Saturday, January 28, 2006

LT was devastated by his wife's betrayal. He put a brave face on things but it was evident that he was hurting inside. He put a lot of energy into his work and although at first hopeful that a reconciliation might be reached he gradually began to accept that his marriage was over.

LT had always been a fit and active man during the time I knew him but as time went by hebecame less healthy. LT began to lose weight and his energy levels dropped. I remember clearly that during our Christmas holidays LT called me to say he had been hospitalised. I was at Hwange National Park, in Zimbabwe, when he called. He sounded terribly weak on the phone and he told me that he was in Nyambgewe hospital on a drip. He was struggling for breath and had no energy.

LT recovered from this particular illness and was back at work in the New Year. He talked of his illness but there always remained, and still remains, the unspoken. LT was able to confide in me about many things but there was still a bridge too far when it came to telling me exactly what was wrong with him.

I guess that my assumptions that LT is HIV positive are to some extent unfounded but when someone suffers from poor health in their 30's in Botswana one does tend to jump to conclusions.

Before LT returned to work after being hospitalised the principle of the College called me to her office. She asked about LT's health and said that she was deeply concerned about him. Although she would not openly say 'I suspect he is HIV positive' she did ask me to talk to LT as a friend and advice him to take every test available. She also added that the College would 'look after' LT whatever was wrong with him. We both knew what she was talking about but we stuck to talking in code. That's Botswana!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

LT's world falls apart...

As I got to know LT he began to confide in me about aspects of his home life. The idylic home was little more than a charade. The woman whom he loved and adored did not recipricate his feelings. The marriage gradually disintegrated before my eyes. Things reached a finale when LT's wife told him that she had never loved him and only married him because she wanted to prove to her sisters that she could find a husband. Furthermore, she told him that she had been seeing another man during their marriage. LT was devastated. He asked her to accompany him to marriage conselling and begged her to give their marriage a chance. It was a lost cause. Before long she left him. LT was heartbroken but his broken heart was probably not the only consequence of his failed marriage...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

LT - the man had it all!

I stayed in a small self contained one bedroom flat on the campus of the college. Each lecturer had their own flat or house on campus. Lecturers with families might have 3 bedroom houses whereas single guys like me, at the time, had small flats. In fact the set up was the same for schools across Botswana. Every teacher was entitled to heavily subsidised accomodation - whether Motswana or ex-pat. No wonder I feel neglected and under-valued as a teacher back in the UK!

LT had a lovely 3 bedroom house that he shared with his beautiful young wife. I say young she was in her mid 20's whereas LT was around 30 at the time. LT worshipped the ground that she walked upon. As I grew disheartened by the way many guys treated women in Bots (and I don't just mean the local guys) I grew in respect for my friend. He seemed to have it all. A lovely wife, a nice home and excellent career prospects. Most importantly he was a genuinely nice bloke!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

My friend LT

LT was one of my best friends in Botswana. He was Bakalanga. That is the minority tribe in Botswana. The vast majority of the people are Tswana. Botswana the land of the Tswana - even the name Bo-Tswana has this meaning. The official indiginous language is Se-Tswana (Setswana) - thus the Bakalanga are a arguably to some extent disadvantaged living in Bots!

Anyway, LT was a great friend. When I arrived at the college to take up my post he welcomed me with open arms. We worked in the same team - both as Lecturers in Religious Education - and we quickly bonded. I had heard that some of the 'locals' might be a bit resistant to someone from overseas (or even from other African countries) - and especially a white man - being recruited by the college but LT certainly wasn't of this mindset. There were perhaps one or two of the Batswana who resented the fact that the British and Irish lecturers had additional contractual benefits and to be honest I didn't blame them at all. I had taken a 75% pay cut to work in Botswana but none of my colleagues would have known that and they would have seen that the perks of being an ex-pat worker were good. I think that many of the Batswana realised that their country could afford to pay for overseas professionals to mentor local colleagues and that this was in the main a positive thing. On the other hand too many of the Brits enjoyed the status of being 'a white man in Africa' too much and did not endear themselves to their Batswana colleagues. (see my entry 'Bob plays Russian Roulette')

So LT and I became good friends. We still keep in touch today.