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Botswana, Africa -  The Marang Community Junior Secondary School Steelpan Ensemble is a shining example to young people in landlocked Botswana.   In a country where 38 percent of the 1.7 million people are infected with HIV/AIDS and a similar quantum thus affected these students are determined to win the battle.  So instead of following their age mates and indulging in chibuku - a local beer - and being tempted by sex these youngsters spend a whole lot of their spare time playing the steelpan.

Their steadfastness has put them in an enviable position as they continue to mystify their audiences where ever they play.  They continue to ear their wears at most national celebrations in Botswana. They often team up with the school's mokojumbies to participate in many a walk-a-thon.  Their repertoire includes the country's national anthem, religious, calypso, African ditties among others.  This year they were the surprise act for the visiting head of State the  Right Honorable Owen Arthur Prime Minister of Barbados.

One panist who has been diagnosed ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is attributed to be the most vibrant and entertaining dancer on stilts. He holds the distinction for being the first from Botswana to have composed a piece of music specifically for pan i.e. in spite of having no exposure to any form of music prior to his introduction to the world of steelpan in 2003.

Many a listener of pan on the continent of Africa are still taken aback upon hearing the mellifluous sound coming from the pan. Some go as far as peeping under the instrument to see if there were any electronic devices attached beneath.

Earlier this month they gave a pan welcome to visiting American Panist Ms. Dolisa Green of Dem Stars Steel Orchestra who got to know them through the internet .

Hollis Clifton
Africa Correspondent 
When Steel Talks

More On Hollis Clifton
The Clifton's Posse in Botswana - Kaisoka Rhythm Section has been providing the impetus for the West Indies Cricket team whenever they tour South Africa and Zimbabwe. They have been in Botswana for the last six years pumping up the Trinidad culture. 

One of Mr. Cliftons' more fulfilling achievements since his sojourn in Botswana has been  the pursuit of a course in HIV/AIDS Care and Counseling at the University of South Africa which has better equipped him to deal with his charges - given the havoc the disease is causing in Botswana (and Sub Sahara Africa in general).


- When Steel Talks -

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