Saturday, April 17, 2010

Gaborone - the filthiest city? I don't think so

It says here that Gaborone must be 'among the few most unkept (sic) capital cities of the world'. Suspect the author has not travelled very far. I can think of many cities that are far more unkempt than Gaborone.

He quotes a South African teenager as saying 'but it looks so rural'. That's not really surprising given that the large South African cities have populations well more than the whole population of huge Botswana (1.8 million). And it does look rural - there are very few apartment blocks, most houses sit in their own, fairly large, plot, and the population is only around 250,000. Even the slums (Old Naledi?) are fairly spaced out - and I don't mean it in a hashish sense. In any case, 'rural' is not exactly synonymous with 'filthy'.

There are many ways of describing Gaborone - well spread out, lacking a city centre with a heart, short on historic buildings, very car-dependent, with people congregating in shopping centres or churches, but filthy? I have seen much worse - in most parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (Dushanbe in Tajikistan is also fairly rural, though its older city buildings are double the age of those in Gaborone), and indeed Western Europe (has the author ever been to London?), in other parts of Africa....

I wonder what spaces the author is talking about. Most businesses seem to employ more than enough cleaners to pick up every cigarette stub, or for one to wash the floor of the supermarket while her colleague stands beside her flapping a piece of cardboard to make it dry quicker. There does seem to be a problem with rubbish collection at the moment - I noticed the piles of rubbish bags near our office; but they are neatly placed in some large rubbish bag holders, for the moment. Apparently the city council has not collected rubbish since the end of last year due to a problem with machinery. Can't say I have noticed particularly - this place is not Naples...