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4.5 out of 5 stars31
4.5 out of 5 stars
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Will Randall (who I must admit became a good friend after he stayed with us in Kasane, Botswana and even taught my son at the school of this book!)has written an excellent insight into that magical country: Botswana, through the eyes of a happy-go-lucky teacher from the UK.
Will's lucky streak which always takes him into wonderful adventures, has never ceased to amaze me.
His previous books Solomon Time (he was sent to the Solomon Islands to establish a self sustaining project on the back of a 'dinner party' meeting in England) and Indian Summer (a journey to the sub-Continent after a chance meeting with an elderly lady in a London museum)established Will Randall as a travel writer with that special twinkle in his observant eye that has set him above many other travel writers. Bloodshot that eye may become, from time to time during his stay in Kasane, Botswana but the sparkle was always there and that is the wonder of Will who filled our lives with laughter, both in real life and through this, his third and arguably his best, book, and I wish him well.
Botswana Time is a gentle introduction to that landlocked country Botswana, larger than France (therefore twice the size of UK) and with a population of 1.3 million which is rapidly decreasing through the classless ravages of AIDS which Will Randall does not shirk from in his book.
Will flies from London to Cape Town for a wedding and ends up (in true Will Randall style!) on the banks of the Zambezi, in the village of Kasane, Botswana, some 1000 miles North of Cape Town! and teaching in a small school of wonderful kids and in charge (?!?) of the Kasane Kudus - THE football team of Kasane.
But this is a story of hope, seen through a man who genuinely loves the children he teaches and how he handles the many obstacles that "Africa" throws up in his journey, as he discovers the 'behind the tourist facade' of this great Continent of which has often been written: once Africa gets in your blood, you can never forget it.
Botswana Time is much more than a teacher in Africa - it is an accurate story of life in a remote African village. I would challenge anyone to say that their outlook had not been altered by reading this book. Here is a man who has taken the bull by the horns (sorry elephant by the tusks!) but if you are looking for Mr Randall, Mr Mango is atop the nearest tall palm tree!
As I mentioned at the start of this review, I might have been accused of being biased through friendship, but I am not. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and if you yourself have ever wondered 'why am I still doing this drudge every day' then here is a writer who may inspire you: for he left the rat race many years ago, and his Gods have looked down favourably on him ever since. It is inspirational (not to mention at times 'laugh-out-loud' hilariously funny) if you haven't been to Africa you will want to now, and if you have, you will agree with me: "Africa never leaves us" and further agree: 'Will Randall has written a worthy account of that appeal tah Africa holds' and in the words of Alexander McCall Smith who said it was "Wonderful, amusing and affirmative" may I congratulate Mr Randall and simply re-iterate "Bravo Mr Mango, Bravo!" Five stars Will, Loved it and thanks Andy McGregor
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on 8 June 2006
I bought it very much last-minute to while away the tedium of flying and was totally entranced from page one. I have not read either of his other books yet but they will definitely be my next purchases.

Will Randall's ability to mix humourous anectdote with serious/shocking facts is outstanding, but the very best part was the fact that he was able, in this day and age of targets/league tables etc etc, to teach in the "old fashioned way" and evoke a time long lost in this country when teachers were able to use inspiration and spontaneity in their methods.

I am not a teacher, but am married to a Headteacher and have worked for 15 years as a school secretary - so I do know of what I speak. I also have a keen interest in all things African since my daughter has a Tanzanian partner and is likely to spend her future years in Tanzania helping in the fight against AIDS.

This review is not biased in any way - this is a truly heartwarming book and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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on 31 October 2008
My whole family (including my 10 year old) have now read this book. He is a very good writer who observes Botswana with a discerning eye but with a lightness of touch. It's just a great story, whether you knew anything about Botswana beforehand or not. Having spent some time there, I can attest to the accuracy of his presentation of it, and it made me want to go back. It is packed with enough incident and story and insight, that it is much more than a simple travelogue. I will certainly hunt out more of his books.
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on 9 January 2010
I really enjoyed this book. I wanted to get a better feel for the country as I would like to spend some time in Africa contributing "something" to the people & wildlife.

The book is a delightful trip, very well observed. If you want a really good review then read the comprehensive one written by Andrew McGregor Black Isle Books as it tells you all you need to know.

What was particularly appealing to me was the enjoyment, enthusiasm and honesty of Mr Randall & his school children. It was fantastic to get a feel for how much could be achieved by teachers even with virtually no facilities. Just brilliant teaching & unending enthusiasm.

If you happen to have read any of my other reviews you will have seen that I read a lot of political books as I am in despair for the UK. I wont turn this into a rant, but its worth making the point that in this book you can see what a difference committed and enthusiastic teachers make with virtually no resources, so why do we have to spend billions of £s in the UK on buildings that may improve education by a nominal %, when surely we need scores of Mr Randall who can make education fun and memorable, and become a lifetime activity.

This book was a joy from 1st to last page. It is certainly not a book about teaching, as this is just is part of his travel story. For me, it was very uplifting and I wholeheartedly recommend the book
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on 24 November 2009
Being compared to Bill Bryson is rarely helpful for any writer as they then get compared directly to Bryson's particular writing style and brand of wit and never quite seem to measure up. In his own way, however, Will Randall is just as accomplished an author and 'Botswana Time' is a wonderfully uplifting book that deserves a wider readership.

Having been to Africa myself several times (though never to Botswana) I could really picture the landscapes described and relate to the natural warmth and optimism of people, especially the children. It must have been a heck of a wrench to eventually leave the school in Kasane where he taught.

Whilst in the book there is an undercurrent of living an idyllic life (teaching delightful kids desperate to learn, living in a remote house surrounded by African nature in all its double-edged magnificence), to his credit Will Randall does not flinch from the darker sides of life in Africa which he also came across in his time there, including the decimating effect of HIV that hits so many families and the appalling attitudes held by some (but by no means all) of the white ex-pats towards their African contemporaries. Well worth a read.
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on 21 July 2006
Will Randall once more finds himself taking a teaching job with a difference. This time he is teaching in a school in the town of Kasane in Botswana. Here he not only has to cope with teaching the children and running the football team,and living in a house with crocodiles and elephants on the doorstep, but has to also deal with some shady characters, and come to term with the devestation that AIDS is wrecking in Botswana.

Fans of Alexander McCall smith's 'No 1 Ladies Detective Agency' will be glad to know that the people of Botswana seem to be as kind, friendly and charming in real life as they are in that delightful series. It is cheering to read about an African country which, although it has its problems,seems to have a stable and decent government, and a population determined to make the best they can out of their country. Like will Randall's previous book 'Indian Summer' this is another book that makes you feel hopeful for the future of mankind.
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on 1 August 2011
I've always enjoyed Will Randall's books. He has an unerring knack of finding the story in real-life situations, and one imagines he must have missed out a lot of his experiences to create such a tightly-focused and engaging narrative. This could be a novel - Todorov and Propp's necessities for the perfect story are all there, something that few writers can achieve when dealing with non-fiction.

I've not given this five stars because I found Randall's conversational tone (admittedly, a part of his style) occassionally jarring. Too many adverbs and hedges. But that's a minimal gripe. Overall, this is a tender and lovely book, which reminded me of my time in Africa, why I had loved it so, and why I want to go back so much.
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on 31 August 2010
This is a lovely light-hearted story about the author's travels in Botswana. I bought it and read it the week before we went on holiday there. It was a great start to the holiday. I am not sure how good I would have found it had I not been going to Botswana though.
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on 5 July 2006
I first read Will Randall's work a few years ago when I was introduced to Soloman Time, which was a truly tremendous read. So I have been hugely looking forward to his third book and the talent is still definitely there.

In a similar fashion Will somehow haphazardly finds himself having his usual hair raising adventures travelling through Africa and before he knows it finds himself in the tiny town of Kasane, Botswana. He settles into life within this town easily and quickly, and this can basically be due to the many wonderful characters that welcome him and provide him with friendship and familiarity. There are so many unique and wonderful characters within this book and Randall's skill in describing his life with them is ultimately what makes this book such a magnificent read. And although Randall is now probably in some other area off the beaten track (hopefully preparing his next book???) I'm almost certain that life continues as always in Kasane; Elizabeth will be patiently teaching Standard One, Mma Mokwena will still be sternly continuing her school inspections, and who knows maybe Bothle is snoozing under a tree as I write this.......

A great book by an exceptionally talented writer. When I read it I couldn't put it down but I also didn't want it to end. If anyone is reading this and thinking of buying this book, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Now if only Mr Mango would hurry up and write another.......
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on 1 September 2008
this book will give anybody travelling to Botswana an insight into the culture. i absolutely loved it and it made me sit back and truely appreciate the country. Have lived here all my life and sometimes take it for granted. I tend to get frustrated that things don't happen fast enough or with the efficiency of the first world. Reading this book made me appreciate how unique Africa is and that the world would be a very boring place if everywhere was the same. Thanks Mr Randall, for teaching me how to love my country and people a little more!
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