Botswana

Home 2012 – All Kasi

   

   

   

The country

Located in Southern Africa between Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, the landlocked nation of Botswana – with just two million people scattered over an area roughly the size of France – ranks among the world’s most sparsely populated countries meaning citizens are regularly forced to traipse great distances to their nearest hospital, well or even neighbours, which is tad inconvenient for those in urgent need of life saving medication, clean water or simply a cup of sugar. Around 17% of Botswana’s land is designated as national parks, all of which teem with majestic beasts, exotic plant life and American safari tourists so morbidly obese they would keep the lions fed for a good six months were they to tumble from the back of the jeep. The country also boasts Africa’s highest concentrations of elephants, rhinoceros and meerkats, making it unfortunately a prime target for poachers looking to pilfer ivory tusks, rhino horn, two for one cinema tickets or great deals on their car insurance.

Despite being relatively few in number, Botswana’s human inhabitants are a suitably fascinating bunch. While English remains the official tongue due to the country’s British colonial history, there still exists nomadic hunter gatherers who cling to their unique Khoisan ‘click’ languages, most of which sound uncannily as if the speaker is choking to death on a fish bone. Most notable among these groups would have to be the famous San Bushmen of the rural north, a hardy breed known for their hunting skill, resourcefulness and liberally bruised torsos from numerous unwarranted Heimlich manoeuvres. The majority of the populace however are descended from the original Tswana tribes for whom the country is named, and many today still adhere to ancient dietary taboos whereby no clan must eat the physical representation of their protective totem, a restriction that variously prohibits consumption of fish, buffalo, warthog, baboon and even porcupine, (Hyena is also off the menu for certain folk, although I understand their bones can be used to produce a laughing stock.)                The only creature deemed off limits for everyone is the crocodile, probably not a difficult consensus once they realised that an ill-tempered 15 ft armoured handbag sporting more teeth than Luis Suarez standing in a hall of mirrors might not be the easiest option for a light lunch.

Botswana is often described as an African success story and has even been called the continent’s “least corrupt nation”, a backhanded compliment if ever there was one.,it’s a bit like being the best of the Twilight films. Following independence in 1966 the country hit the economic jackpot, stumbling upon three fabulously wealthy diamond mines right in their backyard. Today Botswana is the world’s largest producer of gem diamonds, pumping out exquisite stones like there’s no tomorrow, which sadly might literally be the case for many of the Tswana folk who suffer from the highest rates of HIV infection on the planet. Thankfully the ever-helpful UN are usually on hand to dispense useful supplies, principally consisting of red AIDS awareness wristbands and condescending lectures about abstinence.

On the football field, Botswana seemed destined never to cause even a ripple, never mind a splash, in international waters, having spent around 99% of their existence generously boosting the morale and goal differences of superior opponents. Then, in one of the most blink and you’ll miss it surges in international football history, the national team not only defied all the odds to qualify for the 2012 African Cup Of Nations but they did so emphatically, becoming the first country to officially seal their place, ousting continental giants Tunisia in the process.

Unfortunately, like an unprepared and slightly ungainly child thrust into the spotlight of the school play, Botswana effectively stumbled offstage straight into the orchestra pit and haven’t been seen or heard from since. The team’s performances at the finals in Gabon weren’t especially poor – a 6-1 mauling by Guinea notwithstanding – with narrow defeats to Ghana (1-0) and Mali (2-1), but, almost immediately following the tournament, a good chunk of the squad announced their international retirements* leaving a void so substantial that a planned friendly against Egypt less than a month later had to be cancelled due to reasons of not actually having any players. Needless to say they haven’t come close again since and even lost to tiny Comoros in the 2017 qualifiers. Oh well, easy come easy go.

*Most of the retirees weren’t even particularly old, some called it a day due to a row with the BFA over unpaid bonuses which, as anyone with a passing knowledge of African football will know, is a depressingly common theme.

The shirt

Botswana are nicknamed after the less than mighty Zebra, a lazy feckless horse that wanders around the savannah in its pyjamas in the manner of an obese Glaswegian single mum waddling through Asda pushing armloads of Haribo into the trolley. Also, their usual role in any David Attenborough nature documentary is to be stalked and devoured alive by more powerful creatures such as lions, leopards and other animals represented on the shirts of African footballing heavyweights. So, quite the appropriate nickname all things considered.

All Kasi (apparently a local brand) really went all out with the zebra motif on these kits to the point where this design is the subtle version.                  The third kit (pictured below) looks like someone tried to stitch together a Newcastle United shirt whilst either hideously drunk, having a seizure or tripping their tits off on LSD. Quite possibly all three.                 Back to my shirt; I initially missed out on these when my friend Nick imported some back in 2012 only to find one for sale on ebay a little while later which I managed to win for a reasonable price. I won’t disclose how much but, as I’ve seen them go for over £130, you’ll have to believe me when I say it was a bargain.

 

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