Welcome to Botswana’s Top Achievers & Debswana Scholars

Principal Andrew Taylor with Top Achievers

Welcome to you all. Each of you has done exceptionally well in your studies. Each of you deserves congratulations for earning the title of Top Achiever or Debswana Scholar or both.

I extend an especially warm welcome to your families because your high personal achievement is, in fact, not personal. Your success rests on a foundation of nurturing and caring, in a word, love. This love has come primarily from your mothers and fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, maybe even the love of your siblings, quite probably the love of your friends and classmates and most certainly the sustained caring and love of your teachers.

Never forget that love underpins your success. Just as a plant won’t grow without the right soil, sunlight and water, so students such as yourselves didn’t just pop up. You grew through the efforts of others. You were raised and praised, fed and led, clothed and cautioned. You were watered in the fertile soil of your families and schools.

And I must give a shout out to two schools: seven of you are from Mater Spei and four from St. Joseph’s. Well done. Your schools are quite rightly proud of you! Whatever your particular sources of support, please would you all be kind enough to rise up now and give your families, friends, teachers and schools a standing ovation.

Thank you.

And while we’re giving thanks I would like to note that one of you wrote of God’s love by saying: “God never turns a blind eye on those who break their backs trying to cut the mustard.”

Whoever helped you to cut the mustard, from on high or here below, they have helped you gain self-confidence; this love has helped you believe in yourselves. Your confidence is evident in your applications. I’ve read all of them and learned a bit about your plans.

One of your fellow students said that Maths and Physics are challenging subjects that “need a focused person who is also persistent. I am that person.”

Your teachers are no less confident about your abilities.

One wrote that you are “a very fine student who is destined for greatness in life.” Another said you are “a conqueror who faces challenges head-on.” A further tribute holds that you “represented your school in regional fairs and emerged a giant.”

You are ambitious. Four of you want to be doctors. Two wish to battle cancerous tumors and become oncologists, one wants to heal the brain and do the delicate work of a neurosurgeon, another desires to understand the human heart and practice invasive cardiology.

Nine of you are fascinated by the critical and creative work of engineering. One of you was inspired to become an engineer when you passed by the stadium in Serowe. You saw the stadium’s defects and resolved to build better structures. Two of you seek to master electrical and electronic engineering, one wishes to do geotechnical engineering, one civil and structural, one chemical, two mechatronic, two more want to master what you call “automation, instrumentation and control engineering.” Never heard of it, but sounds like it might be useful. Your skill will make the critical difference as to whether Botswana’s stadiums, and other structures, rise or fall.

Several of you are drawn to the intricate world of finance. One of you wishes to calculate insurance risks and premiums and become an actuarial scientist. Another wishes to do operational research, statistics and economics. A third wishes to become a quantitative financial analyst. I hope you will protect the hard-earned money of the poor and the nest eggs of pensioners. Please help us catch the crooks and the corrupt whatever the color of their shirt collars!

I’m particularly glad for Debswana and the mining industry that at least two of you want to become geologists! I’m sure there are still quite a few rocks of great value in Botswana. Their location is just waiting to be revealed by you.

Whatever your career ambitions, I hope you all stay open-minded about your future possibilities and treasure your most valuable possession: a curious mind. Speaking of curiosity, I’m delighted that one of you is fascinated by that delicious Botswana delicacy, mophane worms, also known as crunchy caterpillars. You noted the mophane worms’ attempts to camouflage their location by taking on the appearance of tree bark. Those cunning caterpillars! We should all look at nature with enough intensity to see the worms on the bark of a tree.

Most importantly you bring a determination to help others. You’ve helped your fellow students, you’ve tutored those who struggle to understand subjects that you have mastered. You have worked to protect children and in one case, you helped put shoes on their bare feet. You care about your communities and we will ask you to keep helping those who desperately need your assistance.

You join MaP at widely different ages. One of you is still 16 and another is well over 19. One of you has a sensational middle name: Ditso “Delight” Tirelo. You come from all over this nation: from Charles Hill in the west to Francistown in the east, from Sehithwa in the north to Lobatse in the south. Some of you come from right here in Gaborone: Kgale View, Railpark, Block 8, Broadhurst and Tlokweng.

You come from a Botswana that is changing rapidly, from Ramotswa with Botswana’s first woman to serve as Paramount Chief, to Palapye, once a sleepy village, but which is now an investment hub with four large malls, many new hotels and lodges and a soon-to-be-constructed international airport.

Some of your previous school experiences will be useful. If you like reading, you’re going to love the MaP library. We welcome your skills on the basketball courts, on the football and rugby fields, in debates, at chess matches and in “Top 20 Shootout Quizzes.” This is a place for expanding your interests and unleashing your passion. Team and school spirit is alive and well at MaP and we want you to be part of it.

Our hope for the next two years at MaP is that you will grow and flourish. This will happen when you pass on the love and care that you have been shown. This will happen each time you help one another to solve an equation or understand an algorithm. It will blossom each time you take the buds out of your ears and truly listen to someone else’s story. It will grow each time you remember to thank a teacher for an inspiring lesson.

And never forget to make a call, write a note or share a photograph with those teachers and family members who have launched you. Great and giving lives are built on expressions of gratitude, on a generous spirit and a determination to master skills that will serve others.

Good Luck, Godspeed and PULA!

~ Andrew Taylor Principal, Maru-a-Pula School