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Come let us amend the National Anthem

Ernest Moloi

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The words we use everyday end up defining our realities. Although a very small organ in the body, the tongue is the most powerful. It has the ability to build and to destroy. And it does both through the words that spew out of our mouths.

That is why it is important to exercise vigilance and restraint whenever we have to speak. We must learn to listen more and talk less, because being a motor-mouth can lend one in deep trouble. One English writer once acclaimed that there is a loquacity that says nothing and a silence that says more! So, where am I going with this supposed banter? I am this week making an appeal to all and sundry that we form a movement to Amend the National Anthem. It is my considered opinion that if well-constructed, the National Anthem can become a unifying factor. Make no mistake about it, I don’t fault the legendary musical genius of Kgalemang Tumediso Motsetse; I am merely saying my bit. In Setswana idiom we say, ‘Mmua lebe o bua la gagwe gore monalentle a le tswe’. This is the basis and foundational stone upon which our democracy is built.

We say ‘Ntwakgolo ke ya molomo’ or that the most decisive battles are fought through debating and not warring. This is very important for what I propose hereunder. Before you unleash your pointed arrows at me, kindly take a moment to reflect. Think of our Botswana before Independence.Do you remember there was absolutely nothing of the infrastructure developments and the roads; electricity and water networks we boast of today? Men and women tilled the land. In fact agriculture – both arable and livestock farming – was the cornerstone of our economy, the single highest contributor at the time to our gross domestic product.

Men defended their families valiantly; they fought the bitter wars against marauding armies of conquest, losing arm and leg in the process of safeguarding their children, women, livestock and property. And when contemporary political activity, as we know it today, finally reached our arid shores, it was once again the men who led the campaign for self-rule.
It was after his sojourn to Kwame Nkrumah’s pan Africanist Ghana, where he heard that inspirational ‘God bless our homeland, Ghana’ by Philip Gbeho – that Motsete was fired to compose our National Anthem, ‘Fatshe leno la rona”.

But in the course of time, I am afraid the second stanza, which also serves as the refrain, has lost its purpose, especially if interpreted in its literal meaning. It implies that men are sleeping and ought to wake up. Although the English translation says, ‘Awake, awake, O men, awake! And women close beside them stand’, the implied meaning is not lost to an impeccable observer, that men are sleeping and ought to wake up!

The Tswana version is ruthlessly blunt. It says, “Tsogang, tsogang banna,,tsogang! Emang basadi, emang!’ It is from these lyrics that the local women’s liberation movement derived its name – ‘Emang Basadi’. Whilst, there is every good in women fighting for equal rights and justice, which are their inalienable rights – I feel constrained by a national anthem which tends to be gendered.
This nation is made up by parents and children. And if you pay careful attention to those lyrics,, you may find that by removing the letter ‘N’ in banna (men) you have ‘bana’ (Children) and by inserting the letter ‘T’ in basadi (women) you get ‘Batsadi’ (Parents)! And there you have it, Children are implored to awake and stand beside their Parents to work together in service to their land. I am convinced that this is what KTM had in mind, after going through the original version of Ghana’s national anthem before Michael Kwame Gbordzoe’s changes were effected sometime in 1970 following Nkrumah’s coup.

In our case, we don’t need any change of government to make the changes. We only need the will. It is said that where there is a will there is a way. I am convinced that should we go this route we may even carve for ourselves an overarching economic model that recognises males and females – parents and children – as our baseline and not the current warped system in which males (men) are being marginalised in the name of youth and women empowerment!

Similarly, I wish to propose a change of name to our National Football Team from ‘Zebras’ to something more aggressive, strong and enduring – whether animal, bird, snake, tree or landscape! Perhaps we can settle for ‘Tshukudu’ or ‘Ntsu’ or ‘Phika’ or ‘Mowana’ or ‘Tsodilo!’ anything but the Zebras which seem to be easy pickings in a game where laws of the jungle reign supreme.

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Bureaucracy impedes youth empowerment – Tshekedi

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Tshekedi Khama said government’s bureaucracy hinders youth participation in economic development.

Speaking during the Youth Awards on Saturday, Khama explained that the society has adopted the word bureaucracy and they live with it. “This word has contradicting terms with the way the youth think, this confirms the space between the youth and how we deliver. The honour is on us to deliver an enabling environment, we talk so much, we have had discussions in pitsos,”

He pointed out that, financial institutions have difficult regulations that hinder youth to access funding for their respective businesses. “When a youth approaches a financial institution, the first question would be where is your pay slip?, secondly, what security do you have? And they will say it’s bank regulations. We live in the bureaucracies of these regulations and it has become our DNA,” said Khama.

Over the years, government has introduced programmes that promote youth entrepreneurship, which include financing, capacity building, market access and marketing an outreach. Currently, the ministry is reviewing the Youth Development Fund to improve training of beneficiaries and encourage consortia and cooperatives.

Recently, when presenting the budget for the Ministry, Khama highlighted that the youth cohort constitutes the majority of the population and this is supposed to present the country with an opportunity to harness the demographic dividend. “Their energy, educational level and technology skills should be exploited to propel our country forward,” he said.

He also indicated that the youth is faced with socio-economic challenges including unemployment, poverty, substance abuse and HIV/AIDS. “Therefore we must intervene to give them the best possible opportunities to achieve their dreams and help our country realize the ideals of vision 2036.”

Meanwhile, government disburses P120 million yearly as funding to youth enterprises and about 919 businesses have been funded in the last financial year. The youth have raised a lot of challenges in doing business, including high rentals for operating space, low market access owing to tight competition and limited production capacities.

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Have a clear succession plan for peaceful transition

Matshediso Fologang

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How have we as a people treated succession? Though in our society succession has always been determined along patriarchal lineage, traditional leadership succession has not always been smooth.

There are known stories where families broke up in a battle for succession. Immediately in my mind comes the last split of the Ba-ga-Malete in 1892. The succession was based on the bravery and not on the strength being the first born child. Throughout Botswana many merafe have a history of succession that didn’t follow the rigidity of patriarchy.

Batswana as a people believe that talk is far better than war. Ntwakgolo ke ya molomo. We are a people who would spend a whole lot of time openly discussing a matter before a decision could be reached. Discussions on any matter put before a gathering of family, clan and morafe was never finalised without thorough discussion. All present regardless of their economic strength participated fully without hindrance. Decisions thereat were reached through consensus. Traditional leaders would skilfully announce the collective decision arrived at.

The good thing about this method of allowing all to participate – Mafoko a kgotla mantle otlhe and the Mmualebe bua gore monalentle a tswe lagwe – was basically premised on the principle of what our current crop of men and women who have read big books would call “participatory democracy.” Democracy therefore has never been an imported phenomenon amongst Batswana. Democracy has always been in our DNA. Regarding succession therefore it has always been based on the consensus of the majority.

The leader though selected among the royal family, his character also played an important role in determining his suitability. As we embraced western type democracy we have in our different political homes defined our succession plans. As a nation we have defined our processes of succession. In the age and era where, unlike in our tradition, we have written these, we do not therefore rely on memories. Our forebears relied on memories and nothing was ever in black and white.

However, our forebears knew succession if not properly handled could bring strife and instability amongst morafe. We were then not part of a collective of nations and therefore what transpired in our little morafe did not necessarily impact our relations with other merafe that much. If not handled well it could create a loophole for other merafe to wage a war against the morafe .

If any such person who had been overlooked for whatever reason felt strongly about such decision, he would either remain part of the morafe as a junior leader or migrate with his supporters. Peace would prevail. Even those who had held fort for their younger siblings would want to hand over a united morafe to his successor.

In modern society, a predecessor takes pride in the performance of his choice of successor. Travelling through history one envies the succession of Kgosi Ketshwerebothata Ikaneng and Mokgosi III and that of Kgosi Mmusi and Linchwe II. Such were Batswana leaders who worked together for the better interest of the merafe they led. What now and whither peace and love for the downtrodden?

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