Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Full Cupboard of Life: The Power of Books

I'm still enjoying The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith, slowly but surely. For some reason, the book, which I ordered from an amazon marketplace seller, has the faint smell of garlic, as if it had been stored in a cupboard which housed some pungent bulbs. It doesn't really matter, and the book, a hardcover, is in beautiful condition. In The Full Cupboard of Life, Mma Potokane, the strong and clever manager of the "the orphan farm", has some positive thoughts about books:

"At the end of each term, those who had done well would receive a prize for their efforts; an atlas perhaps, or a Setswana Bible, or some other book which would be useful at school. Although she was not a great reader, Mma Potokwane was a firm believer in the power of books. The more books Botswana had, in her view, the better. It would be on books that the future would be based; books and the people who knew how to use them."
~The Full Cupboard of Life, Alexander McCall Smith

Fiction aside, there's a real problem with orphans in Africa, because of diseases, famine, and other problems, which leave children without parents to raise them. Mma Potokwane thinks that if she were to write a book, it would be an instructional manual on how to run an orphan farm, with practical advice about management, fund-raising, and child psychology. She's not sure that she's up to the task of writing a book, but if she did, she'd express "the old Botswana morality" by writing something that would help others.

Interestingly, I had a reader from Gaborone, Botswana--the setting for The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books--visit this blog a few days ago. This person was researching the importance of books!

The Botswana Book Project, established in 1998 by Pam Shelton, is helping to build libraries in beautiful Botswana.


  1. I hope this woman will help orphans and teach others how to run the orphanage - - and also that she will continue dreaming of writing a book or guide some day. Maybe she will find a co-writer who shares her passion for helping orphans. Thanks for sharing this compelling story!

  2. Rudy, Mma Potokwane is a fictitious character in the book The Full Cupboard of Life, but perhaps she'll inspire someone else to publish their knowledge about how to run an orphan farm.

    I've had more visitors from Gaborone, Botswana researching the importance of books within the past few days!

  3. I clicked on the Books for Botswana site. I'll be back to investigate more. I really enjoy Mma Potokwane's character -- especially her loving kindness to the orphans. The world could use more real-life women like Mma Potokwane.

  4. Glad to have visited your site! I haven't read any of the books in this series--yet. I'm always looking for an inspiring read. Thanks for the invitation to visit your site!

  5. Thank you, Christie, and Flashlight girl, for visiting!

    Flashlight girl, the books in this series are excellent--I hope you will read them!


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