13 May 2009

Lifting the Veil of Ignorance

Philosopher John Rawls wrote much on the topic of justice and in his seminal work, A Theory of Justice, Rawls describes a "veil of ignorance" that blinds representatives from seeing the individual characteristics of the represented. This lack of information about traditions and culture, religion and beliefs, results in a breakdown in leadership. And as George Kimble, an early 20th Century geographer so rightly stated, "The darkest thing about Africa has always been our ignorance of it." So many of our leaders, President Obama included, have the best intentions of helping my new, second homeland, Africa. And what I learned here in Botswana is that as much Africans appreciate our help and acknowledge its necessity, they desire to help themselves and develop their own homegrown solutions above all else. They worry that we are all to willing to disregard what distinguishes Batswana from the Shona from the Luo when creating development plans. Ignorance still describes most Americans' relationship to Africa and I can only hope that my semester here as poked a few holes in my own veil.

On a lighter note, today is my last day. Tonight I will go to bed and wake up tomorrow morning, jump in a cab and head off to the airport, America bound. I am going to miss all of my friends, local and international. I will miss, perhaps most of all, speaking Setswana with people who think I am still wearing a veil. A special thanks to my fellow CIEE comrades. They have put on a bold face in this new country and have truly carped some diem. Batsi Chidzodzo, our program director (pictured left) has made all of our lives here in Botswana as carefree as possible so we have the confidence and freedom to try new things, be them dried caterpillars for dinner or a road trip to South Africa.

As sad as I will be to leave this beautiful continent and country, I am excited to share so much of it with you. My summer will be quite busy and it will be a nice change of pace from Botswana time. I will be working for my uncle's new food recycling company, a financial literacy center for Somali immigrants in Minneapolis, as well as Matt Entenza's gubernatorial campaign. Once I am back in my ancestral home of Carver County on Friday, I look forward to seeing and talking with all of you, so make sure to be in touch.

I will still have some more thoughts and facts to share with you on this blog before I finish the Botswana chapter of my college career. So keep checking back over the next couple weeks.

Go siame, boRra le boMma!

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