Power has always been associated with leadership. In the traditional Setswana setup, royalty wielded a lot of power within the society.
It is quite interesting that despite the powerful nature of master-servant relationship that defined interactions between the magosi and their people, there was never a time when respect for leadership was forcefully demanded. The general understanding was that “kgosi ke kgosi ka batho” meaning that kgosi derives his role from the will of the people he led. This was despite the fact that succession in bogosi was hereditary.
Batswana in their nature were respecting and always worked together for the common good of the society. The general understanding amongst Batswana was that whatever was done for the common good of the community had to be done diligently and jointly. It was expected of every citizen to be part of any work/duty/activity done for either the kgosi or morafe. It was always done through the spirit of volunteerism. If any payment was ever made it could have been in the form of provision for feeding those willingly engaged in such duty.
There was never a time a kgosi would mete out punishment to those who were truant. Society had in-built mechanisms of control. These were times when traditional mephato were used to promote discipline and unity among age mates, who would bring into line their peers who were seen to be wayward. As each mophato had a leader before the matter could be taken to bogosi, such regimental leader had the obligation to bring order amongst his mophato.
This system was beneficial in that all public works were run through this system. Each man and woman knew he/she had to participate in the tribal duties and activities. The kgosi or kgosana rarely imposed orders. This was generally an oiled machine, which carried out the development works within the community. It should however never be assumed that there were no dissidents. Such deviant behavior was minimized by the mophato system, which we do not see in this modernized and money economy that we live in.
Unfortunately in the modern Botswana we have moved on. We no longer live a communal life like our forefathers. We have a well established civil service that is governed by modern rule, laws of employment and conditions of service. These instruments define rules of engagement. We are a people with workers’ rights which are also human rights. Unlike in our traditional setup where labour was provided for no reward, our civil servants are paid for the service they provide. I have no problem with these relations. It is a worldwide practice.
However in this modern society I have heard and experienced the wrath of bad service. I wonder if the public service as it is lately is conscious of the society’s expectations. On a number of occasions those that are supposed to be served are not receiving such. As we prepare for the festive or any holiday, these servants become more of masters than servants. Lately I have heard that even the management cadre of government departments has adopted an attitude whereby they wouldn’t care fokol.
The mood in government offices and other public enterprises during this festive period is that of impatience on customers. Yet conditions of service do not change with seasons. The public expects the same kind of service as has been offered throughout the year. We should have love for our work so that we serve people with love, no matter what time of the year!
Bureaucracy impedes youth empowerment – Tshekedi
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.
Have a clear succession plan for peaceful transition
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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