Rutgers - Science Summer Abroad 2010
Nine Science Undergraduate Students Around the World

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Village Life

Last week, I stayed with another host family in the village of Mochudi, about 45 minutes outside of Gaborone. Mochudi isn't the typical African village that I pictured in my mind. Even though there were huts built from mud and straw as well as animals roaming throughout the streets, Mochudi was much bigger than I imagined, having a population of about 40,000. More like a small town than a village. Although my family was traditional in some respects, owning a cattle post (which I will get into later) and cooking traditional food, they were also westernized in some aspects (although slightly less so than my Gabs family). They owned a car (actually 3), which my Gabs family does not even have and enjoy cooking pasta and chips (french fries).

During my stay in Mochudi, I worked at a local clinic. To my surprise, the clinic there and the one where I worked in Gaborone were very similar. Maybe that was because Mochudi is more of a growing town than the tiny village I was expecting. I also noticed that the social and cultural customs that impacted the clinics in Gaborone also were present in Mochudi. For example, the lack of professionalism (from my viewpoint) that occurred when nurses interrupted patient appointments, which actually come from the absence of personal space, a cultural trademark.

I also visited my family's cattle post, which is simply a farm where animals are raised and, in some cases, crops (mostly maize and sorghum) are grown. To get there, we drove 45 minutes away from Mochudi, half on paved roads and half on dirt, leading to what seemed to be a cattle post located in the middle of the bush. Cattle posts are common in Botswana and many family own at least one. My family kept about 100 cows, 50 goats, and 25 birds (a mix of chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese). They let the animals roam free at certain times of the day to graze. Cows graze at night while the goats graze during the day to avoid the hyenas and jackals. My brother also showed me how to catch a chicken with my bare hands (go for the legs). What is not surprising is that my family slaughters these animals whenever they need meat. And later, I even got the pleasure (if this is the right emotion) to slaughter a chicken. While I am against animal cruelty (don't worry about the chicken, it was a quick death), I also enjoy eating meat. Somehow, I think it's better to know where exactly your food is coming from even if you have to slaughter it yourself than simply buying a mass produced product from the supermarket.

During my stay in Mochudi, I realized just how little time I have left in this beautiful country. As of this typing, I have just over a week left. It's sad to think that I will be leaving the place I have called home for the past 6 weeks. My host mom even told me that when I get married, she will fly out to my wedding. There's a certain kind of friendliness and hospitality that is unique to Botswana, something I will dearly miss.

Top picture: The view overlooking part of Mochudi from atop a a nearby hill
2: Some of the cattle on my family's cattle post


  1. Tim,
    Your posts are always interesting and informative. Thank you.

  2. Very interesting observations about the difference between your host families. Good for you for having the courage to slaughter a chicken. I complete understand your feels about animal cruelty and eating.

    Enjoy your remaining time in Botswana!