Everything on this post is based upon information from the book: Report From Swanning Hill.
The book is probably not available and my copy “has been lost”.
In this way the following is from my unreliable memory.

A white South African, Patric v. Rensburg returned from work in Zaire (now Congo)
He returned home, just after the Shapwille Massacre and spoke his mind against the government.
He and his wife just escaped to Botswana, where they did what few others could do.

After escaping to Botswana, they had the option to get citizenship and settle in England.
However they felt that they belonged to Africa and he got a post as a teacher in a primary school.
Some of the children were not “selected” for secondary school. They were desperate and asked Patric v. Rensburg for help.

At this point he started what I dare to say was “what is needed in Africa”.
The boys were told that he would help
– They should build the school.
– Only one room to be used for sleeping, teaching and eating.
– They should do the cooking themselves.
– Probably much more.
It came out to be a success.

– Next generation wanted the privileged life of the ordinary schools.
– A lot of undefined grievances.
– They started to accuse Patric v. Rensburg of cheating and taking the
money for own use.
– The school was transferred to government control.

However he and his wife did not give up:
He started what I think was even much better:


Some boys, who had no chance to “go for the academic”, were joining-up in the brigades.
Probably the most successful was the Builders Brigade:
Helped by a Swedish volunteer, they started a contracting company.
– Only simple buildings in the town.
– The boys did everything themselves – even the planning.
– Soon there was profit enough for own living.
– One day a week for learning to write and some arithmetic.
– Soon the local contractors had to lower their prices.
– After five years it was OUT!!!
– No certificate – only bringing with them the skills.
– Some got employment as Foreman by a contractor.
– Others joined together and made their own company.
– Anyhow: They got a better life compared to the clever boys who were
admitted to the secondary school.

An electrician’s brigade was also successful.
An agricultural brigade was not able to make profit.
(Land is scares and expensive in Botswana.)
An auto-repair brigade destroyed itself in racial problems.
(Mechanics often have an awful language.)

Somehow I ask myself: Was Patric v. Rensburg an accountant?
– Huge parts of the book describe the economic aspects of the project.
– In my opinion it may be the key to success and multiplication.

See about Karen Gormsen

Back to START