Diana Newton
Maungo, 1977
Pen and gouache
(8.3 x 4.2 inches)
(21 x 10.8 cm)
Personal collection

Maungo sweetly agreed to pose for this quick sketch. She was one of the children who came to visit me when I was staying at the Government Guest House in Gaborone, until the Botswana Housing Corporation found me a private "flat" (as my British colleagues called their apartments). Like her friends, this cheerful, inquisitive little girl was a great language teacher. Forever patient with my mangled grammar, she never ridiculed my mistakes although we did have some misunderstandings. I asked her once what she wanted. Instead of her usual request for a glass of water with ice, she replied "sepe". I had never heard the word before. What could it mean? Perhaps, soap. Many languages borrow foreign words, but my first guess was wrong. I had to search two dictionaries until I understood. Then we shared a good, long laugh. "Sepe" means nothing.