Botswana and Indonesia (Aceh)

Owen Bennett Jones introduces insights, with and analysis from correspondents abroad. In this edition, Jon Silverman finds that while Botswana might seem "more like America than Africa" at first sight, it's a country that still looks both ways, to its past as well as its future. Jonathan Barker accompanies an orangutan once kept as a pet back to the wild, in the forests of Aceh in Sumatra.

A jewel in the heart of Africa

If you have not read any of the Number One Ladies' Detective Agency books, you may be unaware of the debate that surrounds them. The basic idea is that female detective in Botswana solves various mysteries. Supporters say the stories are funny, charming and - at last - show an African country in a positive light. Critics say they are patronising, unrealistic and gloss over real social problems such as Aids.

Jon Silverman has been getting to see for himself what Botswana is really like - and suitably enough, given the literary associations, he did so by visiting the country's police training college.

Getting used to forest food

The statement that war and natural disaster damage the environment might seem pretty uncontroversial. But it doesn't always turn out like that. In the Indonesian region of Aceh, on the island of Sumatra, a war against a local separatist movement actually preserved some of the rainforest. And a natural disaster – or at least the aid effort that followed it – has helped an endangered species return to that forest.

Jonathan Barker accompanied an orangutan called Kis Kis, who'd been kept as a pet for most of his life, back into to the wild.

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10 minutes

Last on

Wed 26 Oct 2011 03:50 GMT

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