Reading Botlhodi Jwa Nta Ya Tlhogo, a novel by T. Pheto, a Motswana writer, I realise how Batswana may have had so little knowledge or no knowledge at all about World War 2. A rather funny character by the name Mogami tells some of his own regiment at a drinking depot that this war is between the Germans, Mageremane and the British, Maenglishmane. Rumour has it that cheif Hitler, Hitlelera is fighting cheif Churchill, Tshatshahili because the latter is in love with a beautiful young woman called Queen, George descedant, so necessarily these two guys are fighting over the Queen.Because Hitler is so powerful, he therefore wants to forcifully take the Queen.In silence the men who had flocked a drinking depot look on and listen attentively to a rather bitter Mogami, Why should we then be involved in a war of love and again we are so far away from this war saga,it is far beyond Bamangwato area(a region in Botswana for which Mogami had never been to).To make such an estimation of the distance between where the war was and where Mogami is makes me feel so sorry of these men for some of them never came back, there is a ship called MMendi which never came ashore from World war from which some African men died.One man who survives from drowning lets us know through a poem entitled, Go nwela ga Mmedi, The Sinking Ship
Sadly later in the book Mogami is hunted by a group of strong regiment (to which Mogami subscribes to)sent by Kgosi so that he goes to war.He runs to hide and a couple of women who have infact seen Mogami play ignorant in an attempt to protect and safe him from going to war.Seeing the intent of these men, he runs as quicly as his feet can carry him and fortunately finds a food storage nearby and hides.While the rest of the regiment search for Mogami ensue two men remain for a while because of fatigue and decide to sit ontop of the storage because of fatigue but unfortunately Mogami alerts them, he farts.The two men investigate but they cannot match Mogamis speed.A young woman in confinement with her baby in hand is run down by Mogami who as quick as lighting assumes this breastfeeding mothers role, he finally finds refuge. The men pass for a man can never go in near a confinement hut, inside the hut was and is an outright taboo.This belief is still prevalent even today although some urban elite do not observe this practice nowdays.
For the record, Ten thousand Bechuana (Batswana) men from Bechuanaland served in the British Army together with Basuto (Basotho) and Swazi from Basutoland and Swaziland during World War II; lesser numbers served in the Union (of South Africa) Defence Force in World Wars I & II. For general discussion of this literature see Jackson in Journal of Military History (2002) . For a succinct account of Bechuana soldiers in World War II see Ramsay articles.