University of Botswana History Department

About this web-site

History Home Page  |  Site index

(Note: although there have been some updates, this is an old page, and readers will find some references are out-of-date, as in the concern that a file of a whole megabyte might be a bit large for some users.)


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The History web-site

The idea of a web-site for the department was originally proposed by Chipasha Luchembe, now at the University of California at Los Angeles. The first version was launched in May 1999. Successive updates with corrections and new material have been added since. The History Department's present web-site editor is Dr Bruce Bennett, email bennett@mopipi... [Click here for full email address].

Comments, suggestions and other input will be gratefully received.

Originally this site was located at <>. A site at <> was initially established as a mirror, but became the only site as the original <> site ceased to exist for technical reasons. The "ubh" part stands for "University of Botswana History". In August 2002, the site moved to this location at For the present the continues as a mirror.

The original home page, when this site was on the server, was a page with the file name hist.htm. However, on the Tripod server, (and also on the server for the new site) the default page (i.e. the page you get if you just type in the basic site address "") is always "index.html". This made the old hist.htm page somewhat redundant, and the page index.html is now the home page. A redirection page has been left at the hist.htm URL - we removed it, briefly, but this led to visitors getting a message from the tripod server which suggested that the whole site (not just the page) had disappeared. To avoid confusion we will therefore leave the redirection page, at least for the time being.

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How to navigate this site

General principles

Most of us will have had the experience of wandering around a web-site looking for information which may or not be there. For example, on a University web-site, we might want to find a list of staff email addresses. Options offered might include "Academic", "Academic programs", "About the university", etc., and so we try one after the other. This can take some time when the connection is slow.

In the History web-site, we have tried to make things as easy as possible for the user by providing a unified Site Index. This lists every page in the site, with all the headings in that page. The Site Index page is compiled automatically by the HTI indexing program. HTI is free software and can be downloaded from this site (see download page).

Using the Site Index

The key to navigating this site is the "Site Index" page, <>. This index page lists every page in the History web-site, with brief descriptions. It is arranged by folder. We suggest that, if you use this site regularly, you consider bookmarking the Site Index rather than (or as well as) the Home Page.

(This site index page has the file-name h-index.htm, meaning "history-index". Unfortuntely, "h-index" is now used for a citation metric. According to what we can find it was invented in 2005 by a scholar named Hirsch, hence the "H". Thus our h-index, which has absolutely nothing to do with the citation number, was here first!)

There are also some subsidiary index pages, such as the Botswana History Pages Index, the Boer War Pages index, or the Books Index page.

Search engine

The site includes a search engine service (see below). This uses the search engine. The search boxes on the mirror site access the same search index and thus return results in terms of the site.

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Since many of our expected visitors will be using older browsers and/or slow links, an attempt is being made to make the site accessible to such users. All pages should be usable for a visitor with a browser at HTML 3.2 level, although formatting may not be ideal.

We would be grateful for comments from users who have experienced problems or think the pages could be made more accessible.

We are also attempting to keep to accessibility standards, and initially did so by using the "Bobby" validator of CAST (the Center for Applied Special Technology). Unfortunately this is no longer free and we cannot afford Bobby. However we are still trying to keep to the same accessibility standards. The Internet provides opportunities for disabled people to access information, using special technology such as web-browsers which read content aloud for visually-impaired users. Such technology, however, relies on web-pages keeping to certain standards. For example, all visual images should have a text alternative so that someone who cannot see the picture still has access to the information it contains. This is done by including an ALT attribute to each <IMG> element.

Long-description pages will be provided where it seems appropriate. These will normally be in the same directory as the relevant images. It is expected that these pages will normally be accessed through the "Description" or <IMG LONGDESC= ...> links in the pages where the image is located.

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Any-browser: link to Any-Browser campaign In accordance with our aim of making our site as accessible as possible to all users, we aim to write these pages in valid HTML 4.01 (Transitional) according to the W3C recommendation. (Until September 2000 we were using HTML 4.0 as the standard, not that this is a big difference.) All pages should however render adequately in HTML 3.2. . No pages use frames. Pages are tested primarily in Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer 6, but we try to test at least a sample in other browsers, currently JanSoft Act and OffByOne.

Sample only of Valid HTML 4.0 icon The "Valid HTML 4.0" and "Valid HTML 4.01" icons indicate that a page has been approved as valid HTML 4.0 (or HTML 4.01) by the W3C's on-line HTML validator. (Note that the icon appearing to the left of this passage has been marked "sample" to indicate that it is an illustration and does not actually claim validity for this page.)

There is a problem in the case of the mirror site, however. As this is on a free web space provider, all pages carry banner advertisements. The code for these advertisements is added by the tripod server, and in 2001 we found that in some cases this introduced incorrect HTML.

Consequently, although a page may be valid HTML on the site, it may become invalid when on the tripod site. Where a "Valid HTML" or "Valid CSS" icon is displayed, this only applies to the page on The image file for the "Valid HTML" icon has been removed from the site, so that the icon should not appear there.

You can use the form below to submit any web-page to the W3C validator: just type in the URL (address). (Note that the "http://" must be included.)

The W3C on-line HTML validator
Enter the address (URI) of a document you would like to validate:
Show source input Show an outline of this document
Show parse tree exclude attributes from the parse tree

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Style sheets

Sample only of Valid CSS icon Some formatting has been specified in style sheets (mainly CSS 1, some CSS 2), but in the interests of accessibility all formatting essential to reading the page is in HTML. The "Valid CSS" icon (see sample at left) indicates that a page has been passed by the W3C's on-line CSS validator.

The W3C on-line CSS validator
Enter the address (URI) of a document you would like to validate:
Warnings :
Profile :

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Our intention is that our URLs should be all lower-case, though a few errors have crept in in the past. Directory names can be found in the Site Index page. In general, HTML file names are unique, with the following exceptions:

HTML files normally have the extension .htm, with the exception of index.html, the directory default page (see above). Initially filenames for HTML files were limited to 8 characters, but since about 2004 we have ceased to make this a firm rule.

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GIF format is still the most common for small graphics such as "under construction" signs etc., but PNG format has a number of advantages - one of which is that it is an open-source standard. The GIF format uses a compression algorithm which is under patent, although this was apparently not realized at first. The owner of the compression algorithm patent is attempting to claim royalties for the use of GIF. PNG files are usually significantly smaller (i.e., faster loading) than GIFs, and the quality can be better. The main drawback to PNG is that older browsers cannot read it - you need IE or Netscape version 4 at least. (And even the newer browsers can often not yet render transparency properly for PNG.) Thus the principles of "open source" and "any browser" are a little hard to combine here. On the other hand, GIFs are mainly used for images of little or no real importance - decorations rather than serious pictures, which are normally JPEG - so this problem may not be considered important. This site uses PNG images rather than GIF, except for some GIFs from other sites which are used by permission, such as the "valid HTML 4" icon.

In most cases PNG or GIF images are used for decoration rather than information - e.g. "Under construction" banners, with the ALT text "under construction". However there are some information images where we have used PNG rather than JPEG as a lossless compression was desirable (mainly screen shots). If any visitors have problems with these, please get in touch with the editor at bennett@mopipi... [Click here for full email address]. (We can if necessary provide JPEG or other alternatives.)

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Cookies and privacy

The main site does not use cookies.

The site uses cookies - these are part of the free web space service and have to do with what advertisements are displayed; we have no control over them.

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Composition of the HTML

Most of the HTML for this site has been coded by hand in text editors and with HTML-Tidy ("HTML-Kit" version, which is available free from and commended by the W3C).

In some cases large documents have been converted from other formats (such as word-processed documents) automatically, mainly using StarOffice or its successor OpenOffice.

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General structure

This site is essentially an information resource. In order to assist users, we have aimed at simple and transparent structure. The directory structure is set out in the Site Index. At present no pages use frames.

Page size

The advice is often given that web-pages should be kept small, and that it is better to have a series of small pages, with links, rather than one long page through which the reader scrolls. While this may be good practice where connections are fast, it is not at all suitable for pages which are to be read over slow connections. If there are six small linked pages, the reader must click "Next" five times and wait for the response each time. When connections are slow this introduces a large and unnecessary delay.

Consequently, we have generally tried to treat the web-page as a logical unit, rather than a unit of size. That is to say, where we expect a reader to wish to read a document, we have preferred to keep it together so that the reader will scroll rather than access a new page as he or she continues reading. However, in the case of the electronic texts of Missionary Travels and Native Life in South Africa, the whole-book files are too large for most readers to open without delays and problems, and so they have been split into chapter-by-chapter files.

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The date given as "Last updated" at the end of each page refers to the date of updating the HTML code. The actual date of the document for other purposes is likely to be rather earlier, and may be given in the text of the document.

Sometimes, when there is a slow or poor connection (a common problem in Africa), a page may cease loading - but this may not be obvious to the reader, who thinks he or she has reached the end. This proved a particular problem with long pages such as the bibliographies. To help deal with this problem, we have recently taken to marking the end of pages with obvious markers, usually "[PAGE ENDS]" in the last line.

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See the software page for details on software mentioned, together with the inevitable disclaimer notice.

The webmaster and his supervisor:

Webmaster and supervisor

The Botswana History website is maintained and edited by Dr B. S. Bennett, email bennett@mopipi... [Click here for full email address], who is also the webmaster for the site as a whole.

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Copyright © 1999 University of Botswana History Department
Last updated 23 April 2020. [PAGE ENDS]