Botswana Lawn Tennis Association
Because the brewery had donated funds to the BNLTA, which helped organise tennis tournaments in the country and to fund trips for juniors to play in tournaments in neighbouring countries, I was inveigled into chairing the committee which ran the BNLTA.
During my first meeting as chair there was a discussion regarding Euphemia, the BNLTA’S very hard-working voluntary coach of the juniors, and her proposed trip to Lesotho. At the time, Air Botswana ran a once weekly direct flight from Gaborone to Maseru, the capital of Lesotho. The flight crossed South Africa but didn’t need to land there.
I asked why Euphemia just didn’t go via Jo’burg, to which there were several flights a day from Gaborone and I assumed the same applied from Jo’burg to Maseru.
I noticed Euphemia looking uncomfortable and we eventually agreed on the direct flight.
After the meeting one of the other members of the committee came up to me saying, ‘That was all a bit insensitive of you, all that discussion about Euphemia going via Jo’burg.”
“Was it? What’s the problem?”
“You know Euphemia is Oliver Tambo’s sister, don’t you?”
“Oh my God! No, of course I didn’t,” was my response. “I’m so sorry. Don’t worry I’ll sort it out with her.” I knew if Oliver Tambo’s sister had ever dared to set foot in South Africa, she would have been immediately arrested and permanently locked up, regardless of whether or not she was involved with the then banned ANC.
For those who don’t know, Oliver Tambo was Nelson Mandela’s partner in a legal practice in Jo’burg. He was sent to London to run the ANC office there, when Nelson Mandela agreed to set up ‘Umkonto we Sizwe’, the military wing of the ANC in the late 1950’s.
Regardless of my faux-pas I was able to establish a very good relationship with Euphemia. She did an enormous job of coaching the juniors. Even on the very hottest of Sundays, she was to be found tirelessly and enthusiastically urging her charges on at the local tennis club.
When I left Botswana Euphemia and the juniors presented me with a clock with an image of an Elephant on it. It now has pride of place in my office in Sydney.