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Mma Ramotswe shines spotlight on Botswana

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BOOK SIGNING: Writer, McCall Smith, signs a book for The Voice columnist, Tshepo Maphanyane

In an event hosted by Botswana Investment and Trade Centre in London at The Montcalm Hotel dubbed “In Conversation with Alexander McCall Smith”, the prolific writer got to share with the audience the idea behind the popular No 1 Ladies detective agency series.

20 books on, McCall Smith says in a world full of pessimism and endless problems, he has chosen to be a writer that tells of the good. What better place to set his books than a country he has since adopted as home, he said.

“I first came to Botswana in 1981 and lived in Gaborone that was much smaller then”.

Years later, McCall Smith still visits Botswana every year and shares the essence of the country with the world through his books. Often referred to by the lead protagonist; Mma Ramotswe the book series continue to capture the imagination of readers across the globe and have since encouraged travel tourism following an interest by many to visit Botswana.

Although the characters and stories are fictional, McCall Smith says the setting is representative of the Botswana he has come to fall in love with.

A beautiful country deeply rooted in the values of a culture of Botho. “The series mesmerize audiences with eloquent descriptions of Botswana’s untainted essence of blue skies, simple yet rich life, tea drinking under trees and inviting smells whilst enjoying the unmatched sunsets over acacia trees.

The audience of Batswana in the Diaspora and friends of Botswana were transported to this familiar setting whilst those that have never been equally salivated for the experience.

Offering an exquisite array of Setswana inspired dishes, Polish based Botswana chef; Joseph Seeletso tantalized the audience with beautifully prepared mophane worms, mabele (Sorghum), segwapa (Biltong) and other treats.

McCall Smith said, “Though the characters and stories told are fictional, the series do eloquently portray a real place with much of what is captured being true. “The world is plagued by problems however there is no point in being pessimistic. As a writer I choose to show the positive. I want to give the reader something to smile and be hopeful for.

He went on to say, “Botswana truly offers the kind of peace some have never known and whilst Botswana has since grown significantly it still retains the very essence that makes it special. The book series have since been turned into a screenplay and television series and with great enthusiasm the writer let on plans of a musical in the near future.

Commending the event organizers, His Excellency Revered Dr John Seakgosing, High Commissioner of Botswana to the UK said, “The story of Botswana is a very special one in the African continent. It is by and large a good news story and as you know good news don’t sell that entire well hence the deliberate steps to collaborate with people from a wide range of disciplines in promoting Botswana. Echoing the same sentiments, Bogolo Kenewendo – Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry praised the author for single handedly marketing and creating great publicity for the country through profiling Botswana through his books since 1998. The author was also praised for his grace and sensitivity in his depiction of Batswana’s culture and lifestyle.

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