Life Stories

Pam Shelton, founder of the Botswana Book Project, visited Bana Ba Metsi School and talked with several boys about their backgrounds, how they came to be at Bana Ba Metsi, and their plans for the future. These are their stories.........



Zuka is now 16 years old and this is his story…
Zuka has a memory of his father living with him when he was very small but his longest memory is of living in Maun with his mother, his brother and uncle. He did not attend school. Zuka’s brother told him he could not attend school as they had no transport. He felt his mother was waiting for him to grow up. Meanwhile he just hung around Maun. Zuka’s mother died when he was 15 and the Maun Council brought him to Bana ba Metsi where he has received his first schooling.

Zuka feels Bana ba Metsi is good for him. He likes the house building classes in the afternoon the most. He has found the classroom subjects very difficult, especially English, and he struggles with the class work. He laughs when he remembers helping Bright in the swimming pool. Zuka is quite tall so even the deep end of the pool is fine for him. Zuka stays with his sister in Maun during school holidays. He had six sisters, although there are some who have died. He misses school when he is on holiday, as there is nothing to do. Zuka feels a special bond to his friend Bright, as they both hear each other talking to their late mothers at night when they can’t sleep. The both feel losing their mothers is the most significant thing that has happened to them.

When he leaves Bana ba Metsi, Zuka would like to learn to drive a car and then get a job working as a driver for the council.



Bright is 15 years old, living at Bana ba Metsi and this is his story…
He was born in Namibia but he moved to Ghanzi, Botswana with his mother and 3 elder sisters when he was 12. He disliked school, especially the discipline, and often ran away. His mother was angry at this but he would not attend school in Ghanzi. When Bright was 13, his mother died, a fact that still brings tears to Bright’s eyes. At this time, his elder sister sent him to the Perma Culture Program in Ghanzi to learn the care of goats and traditional reed house building techniques. He completed the program, received the certificate and was then sent to Botswana Brigades to learn the business of raising and selling chickens. Bright received a Brigades certificate and then he attended a camp near Ghanzi where boys are counseled about the negative effects of drinking, smoking and doing drugs and he earned a third certificate. Despite these certificates, Bright still lacked a Primary School Leaving Certificate so he was unable to join his peer group to attend Junior Secondary School. His elder sister heard about Bana ba Metsi and she contacted Mr. Harpt and asked him to enroll Bright in January 2009.

Bright finds the classroom lessons easy, learns quickly and will no doubt obtain his PSC when he sits for the exam next year. In the past 5 months, he has made several close friends, especially Zuka, age 16. Bright says that one thing that links him and Zuka in friendship is that they have both lost their mothers and they miss them a lot. Also, Bright and Zuka admit they are not fighters and although the intimidation of a few of the older boys is frightening, they are coping as they are not alone. Bright’s favorite activity is the house building classes in the afternoon. He is proud to explain the various techniques and tools used to make bricks, build the walls, pour the floors, install metal window frames etc.
When he grows up, Bright thinks he would like to be a policeman, or maybe a house builder. He also is proud that he learned to swim. When Bright was new, an older boy threw him in the deep end and Zuka came to his rescue and became his best friend. In turn, Bright has helped to teach several of the younger boys to swim. Bright has mastered the game of snooker which seems to be a favorite game with most of the younger boys. He is also a good dancer and he moves to the beat when the boys in the marimba band practice. He can converse well in English and is a wonderful tour guide for English speaking visitors to Bana ba Metsi.
He will be sorely missed by the school when he graduates to Junior Secondary School.


Zuma is now 18 years old.
He was born in the town of Lobatse. When he was three years old, his mother left him with his grandmother. Zuma ran away and lived in the bush where he remembers sleeping in dustbins for 3-4 years. Life was hard. At the age of 8 or 9, he went to the Council and asked for help. They took him to Molepolole Centre where they told him he needed to attend school, which he had never done. He was brought to Bana ba Metsi School where he has been ever since.

Zuma remembers the first year at Bana ba Metsi as hard work especially learning to read. He says Mr. Mahore is the best teacher of English, a subject that Zuma finds difficult to learn. Zuma is now a prefect, Deputy Head Boy. He feels like Bana ba Metsi is his home and he is sad at holidays when it is time to go to Lobatse and stay with his uncle. He would like to get piece jobs in Lobatse the next school holiday. Zuma likes to do building, carpentry and plumbing.

He would like to become certified as a plumber at Brigades after he leaves Bana ba Metsi.



Prince is now 16 years old. He has been at Bana ba Metsi for one year.

Prince was born in Palapye but his family moved to Francistown when he was young. He lived with his mother, sister and younger brother as his father lives in Palapye. Prince attended school but life was difficult as his mother had no job and no money to help him. He dropped out of school in Standard 6. The social worker arranged for Prince to attend Bana ba Metsi.

He likes mechanics and workshops the best and finds English is his biggest challenge. Prince would like to know more about woodworking opportunities in Junior Secondary School for when after he graduates from Bana ba Metsi.


John is now 13 years old and this is his story…

He was born in Maun where he lived with his mother and one brother and one sister. He attended primary school in Maun but was often in trouble for beating other students. The Maun Council decided John should attend Bana ba Metsi School and he has been here for a year. He has no problems with Bana ba Metsi; he likes the building projects although schoolwork is a bit difficult, especially English.

He has no special interests but just feels life is OK.