Legacy – Swaneng Linked Schools

Molepolole work-camp: Martin Kibblewhite describes the dissemination of the Swaneng philosophy.

News of the effectiveness of the voluntary work at Swaneng soon got around, and it wasn’t long before students at the secondary school at Molepolole invited some Swaneng students to come to their village to help them build a classroom. Some of the older, stronger and more experienced Swaneng students formed a work-party, and soon Donald Curtis and I were on the train with them.

Travelling Fourth Class was a new experience. We had always used Second Class in Africa – relatively luxurious, with bunks and wash-basins, in compartments. Waiters would go up and down the corridors with chimes, calling mealtimes. It was probably like the heyday of rail travel in late-nineteenth/early-twentieth century Britain.

Fourth class provided wooden benches in open carriages. Instead of bunks, people slept in the luggage-racks. There was a jolly sociable atmosphere – once people had got used to the sight of two White men travelling Fourth with a group of young Batswana.

Sellers of food and snacks went continually up and down, crying their wares. A Church (the congregation, not the building!) was aboard. With the women all in white they processed along the train, harmony-singing beautiful hymns. At stations, people crowded under the train windows selling carvings and wood -turnery.

Arrived in Molepolole, Donald and I were accommodated in the home of one of the teachers. Students were dispersed to the homes of their hosts.

To build the classroom, we got hold of a ’Finemore’s Travelling Builder’ – a popular machine in Southern Africa. It consisted of a metal box – like one for making concrete blocks – which travelled along the top of the wall being built. Simple to use, and quite quick.

A supply of ’River Sand’ – coarse sand collected from a river bed – and bags (’Pockets’ weighing 90lb.) of cement being assembled, we started work. Boys mixed the sand/cement mix, and brought it to the builder. The water supply was some distance away, so girls in a constant chain brought it to the site in buckets balanced on their heads.

Soon we needed door and window-frames. One of the teachers from the school undertook to get these donated by traders in the village. The teacher cunningly made the most of this situation, telling one trader after the other what had already been donated, spurring each to outdo the others in generosity. We rushed round the stores, and in a short time we had as much as we needed or more, incuding timber and corrugated iron for the roof.

By the end of the week the walls were well-advanced. The work-camp was judged a success, and another was later organised to finish the job. I never saw the final result – I hope the Travelling Builder produced a strong building.

Carrying Water
460 – Carrying the water for concrete – Molepolole Workcamp August 1966.

The whole exercise was very effective in ‘bonding’ staff and students, and creating a link between schools. There was a festive (though serious) atmosphere to the project.

Swaneng Primary School by Jan Hawkes

Mike Hawkes descibes the foundation of Mahalapye – Madiba Education and Training Centre

Mike Hawkes is invited back to Madiba Email to Mike Hawkes from former Madiba students

Read about Mike Hawkes’s invitation to  Madiba Prize Giving Day

Now read Mike Hawkes’s report on his and Jan’s trip to Botswana to attend the Prize Giving Day

How engineering design and construction principles were used to build Madiba Education and Training Centre by Erik Kool

Erik Kool’s photos

Tutume: Matume McConnell Senior Secondary School: Peter Roberts gives an account

Tonota: Shashe River School Pages 4, 5


We have made every effort to make this website accurate but a document of this type is prone to mistakes and omissions, for which we apologise.  If you spot any errors let us know about them by contacting us here :- Contact



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