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Drunkards will not miss President Ian Khama!

Keletso Thobega

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Imagine that you are out and about having a good time at your favourite night joint. The golden juices are swirling in your head as you dance in slow motion, when the music is abruptly turned off and the lights are switched on and off to indicate that it is now closing time. Talk about an anti-climax! But this is apparently the life that drinkers and drunkards have become used to since 2008. For the past several weeks, the president has embarked on a national tour to bid farewell to Batswana after an eventful presidency. There is no doubt that our teetotaller president gained notoriety when he effected the alcohol levy and restricted entertainment hours laws. But it has been proven that there is no correlation between substance abuse and tax.

When people want to do something, they will do it. And Batswana sure as hell want to drink – so much that you would be forgiven for thinking that imbibing the golden liquids is a compulsory cultural practice. I even hear that the chief drunkards want to introduce the gabola church here. But this war against alcohol is understandable. Alcohol is a silent killer: not only detrimental to one’s health if consumed in large amounts but also, most social ills in our communities boil down to alcoholism – poverty, murder, divorce, HIV/AIDS, road carnages and the list goes on.

But some people still choose to drink like fish. It speaks volumes about twisted priorities and how some people have a low self-esteem. There is nothing wrong with alcohol if it is consumed in small amounts – two or three glasses is enough, folks! Some Batswana have adopted this self-defeating culture of thinking drinking to get drunk is something to be praised for. Go na le selo gatwe ‘plaka’. Someone can wipe off a six or 12 pack or more, or a bottle of whisky or wine in just one sitting. Kooteng ke bokwete. Motho wa teng o tla bo a iphitsa dino tsa bagolo, kamoso a bo a ipoka gore ne a bo nwa a sa bo tshamikise…WTF, who does that?! Never mind that you put yourself at risk of alcohol poisoning, inflammation, liver cirrhosis etc…

And need I add that alcoholics are the ugliest lot out there what with their phuza faces. At times you have to squint in the person’s direction to figure out if they are laughing or crying. Anyways, I bet our President would be shocked if he were to be thrown into a drinking hole and come across the assortment of characters. In every drinking hole, there is always the madcap – that one person murmuring to themselves. Then there is the person who enjoys holding centre stage in conversations. Then there is that chap who is broke but always gets drunk because he asks for beers from patrons.

Bo‘ntlaletse hoo.’ Then there is the one with Dutch confidence: they would be quiet as a church mouse but after a few drinks, suddenly develops verbal diarrhoea. Then there are the ones who always get involved in fights: alcohol incites the Muhammad Ali within them. And then enter the classic, the emotional crier. This one opens the floodgates after a few drinks and tells all and sundry about their “problems” which could range from money issues, being bewitched or love woes. Being a man who seemingly cares about people and is concerned with their plight, the Prez would probably listen attentively. The drunk would sob: Monngame, mokapelo o a ntshwenya…gape o gana ka dikobo. And with a concerned look he would respond: A e didimale a bo e latlha bojwalwa…ke tla e fa dikobo!

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Ag, shame Kgathi!

Ernest Moloi

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How the mighty have fallen! This past weekend’s Botswana Democratic Party’s Bulela Ditswe primary elections were a demonstration of democracy in action. We need to get accustomed to the painful truth that in life you win some, you lose some!

But somehow, we have built a culture that of anti-change, we equate change with collapse, destruction or maybe it’s because we fear the unknown. Like our good MELS president would say, you move from the known to the unknown, but somehow that statement rings hollow for him considering the length of time he’s been MELS’ president!
Domkrag has been in power for over 50 uninterrupted years. By now it should have built a critical mass, a pool of leaders from which to select in the wards, cells, branches and regions. Democracy is a work in progress, being perfected every time.

Like our late former Vice President the General, Mompati Merafhe would say, “No one has a monopoly of knowledge.” The BDP must take heed of this counsel if it is to survive post Bulela Ditswe. The Old Guard must remember, and take the cue from people like the Mother of the House, Mma Venson-Moitoi, who has served this country diligently but is wise to know when it is time to hand the baton to others in this relay called politics.

In the same vein, the Young Turks, in their brash and radical ways must learn that there’s absolutely nothing new under the sun! They must learn to bide their time and do their bit when their turn comes. They should never think they are reinventing the wheel. Like we’ve said, democracy, like any other political system, is a work in progress.
But the vainglorious and big-headed don’t see this. They are self-centred, conceited and arrogant. They despise the mass of their people. They neglect their constituencies, only visiting them when elections are due and thereafter go on with their lives without a care in the world!

Worse still, their political parties also influence this attitude in that in some instances candidates are selected in Gaborone and dispatched to go and represent their respective native villages. This is not good enough and can never be a solution. We need home-bred leaders, we cannot be importing leaders from Gaborone! My best wishes go to all the runners-up in the past weekend’s primary elections. These men and women showed character. Certainly I feel very sorry for Shaw Kgathi because he was de-campaigned by BaNgwato Kgosi, Ian Khama. I am afraid this is a clear indication that BaNgwato hegemony in some parts of Central District remains entrenched even in the 21st Century.

But, the victor must tread carefully. I think it’s too early to raise Champagne glasses! A fractured BDP may become easy picking for Botswana Congress Party in 2019 in this constituency especially if UDC comes to the party! My sympathies also go to Biggie Butale and Tirelo ‘Scania’ Mukokomani in Tati West who I understand were floored by a Young Turk, the president of the BDP Youth Wing, Simon Mavange! I think both gentlemen can still be useful in other enterprises outside politics!

There was also my good friend Itumeleng Moipisi in Kgalagadi North losing to transport magnate, Talita Monnakgotla. I am not sure why Talita would want to go into politics, all I know is that she’s a savvy businesswoman, but as for Moipisi, I think we have lost a wise man in government. I won’t say anything about Nonofho Molefi. We all know the mastermind behind his demise. He dug the pit that would swallow him up the day he dared to challenge then Vice President, now President Mokgweetsi Masisi for the chairmanship of the ruling party.

When all is said and done, I am very happy with the outcome. I know some are worried that too many loyalists of former president Ian Khama have won and that this could somehow resuscitate his hopes of gaining influence in his father’s party and ultimately government if BDP wins in 2019.As for me, I say the sun has set on Khama’s political career. He must just continue with his charitable and altruistic cause. It fits him perfectly especially that he’s also a Kgosi. He must steer clear of dirty politics and do all within his power to dignify the seat of tribal power!

After all is he not the one that taught us this dictum? BaKgatla will be celebrating KgosiKgolo Kgafela’s 10th Anniversary this September in Moruleng and I suppose in Mochudi. It would be an honour to have Kgosi Khama grace this occasion; after all he is the one that installed Kgafela back in 2008 and draped him in a leopard’s skin!

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Of today’s men sharing beer with women and children

Matshediso Fologang

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The world in which I grew up is no more. This weekend I met with my boys – most of whom are now senior citizens – at the usual Motswere tree. I am not known to imbibe in alcoholic beverages of any kind, but every time I find myself with these boys, each will have brought himself a bottle.

Where we are all very broke, we contribute towards the drinks using the motshelo model. We make contributions to be used to purchase a few litres of traditional beer commonly known as maswe a dinala in Ramotswa, or mukuru as in Serowe. These meetings with the boys have become regular and because I am always there, a lot of people who are not my close friends have always wrongly assumed I also take the stuff.

As we have always done without fail, we were at the Motswere tree again recently. The mood this time was triggered by an activity at Tashy’s Gardens near Boatle. The Speaker of the National Assembly was host to the CPA Africa Region Conference in Gaborone. As part of the activities they were treated for a culture day at the gardens. Our culture has this thing of bringing us together through music and dance. Also in our tradition, there is always a lot of eating. Actually we like our Basotho cousins who believe that “mokete yo o senang nama ga se mokete,” literally meaning that a feast without meat is no feast at all.

Eating at this CPA outing was in typical African fashion. The diverse nature of our society through food, music and dance was on display to the excitement of the guests. Groups from across the length and breadth of this wonderful country were there to display their talents and styles. Truly the CPA Africa Region delegates went back mesmerized. This is however what was in our minds this weekend at Motswere tree. It was just a coincidence that we the boys from that area were part of the traditional groups specifically asked to entertain the guests. In our group we always have to end the day with lots of bojalwa, which was in oversupply on the day.

On the day, quite interestingly, my guys waived a lot of ‘protocol observed’ in the consumption of the holy fawn stuff. In the days of our growing up, young maidens could not sit amongst men to freely drink. We have as a group agreed that we should accommodate modern things. Some young ladies joined us and asked that we fill their bottles with the bojalwa. It was just wonderful that there was no single objection to this. Women and mostly from our neighbours South Africa, wanted to taste the local traditional beer. The stuff was frothing which is always considered good. All and sundry praised the stuff as the best.

As the day ended, we the Motswere boys asked for an extra provision of 60 litres of the bojalwa. We then ferried it to our secluded Motswere place, where we would later spend the evening freely singing our traditional festive music. Despite having allowed women earlier to freely drink during the day at our fort, we resorted to our practice of not sharing bojalwa with children and women. It will take us long to understand gender neutrality at Motswere tree.

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