arts, crafts and music.

“We have so much to share of the Setswana culture and our way of life,” says Tebogo.

One of the projects particularly close to Boston’s heart is the adoption of Kubung Primary School in the Kweneng district.

The school has benefitted from their generosity and for three consecutive years wherein they managed to host prize giving ceremonies for pupils.

Their efforts were aided by numerous entities including. Schemilt who through her publisher donated books to the school and attended the event.

In 2014, the community was grateful for the rare opportunity to engage with the Bristol City Football Club.

Donations of soccer kits and a chance to play with members of the Bristol City Community Trust during the soccer clinics is still remarked on by the residents of Kubung and their guests.

Their visit culminated with friendly games with the national team Zebras and Rollers in the following year.

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Despite the enormous logistical challenges, the Basupangs are committed to revitalizing their community drive project.

“Our roots are deeply set in Botswana, and we strive to merge our two worlds,after all, 19 years is a long time, we have started developing some small roots in the UK,” says Tebogo as she concludes the interview.

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