1978. One of the first things we put right, when we arrived in Gabs, was to install a pub in the brewery’s main boardroom. It was open to all monthly paid employees from 5 pm to 6 pm every weeknight.
Within a few weeks of opening the pub the brewery’s faithful secretary, Wally, said to me, “Guy, ve mus’ hav’ pub night.” (Whatever else the Germans failed to do they certainly engendered a sense of loyalty among their expat employees).
Wally’s son, also living in Gabs, had recently died of cerebral malaria. He had left a wife and three children, almost destitute. Wally felt it was her duty to look after them.
“Wally, what the hell are you talking about?”
“Once a week we should invite guests from around Gabs to come and have a drink with us in the new pub.”
I was conscious of the fact that there was some resentment in the town now that we had been reinstated as partners in the brewery business. There were all sorts of rumours floating about. In particular, that we were in the process of introducing an apartheid-style regime at the brewery, now that we had taken over. Nothing could have been further from our minds, of course.
So Wally organised PUB NIGHT once a week, when we invited guests, mainly from institutions in Gabs, such as The Ministry of Finance, The Ministry of Commerce, the University and so on. There were also large Chinese and Russian embassies in Gaborone, whose staff, usually accompanied by the Ambassador, happily came along; they were obviously there as listening posts, since they were unable, or unwilling, to have embassies in Pretoria at the time because of the prevailing apartheid regime in South Africa. Most of the embassies, British, American and so on were regular (maybe annual) guests; even the non-drinking Libyans were persuaded to come when Yusuf, our Jordanian engineer, told them we also produced soft drinks.
Soon it became de rigeur for the movers and shakers in Gabs to be invited to Pub Night at the brewery.
Within weeks all the silly rumours regarding an apartheid-style regime at the brewery just stopped. The majority, by far, of our people entitled to drink in the pub were of course local Motswana.
I usually listened to Wally’s advice.