Dear Sir Ketumile Joni Masire
Greetings to you Quett. It’s been a long time since you and I last confabulated. I remember the last time we did was when we were at Alec Campbell’s residence in the Lion Park enclave, where you gave me invaluable insights into the life of this larger than life historian.
I still remember how you made fun of me for being too slow and shallow in my comprehension of the Setswana idioms you threw into our verbal intercourse. How I miss you now that I am thinking of that day! But I find solace in knowing that all is well with you up there with the heavenly angels. And oh, I must share that I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with your ever so jolly brothers, Basimanyana and Bontlogile on the backdrop of your grand relocation. Everything about them reminded me of you, and I must say there is a lot I also learnt about you from them – even the fascination of knowing for the first time that they each use Joni as their middle name – just like you.
Anyway, I just thought you would appreciate an update of what has been happening here since you left us, and I regret to tell you that what I will share is not anything pleasant. Sir, your country has gone to the dogs; and so has your dear party, the BDP. The peace-loving nation you oversaw is crumbling under the weight of fanaticism, tribalism and factionalism. There is no longer any peace and neither is there Democracy in the form that you envisaged.
I am not sure if this is true but on the whole, popular opinion suggests that all this evolving mess in the country is a result of Ian; that son of Sir Seretse Khama whom people feel he has not yet accepted that he is no longer President of Botswana.
In case they never told you, he did move out of State House in March this year when his presidential term elapsed. But it is a general feeling of the citizens that he has in truth not relinquished power in the quiet and smooth manner you and your successor Festus Mogae did when your time to retire had arrived. Remember Setlhomo’s son Mokgweetsi? That younger brother to Tshelang who was Ian’s deputy at the time of your relocation to Heaven? He is the one who in the peaceful tradition of your party and country’s constitution eventually took over as President of Botswana, but I tell you, he has never known peace as Head of State the way you let Mogae be, and also the way Mogae let Ian himself be.
It is different now. Ian does not seem to want to retire quietly as did yourself and Rre Mogae. He still remains as politically active as he was and recently he even said ene he has never resigned as BDP President.
As I speak, there is a court case by some bitter loser in the Bulela Ditswe elections in Lobatse, who is in cahoots with Ian, challenging the legitimacy of Masisi’s position as BDP President.
According to court papers, Ian is a witness intended to attest that indeed Masisi is not the legitimate president of the BDP. You can see how ugly the situation has become, and your people are on the edge.
In fact, in the recent past, Masisi was compelled to suspend from the BDP, some small boy reported to have been bosom buddies with Ian at the army barracks – I am not sure if you ever knew him, gatwe keene Mabaila – because he allegedly acted on instruction from Ian, to incite both BDP and UDC MPs to table a motion of no confidence against Masisi.
This motion was eventually tabled by Opposition Leader Duma although the motion would end up unsuccessful. While it was difficult for many of your people to believe that Ian could have played a part in that motion, they were irked by the bromance between the opposition leader and Ian when further reports revealed the two were meeting regularly and that Ian even sponsored some BNF congress to the tune of P2 million. Ian even went public to declare his admiration for Boko.
This I tell you has divided your party and the opposition guys are revelling in this slow death of the BDP you so painstakingly built. It is amazing how everything seems to point to Ian in this mess – the son of the man with whom you built the party. There are just too many stories that revolve around him seeking to have a say in what Masisi does and Masisi on the other hand wanting to prove he is a man with a mind of his own.
Kana e bile wena Rra Gaone, this feud has even reached bo CNN, Fox, BBC le bo France24. International media has even poured scorn on that ‘shining example of democracy’ label, with one South African media outlet even remarking that Ian and Masisi’s reported tiff is proof that African leaders are all the same – that they are all selfish people who always put themselves first and want to cling on to power. Actually it is so bad that we now have a divided nation where some feel that Ian is being unfairly treated while others want him to let Masisi take charge of the country’s affairs without interference.
Those who back Ian argue that it was unfair for Masisi to sack that DIS guy Isaac, from the spy agency, saying Masisi only did it because Ian is a close ally ofthe spy guy. After firing Isaac as the spy agency boss, Ian then demanded that Isaac be employed back into the civil service as his Private Secretary. Masisi refused, almost saying Ian can go hang! Ian also wanted to fly the aeroplane meant for use by the State President, and again Masisi refused, saying he should use one of the three official vehicles given to him by state.
Seretse’s son has not taken this kindly. Akere he is not used to being told No? So it was a bitter pill for him to swallow that his wishes were disregarded by a man he supported to be the next President after him. It would seem Ian does not like traveling on our roads, he just wants to fly; to the extent that he is reported to have placed an order for his own aeroplane. So Ian’s supporters say Masisi should accede to the demands of the former president, while others ask why it is so important to Ian that the spy guy continues to be on government payroll. They also wonder what it is that’s so important about Isaac to even make Ian this angry when Masisi refuses to hire him.
It is as if removing Isaac from government affairs will cripple Ian, which makes people wonder what it is the two are doing together that should allow them to be working together on the peripheries of government using state resources. So the nation is divided Rra Gaone. You can see le wena gore this does not come any close to the democratic ideals you preached on smooth transition. While you left the presidency and quickly slipped into the background, just as did Festus after you, Ian has held on, and refuses to be forgotten. And I wonder, since you have worked closely with his father, would you say this is what Seretse would have wanted?
Kana this ugly tiff has put the nation on the edge. Akere you know gore gape Ian is a Kgosikgolo? He has now taken to using the bogosi hat when it suits him, to go around the country addressing his subjects on a plethora of issues, some of which are literally political. I mean, not long after he had retired, he went to Shaw Kgathi’s constituency where he literally decampaigned him and instead endorsed some overzealous chap named Kgoboko.
He practically implored the constituents to disregard Shaw whom he labelled many unpleasant things, saying the people should go for the Kgoboko guy who eventually won in a re-run of the party’s BulelaDitswe elections. This has not only upset Shaw, a number of your party’s people were also not impressed, saying Ian wants to rule from the grave by putting into parliament people who will feel indebted to him and therefore would give him everything he wants.
Of course there are those Khama fanatics who enjoyed every moment of Kgathi’s humiliation. I hear the bone of contention, between Ian and Kgathi, is that the latter openly pledged his allegiance to Masisi when Ian had sought his support on matters of security, where Kgathi is minister; and that Shaw supported the move to remove spy man Isaac from his position as Director of DIS.
I hear this stance
Times a changeling’
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.
On public displays of affection and kissing babies
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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