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Dutch confidence, petty thieves and sprints

Keletso Thobega

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So tell me, dear reader, what would you do if you were to be attacked by a tjatjarag character? Ideally, I would pull a mean punch or pull out my pistol and aim at his scrotum. In reality I would probably scream like a mad person or run away. Call me a coward but we all know that most people pretend to be brave and gallant. But trouble never taps your shoulder and tells you it is coming. Not even a criminal sets an appointment. And that is the contentious part – being caught unaware. When someone has been attacked or robbed, people say all sorts of things: You should have done this or that blah blah. Trust me, when you are in trouble, you don’t have time to think straight or be smart.

Anyone who has been a victim of crime would attest that when you are attacked, there is little time to pull movie moves. It is a ‘fight or flight’ moment, and the latter often takes precedence, at least in my case. I am reminded of a recent incident when I was nearly mugged by five rogues around my neighbourhood. It was shortly after 7pm and I was walking to a nearby establishment to meet an acquaintance. The place is less than five minutes from my place. It was not dark since it is still summer. When I stepped out onto the street, there was not a soul in sight. When I turned the corner, there were two weird-looking guys lurking nearby. They greeted me and I grunted back.

As soon as I passed them I instinctively knew they were up to no good. I am streetwise too, you know. I pretended to not notice that I could tell they were targeting me but I increased my pace. There was not a soul on the street. A split second later, they started following me as I had suspected. A few steps ahead, I bent over, legs apart and pretended to fix my shoe, so that I could see them properly between my legs. Three others had appeared out of nowhere. Moer! My sphincter muscles felt weak, my stomach felt constrained and it felt like my heart was in my throat.

I started praying to God and my ancestors to turn up for me. I was close to arriving but had to cross the road. I contemplated sprinting across the road but over the years I have lost gravity and can’t sprint to save my life. Look, those guys can outrun even Isaac Makwala. I also wouldn’t be able to catch them even if I got help. Kana magotswana a itse go iphitlha. Lo kgona go mmatla, a bataletse hela, a lo lebile. When I looked up, what should appear but a taxi. I flagged it down madly and jumped in as it screeched to a halt.

The driver seemed surprised that I paid to go a stone’s throw away but I explained that I was getting away from some guys who I suspected had targeted me. Interestingly, when I looked back, the guys had slowed down their pace. I was the one that got away! Not everyone is lucky. I have also been robbed on a different occasion. In worse scenarios, some people have also been assaulted or even killed. These scoundrels are cruel and evil. It is hardly surprising that some Batswana have resorted to taking the law into their own hands. Basimanyana ba, ba batla phafana… o mo latswe mokwatla. E re a santse a re “pere pere” a bo o mo tsenya setlhako mo ganong!

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Times a changeling’

Ernest Moloi

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Botswana is gradually reclaiming herself – not necessarily her innocence; we know she has been battered, raped, abused and dumped! Perhaps in her reawakening, she will learn to cherish the hard won values of national cohesion, which for a fleeting moment, were at risk of slipping right through her fingers.

Batswana are better off – they have the best and worst experiences of the peoples of the world to learn from. For example, we know pretty well that the atrocities, carnage, calamity and mayhem of 1994 in Rwanda in which Hutus and Tutsis tore at each other were not a spontaneous mass action.

Neither were the Holocaust in which Jews were slaughtered not the Nakba, which continues to this day with the every day dispossession of the Palestinian Arabs by the Israeli occupation.
In fact we can deduce a clear pattern from all these heinous experiences that they were borne of wilful actions of men and women – despots of the first order who think nothing about nation building but are puffed up with arrogance and self-aggrandisement.

If we profess love for our country, which is often referred to as ‘Patriotism’, we must jealously guard the founding principles bequeathed us by our patriarchs, the same with which they laid the foundations of this republic – and if need be, we must be prepared to die for these principles. True independence is a hard fought battle – independence is not served on a silver platter; it is earned by a people with a fighting spirit, a people ready to become martyrs if only to safeguard posterity and the future of their children!

This nation has for a very long time been deeply divided – the healing process will be gradual, just as the systemic oppression has been. We were divided into pockets of tribes; and through an inherent desire to belong; to have an identity, we clasped on to these tribal fixations to the extent of subverting our new found republicanism with monarchical demagoguery. And every time real politics challenges our moral foundation we find refuge in these fixations in our search for answers. We must however, thank God, for He has never forsaken us – He has always provided a guidepost when it was required, and this He will continue doing until we come unto a common understanding of His purpose for mankind.

In Setswana, there is the maxim; ‘Go kgoberega ga metsi ke go itsheka ga one’ meaning that conflicts are not permanent features but passing phenomena in human existence. There is a time for everything and indeed there is nothing new under the sun! The greatest lesson we can ever learn is that the human race must love one another and live together. It does not matter what skin pigmentation you or I bear – we are all human/ homo sapiens; that is why we are able to breed across the colour divide.

Therefore this imagined barrier that separates one against the other on the basis of skin pigmentation is a farce for the worst ignoramus. Likewise, we are none the wiser if we allow material wealth to define our human relationships. We must transcend these worldly possessions because they cannot satiate the hunger that the soul yearns for companionship and fellowship with a kindred spirit.

Therefore, we can only hope that Mma V will find it in her motherly heart to let bygones be bygones, to bury the hatchet with her nemesis, President Mokgweetsi Masisi and let sleeping dogs lie in the best interest of the country at this critical juncture. She has it within her power to end this fight. It’s really flabbergasting and incomprehensible that delegates can attend a regional congress; make nominations for presidential candidates and later claim they did not know about the election that followed and in which they were active participants.

This is a classical joke. It gets out of hand when tribal elders then call a political meeting outside the sanction of their party to try and undo the electoral process of a political party. In one word, such meeting is tribal and has nothing whatsoever with political affiliation.

In any case when a ward, cell or branch of a party feels aggrieved it does not seek recourse from the village elders, but instead uses the laid down party structures to resolve the differences. What we witnessed this past weekend was the worst form of tribal politics; a last ditch effort by a vanquished faction that risks becoming irrelevant, to seek public sympathy. Mma V; Ian Khama, Moyo Guma and all the other BaNgwato tribesmen must pick up the pieces and throw their weight behind the leader of the BDP and the nation for both their own good and the good of the country at large.

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On public displays of affection and kissing babies

Keletso Thobega

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I was listening to Kim’s show on DumaFM a few weeks ago when she was discussing public displays of affection, commonly referred to as PDA.

I found her views and those of her guest and listeners quite interesting. It is one of those topics that people won’t always agree on. In traditional Botswana, public displays of affection such as kissing and hugging are not common. A handshake or slight touch is as far as it goes. Although things are changing in modern times, Batswana are still not the most affectionate or romantic people, and often refer to certain practices, public affection included as “dilo tsa makgoa.”

I personally don’t mind occasional affection but I am not the ‘touchy huggy’ type. I’m conscious of people getting too close to me because I relish my “space”. I prefer to be affectionate with my loved ones, a few close family and friends. Affection is OK and even research indicates that it is good for one’s mental and psychological well-being. But while a simple hug, pat on the back, slight touch or holding hands is fine; some people take it to different levels and their affection borders on intimacy.

There are people with silly tendencies who seemingly use affection as an opportunity to flirt and entice others sexually. You know those people who are a bit too affectionate, and even if they don’t know someone they’ll be all over them like a rash, motho wa teng a batla go go tlamuka o ipotsa gore o ire jang tota! Motho wa teng o tla bo a susumela, a gagamatsa mmele a nnetse go shenama e ka re o tla re: “A ga re potele ka kwa?”

These random “hugs” are controversial. When the person steps in for a hug, the crotch comes before the body and they hold on tightly, sometimes with their eyes closed and you wonder, is this a hug or foreplay?  Hugging or touching people in a civilised manner is fine if they have no problem with it but there are boundaries. This brings me to the point that we have a social habit of picking up, playing with and kissing babies.

There are ways to amuse or play with a child without kissing them. If the child is not yours… e se wa ko ga lona, please, don’t kiss them. No offence but we don’t know where your lips have been. Children have weaker immune systems so a touch of germs and bacteria can spur illness. I recall this one time I was travelling on a bus and one young lady next to me was seated with her daughter, who was probably two-years old or so. The energetic tot kept the passengers amused with her antics and baby talk. She later got restless and started crying.

Her mother struggled to calm her down. Then this one middle-aged man seated on the opposite seat reached out for the child and started hugging her. He then exclaimed: “Suna papa!” and proceeded to put his dark nicotine-stained mouth to the child’s lips!

He lifted the child and made her wiggle before planting yet another wet kiss on her lips and coddling her. I was horrified! All I could see was a paedophile. The mother was also clearly uncomfortable as she grabbed the child from the man. Look, maybe he meant well… or not.

But his behaviour was the modus operandi of a paedophile – he was too affectionate. Kana these people start off kissing people’s children and then next they start touching them inappropriately ba itekanya a mmitsa mosadi wa gagwe. A re, Suna papa…Heedu, tlerere!

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