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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
Botswana Time
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on 21 August 2008
Will Randall has a way of living and then telling you what happened during his life that is entertaining, sad, funny and interesting all in one volume. This is a great representation of voluntary work in Africa and shows the patience and perseverence needed to achieve much in developing countries. It also shows how rewarding and what an amazing experience this can be. I have bought this book for several people as a present and nobody has been disappointed. Other books he has written are just as well written, so explore further...
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on 1 April 2017
I am Visiting Kasane in Botswana this coming June. So decided to do some background reading to get a feel for the place. I found this book to be enchanting. A good story well told.
The environment and people are nicely described, I found the book to be a real page turner.
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on 17 October 2017
Good book
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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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I spent some time in Botswana earlier this year so I can confirm that this book captures the charm of this beautiful country. We start in Cape Town where our author, Will Randall attends a boozy wedding weekend and is cajoled into joining a rough overland tour as Cook and guide. His cooking skills are slight and his knowledge of the region even less. After various adventures and mishaps on reaching Kasane on the Chobe river, Botswana, he leaves the tour and is soon adopted as a primary school teacher come football coach. We meet several interesting two legged and even more four legged inhabitants: the nasty white hunter, a kindly police chief, devoted parents, cute kids, warthogs with a penchant for video stores, elephants with no respect for gardens and a particularly stupid baboon. All described with humour and an obvious fondness.
If you have ever visited Botswana this will take you back to these wonderful people, Chobe's animal paradise and the African bush. If not I garantee that after reading Botswana Time you will put a visit on your "must do" list.
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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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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 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 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 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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