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Book Review and Life In South Africa and Botswana

Updated on February 13, 2013

Kalahari Road

Under a sky with no ceiling.
Under a sky with no ceiling.

"The Cupboard Of Life" In Botswana

Though near the great Kalahari Desert, Botswana is not full of dry peoples. They are vibrant and vital, rich in backgrounds and experiences. They have survived various forms of governments in coming into the more modern period of the country and into the 21st Century.

Mma Precious Ramotswe is happy in her late 30's in the modern Botswana, keep traditional morality and human kindness alive while she modernly operates her own business and owns her own house and land. She even provides people with jobs in Gaborone. Why, she has a maid, an assistant detective in Mma Makutsi at the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, and parcels out part-time work to a few older men that are down on their luck but still skillful.

The agency is successful and has not been hurt by the shallow and aggressive Satisfaction Guaranteed Detective Agency led by an ex-CID, ex-New York, but still falsely ingratiating "businessman." Mma Ramotswe is gaining oven new respect and more clients when it is proved that she and Mma Makutsi are better prepared and more skillful in solving the cases that the people of Gaborone and Southern Africa need remedied.

Mma Ramotswe also is engaged to the wonderful Mr. J.B.L. Matekoni, head mechanic and owner of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. He sometimes goes to the Go Go Handsome Men's Bar, but it is not really his cup of bush tea. He'd rather be working on Mma Ramotswe's tiny white van and helping her with some of her detective cases and spending time in his garden and with his two foster children. He still goes out to the local orphan farm to help them with their electric water pump and other apparatus and is an altogether kind and general man. he has nearly given up on his two auto mechanic apprentices, by Mma Makutsi acts as shop manager and keeps them in line. They even assist on some of her assigned detective cases – especially if they involve beauty contests.

Flag of Botswana.
Flag of Botswana.

Talking Shoes

Mma Makutsi has become friendly with Phuti Radiphuti, the owner of the Double Comfort Furniture Shop. She helps him to speak around his stutter, which is fading into the background, and he focuses on her being and not her big round glasses. he also buys her shoes of all colors and styles. Her shoes speak with her as she looks at them when she is showing respect for bosses, clients, and elders. Sometimes they joke – Oww, Boss! You really put your foot into it now!

They are wise guys, these shoes!

There is much going in Gaborone, Botswana; where freeways are wide dirt roads near the edge of the Kalahari Desert. The cupboard is indeed full. And when you put too much into a cupboard, what happens? Like Fibber McGee's noisy radio show's closet, things spill out with the clatter of the thunder of avalanche. All that is lacking is more frequently spent long weekends for Mma Ramotswe in her home village of Mochudi, where things are still Traditional and not so Modern. And it is too modern for Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni to be doing a parachute jump to help the orphan farm!

The Full Cupboard of Life

Mysteries Uncover Life

From such a full cupboard of things for rejoicing, also come situations to be solved gently and some more aggressively. And whenever the cupboard seems to becomes a little on the empty side, it quickly becomes filled once more. It is the never ending cupboard, this vessel.

Mma Ramotswe has a Modern case. Mma Holonga owns of a chain of hair-braiding salons and is making a good living. In fact, she is wealthy. Four men are pursuing her for a romantic relationship and she is suspicious of their motivations – love or money – or a free place to live, perhaps. The braiding magnet hires Chief Detective Mma Ramotswe to investigate each man thoroughly and carefully, her two best practices. She declares also:

"Men are always looking at women and judging them. Now we have the chance to do some judging back."

These may prove dangerous words, because people sometimes do not appreciate being investigated and sometimes detectives are very much surprised with their findings, are they not? Meanwhile. Head Mechanic and business owner Matekoni must arrange all the fine details of his impending marriage to Mma Ramotswe. The details are crowding the cupboard so that nothing else can be seen inside of it. How will he ever get it all done? And also, Mma Matkutsi must move from her small house that she shared with her brother while he was combating AIDS. There is so much to do!

The Unfurling Land

Much is accomplished in this installment of Alexander McCall Smith's gentle and honorable series of the stories about Botswana and her peoples. Botswana entered the modern age after the British Protectorate with her citizenry preserving traditional customs and compassion while assimilating the good parts of the modern West. Each book in the series is full of scrolls unfurling to show a picture of an upstanding nation that welcomes friends and strangers into its heart. The gently life lessons taught and accepted by Mma Ramotswe make progress less disruptive to us all.  

At the same time, the HBO television series of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency becomes more entertaining and likeable with each new episode. They contain the stories of the book series, while adding some additional development to the story lines and subplots that prove to be very intriguing. Viewers can hardly wait for the next show. Even those that have enjoyed harsher stories in Law and Order in all of its iterations, excitement and mystery in Lost, jealousies and subterfuge in Survivor, and all manner of disturbing things in many television series also look forward to HBO's No, 1 Ladies Detective Agency .this show should enjoy several seasons of renewal and will put onto the screen dozens of McCall Smith's stories against the wild country and gentle peoples of Botswana near the Kalahari.

Botswana: Open for Business

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