Dear Kgosi Kgama
Dumela Kgosikgolo! The message of your weekend meeting at the Serowe Show Grounds only reached me today and I am sorry to say I will not be able to make it. But I am happy to note that you are now making considerable steps towards taking your place as a Bamangwato Kgosikgolo and in the process doing away with these stressful and draining politics that have seen you lose your dignity and respect among a sizeable number of Batswana. Kana in politics anyone can say anything to anyone, and nobody cares if you have been an army general, president of a Kgosi. Ba go pagama fela jaaka ba batla, and there is usually little you can do about it. This is the reason I have never believed you could make it as a politician, because there, it’s everyman for himself and God for us all. Your right-hand man Guma Moyo recently captured it well when he said politics is a dirty game, and that if you find the kitchen too hot to handle, it is always best to quit. Please Kgosikgolo, as you gather the Bangwato from across the country this week, I pray that you tell them you are quitting not only the BDP but politics in general. No new party for you, no joining of any opposition party. This politics-thing is not your game Kgosikgolo and you are too big a personality to be allowing yourself to be made a holding platform of vile excretion from some who are even as young as would be your grandchildren had you been blessed to have some. Imagine if after handing over the presidential baton to SisiBoy you had receded into the background and avoided being as active as you have been in politics – you would still have your dignity intact, and the number of people according you utter respect would surely be higher than they are now. Over the past year, I have been saddened by the foul terms and expressions that were used to describe you – a thing that would never have happened had you gracefully retired out of active politics soon after leaving the presidency. You have been called all sorts of names and assigned all manner of descriptions – crybaby, dictator, powerhungry, warlord, spoilt Brit, vulture, rebel, selfish and most of all, bitter! That’s what people call you. Ba re oa tapeya – whatever that means. Kana days leading to your retirement as President, everyone held you in high regard, with especially Bangwato happy that you were finally coming back to Serowe to claim back what is rightfully yours. People at the time described you with beautiful words and expressions, almost always likening you to God Himself. It is for that reason everyone wanted to give you a goat or donkey where they couldn’t afford a cow or car. Everyday you received all manner of offerings that should have made you happy to go to your farm and relax in peace. Right now you could be taking from those collectives and giving back to your morafe in what has been understood to be your philanthropic nature. Now with your continued meddling in the politics of the BDP and the opposition, you have relegated yourself to a pitiable crybaby always seeking sympathy from the public, and always appearing like you have not gotten used to having someone else as your President. That’s why people say you are bitter and selfish. They say you are a self-centred man who just cannot accept it when a Head of State does not accede to what sometimes are unreasonable demands from you. You see Kgosikgolo, you should never have tried to be SisiBoy’s puppeteer. You should never have tried to make him do things only your way. You would have enjoyed your peace I tell you. Because you would never have had to live with the humiliation of being rejected on your demands. I know you all too well Kgosikgolo – you have never been one to be told No. You have never been one to allow anyone to tell you how to live your life although wena you had made it a habit to determine how people should live their lives. Now when SisiBoy wanted to remind you that he was The President and that you could not order him around, you took serious offence and you have since then vowed to make his life a living hell. Now you see, you have as a result spent all of your first retirement year expending all your energies on punishing SisiBoy. It has never been about SisiBoy being a bad person as you would want your people to believe nowadays. It is because from the very first time he refused to accede to your demands, you felt offended. You know from the bottom of your heart that SisiBoy is a great guy with good intensions, but your conduct towards him has turned him into the monster many see him to be. He has only had to react to what you were doing to him, and because you do not like to be defied, you continued putting more and more pressure on him, forcing him to fight back more and more. And now he indeed appears to be intolerant, even worse than you have ever been, because all he has ever had to do was to fight back with any form of might he could use. Just as the BDP created the monster in you, so have you aided in turning SisiBoy into the ruthless guy we see him to be today. Kana golo fale what did you say about him when you were going around the country parading him in front of Batswana as your trusted successor? Let me quote you verbatim Kgosikgolo: at one of your gatherings to bid Batswana farewell, this is what you said: “I will never stop or grow tired of thanking Masisi because he has been a rock by my side, someone I have always found extremely dependable. I have never ever, at one minute, regretted having made him my Vice President and you will never ever regret having him as your President.” These were your exact words to Batswana. And if now SisiBoy is the monster you suddenly want us to believe he is, Kgosikgolo, you are responsible in every way for his sudden change. Remember you imposed him on all of us, beginning at your party. Even when some did not think he deserved the presidency, you showed them that your decisions as President could not be challenged – a privilege you do not want to accord SisiBoy today. You harassed him from the very first month of his presidency, forcing him to fight back and eventually look like he is as dictatorial as you were. And it’s sad that when you often label him a dictator, you forget all of these – that you are the one who made him. In the end, you have caused among Batswana a division of loyalties. Because you see, you have thousands of these blind followers who have fanatically revered everything about you from as early as your army days when you could turn yourself into a housefly. These are the people who like you, would not even want to see, hear nor believe that anything bad that you do is actually bad. Even when you have been accused of extrajudicial killings of some citizens in the past, these fanatic followers of yours have defended you and justified what you did. Even the beer and clubbing lovers who were actually hurt by your cut on drinking hours defended your actions because as I intimated, they so love you blindly. When it comes to you, they neither see nor hear any evil. To them o mong wa mmu; mong wa lefatshe; and nothing negative about you is going to be true to them. I tell you even if you could shoot their relative dead, they would still defend your action. And there are many such people who so blindly follow you in Botswana right now, which makes it difficult for SisiBoy to be seen by everyone as the good-intensioned person that he is. And kana this SisiBoy chap has his own followers too – mostly the more sane and objective who tell him to his face when he does things wrong. The likes of Polson. I bet you might have been shocked just before the Kang congress when this Polson Majaga chap rallied people to vote for SisiBoy instead of your chosen candidate MmaV – because the same Majaga had been vocal in criticising SisiBoy whenever the President had derailed. And there are many such followers of SisiBoy around the country too. Which is why the nation is divided – your followers and his. And now here is the problem: his followers are insulting you. Your followers are insulting him. All manner of vile words are used to describe you two. But with him, it is understandable. He is just a commoner who really has no claim to royalty in the manner that you have. Wena you are Royalty and the incessant insults on you do not sit well with me and many others who think like me. Kana you are not a nobody Kgosikgolo. You are royalty and should be accorded that respect and honour. But for as long as you are going to continue meddling in political battles, you are going to lose the respect and dignity you deserve by birthright. They will not stop insuting you. So it is my prayer Kgosikgolo, that as you gather your subjects in Serowe this weekend, it will be to tell them you are finally leaving politics altogether, and that you are shifting to serving them from the Kgotla. That way, I tell you, you will get your dignity back. Everyone else will restore their respect for you. The insults will go. Politics is not for you MongWame. These political games will only drain you mentally. You have had your time in politics – you have gained a lot out of it. Now it is time for you to quit before you end up losing everything. I am actually encouraged by your recent snubbing of the BDP functions – it shows that you no longer want to be in politics. You didn’t attend the congress in Kang; neither did you attend their manifesto launch this past weekend. Why would you if you knew you wouldn’t even campaign for the manifesto? And the fact that you are calling Bangwato, it gives me hope that you are quitting this dirty game of lies and deceit to serve as Kgosikgolo only. While there, please don’t talk politics. I pray for that; I pray for your dignity. Just quit gracefully Mmabatho. Of course I remain curious what it is you now want to say or promise your people that you have failed to do in the ten years you had powers to make things happen. Botswana Television won’t cover the meeting I know, and so I will listen to you on one of the private radio stations. Adios Phuti!
This lockdown is going to plunge many into depression
Dear Mokgweetsi Masisi
Today, Wednesday April 1, 2020, marks exactly two years since you were sworn in as President of this republic, and I wonder how you will be celebrating this milestone while under quarantine. Kana right now we could be coming over there to celebrate with you had you not blundered by attending that State House pool party in Namibia. Your residence would be lit this time, ree ja joy in celebration of your second anniversary since your ascendance to the highest office on the Tswana land. Knowing you, this corona thing would have been shoved aside to allow the world to know gore you are turning two years as President – even after announcing a lockdown on Tuesday. Akere wena you are often thus – you say this, you do the other. Kana gape it would be your chance to show that Namibian President gore le wena you can gather people for a celebration even amidst this state of public emergency. Akere le ene despite global warnings against international travel he decided to host a party and invited you – the result of which you are now in quarantine. I just wonder how Atsile and MmaAtsile are coping with an absent Daddy and Hubby. In fact, we haven’t heard much of our lovely First Lady since you went into quarantine – even at this odd hour when a mother-figure is needed to reassure the nation that all will be alright. O re costile motherlove Morena. Kana if it wasn’t for that reckless trip, we could be seeing her around with you. Jaanong mmanyana gatwe a seka a go atumela shem…
Anyway, it was great to see you looking fit and strong on Tuesday morning BraMEK, and we are glad you are showing no signs of infection. Kana yo mogare e bile ga o tlhaole. It doesn’t care if you are a British Prime Minister, German Chancellor or a Royal Prince. Neither does it care if you are a Head of State, or popular football star or internationally-acclaimed movie star – e ralla anyone Covid-19, rich or poor; black or white and everything in between. So seeing you looking that healthy after that risky Namibia trip has helped reassure us that within the gloom and doom of the socio-economic crisis created by the virus world-wide, there is that silver lining of remembering that it does not just infect unless invited to, and that even when it has infected one, death is not always a given. I realise however that you waited for your anniversary day to pass without impediment before you could institute the start of the lockdown tomorrow. We support your decisiveness nonetheless and promise to abide by the guidelines laid before us to boost our survival chance against this monster of a virus. I see you have even tried to do all in your power to ensure individuals and business entities do not feel the extreme wrath of this Covid-19 and the attendant lockdown. Among the things in your rescue package I see you talk of tax holidays for businesses; access to credit; immediate reconnection of water; decrease in fuel prices; an economic stimulus package; loan guarantees for businesses; restructuring of loans with banks; relaxed payment of insurance premiums for both individuals and companies; provision of a wage subsidy for citizen employees of businesses mostly affected by the virus in order to enable them to retain employees; expedited payments to business entities by government and parastatals … and other interventions intended go fokotsa manokonoko a Covid-19. Yet there are those still in tears Big MEK, who ask gore bone gatwe bone ke ba ga mang. These are the folks who live from hand to mouth, who worry that the lockdown will kill them even faster than the virus itself. Akere Tautona there are people who make an instant daily stipend from clearing the weeds, doing laundry, selling fatcakes, selling cooltime, veggies, sweets and mabudula on the streets as well as those who sell traditional beer? How do they make money for their groceries ne Tautona? What measures do you have in place for them? In your address on Tuesday morning you did not elaborate on that and I pray that by the time this letter reaches you, you would have clarified the matter. Kana these are the people who will not comply because one way or the other, they would have to go out there to hassle. I bet they were wondering who exactly you were talking to when you mentioned the issue of panic buying. You need to urgently come up with a plan for them BraMEK, otherwise they may have to choose between death by hunger and death by corona. Go riana there is one mosadimogolo in Ramotswa who was made to spill away her traditional brew last week, despite having started the fermentation process two days before Trade Minister Peggy Serame decreed that there would be no sale of alcohol. Gatwe mosadimogolo o sale a bedisa ka Tuesday before the ban on sale of alcohol was announced ka Thursday. Her brew got ready for sale on Saturday but your men of the law came hard on her, making her throw it all away. Imagine such instances BraMEK on our oldies who seem to have been left out in your disucusions ahead of the sale ban of bojwala. Others BraMEK say you never even bothered to address their worries against landlords who will still demand rent for their houses despite the tenants not going out to work and make money on the streets. There are also these chaps who depend on our absence from our homes to make a living – the ones who take advantage of our absence to break into our homes to take what they never had to sweat for. Ba re o ba bolaile because homesteads will be occupied throughout the day. They worry that with soldiers and police officers expected to be unleashed on the streets, they may have a difficult time to do any work at night. And in the case these chaps continue to work and flout the lockdown and extreme social distancing rules, what can we expect you to do with them Tautona? Could they straightaway be charged with attempted murder should they test positive for coronavirus? Akere by coming into our homes they would have exposed us to harm? And then there are the ladies of the night BraMEK, although I know you would argue that the law does not recognise them. But hey, they are there and their hassle is real. If you are going to keep their customers under lockdown, how will they survive? Kana e bile these days they are a bit sophisticated – they rent houses from which they operate, where their clients meet them for a roll in the hay. They have to make money for both the rent and their meals. If we don’t aid them they too pose a risk as they might sneak out to go and meet their clients ‘halfway’ and end up infecting each other. As I said earlier, I hope you do something about these forgotten citizens, even if it is it could mean dropping a bag of Tsabana in each household. Note also that suddenly – after you announced the lockdown – some employers out there are beginning to label their traditionally lowly-regarded workers as ‘essential service employees.’ Yet they have nothing to offer them commensurate with the new label. Others are dismissing employees already, claiming the lockdown will kill their business. And with the grounding of public transport vehicles, these companies have no plan how to get their essential service workers to the workplace. Ne kere le bone ba o ba tlhodumele Tautona. And on a more serious note, I worry about our mental health BraMEK. I tell you this lockdown is going to have its toll on the mental health of many. There is too much anxiety right now and there is a general fear of the unknown. With no light visible at the other end of the tunnel, many will be choking in there, worried about the uncertainty of everything including the well-being of relatives, the security around their jobs, the inability to attend funerals of their loved ones… resulting in rising stress levels and possible depression. Some couples will be annoying each other and expect cases of GBV to rise during this period. I hope you will look into such matters to ensure people are given some form of counselling and advice, especially through television and radio. Otherwise we thank you for acting on this lockdown thing sooner than later – although I still feel it should have come earlier. It was always going to be pointless to wait for deaths to go uncontrollably high before we could take the virus seriously. You had no choice but to put us down into extreme social distancing. Mistakes are going to happen along the way, and I hope we will help you go through correcting them amicably together without pointing fingers. And what an opportune time for bonding to happen! Parents will school their children and tertiary students will have enough time to reorganise themselves in preparation of the next time the coursework rooms open. Husbands and wives who all along did not see eye to eye will emerge from this lockdown a lot closer. And during the potentially lonely days, I hope there will be enough and clear communication to keep people at ease. For now it is Goodbye Mr President. Pass my warmest regards to my cousin Neo and her little girl. And sorry about the sleepless nights you and especially Health Minister Lems Kwape have to endure. I really feel for the poor chap; and pass this message to him that we all love him. We see what he is doing and what he is going through. Cheers for now MEK.
This year marks my 10th year as an employee of The Botswana Guardian and The Midweek Sun newspapers, under the CBET Pty Ltd company.
I still remember one afternoon of 2010 when I was in Francistown. I was waiting for my graduation from the University of Botswana where I did Bachelor of Media Studies. I had just started a freelancing job with Mmegi in the Ghetto when one of the Guardian/Sun managers Tlotlo Mbazo called me offering a job opportunity. See, during our time, UB newspaper- then known as The UB Horizon was hyped and big.
We distributed it across newsrooms in the country. In addition to this, one of my former Journalism lecturers Julia Cass had advised us to always cut our articles and keep portfolios and later send them across media houses for opportunities. So when MmaMbazo called me about an opportunity that had come up, I knew she had seen my work that I had submitted a few months before closing at UB.
Coming into the Guardian/Sun newsroom the first days was exciting yet challenging at the same time. I found many male colleagues that were also very loud and pushy. Intimidating. At times, annoying. Some were old, reminding me of the set up in international newsrooms where journalists are older. The 24 year-old me then was timid and emotional…but zealous and curious. I was impressed however by the female journos that oozed energy and passion.
The truth about the media industry is that there was a time when it was male-dominated. Women were thrown into light beats and strong ones were tackled by males. Though it was the case with Guardian/Sun then, seeing the likes of Phemelo Ramaribeng nee Ramasu pursue News was encouraging. Her human interest stories to a larger extent contributed to my love for Human Rights issues.
I worked under the leadership of great men who all shaped my career in special ways. The likes of peculiar Mpho Dibeela who has since gone into newspaper ownership; Mike Mothibi, the sophisticated writer with a passion for farming; courageous Abraham Motsokono who called a spade a spade and not a big spoon; fatherly Ernest Moloi who helped build resilience in me; Mbazo, woman of the board who leads tenderly but with a stern posture; Justice Kavahematui with a very calm demeanor; Joe Brown-Tlhaselo the perfectionist who pays attention to every detail in the paper – in fact it was Joe-Brown who welcomed me the first day by offering me a chair and lunch! And then there is Boitshepo Balozwi, my editor-turned-friend who every now and then blesses me with pearls of wisdom when ‘the devil wants to lie,’ as well as Dikarabo Ramadubu, our moving encyclopaedia.
Still under this list falls Beatrice Mbulawa, the magnificent General Manager who came with a unique style of managing a media house as a finance-steel lady. Joel Konopo and Ntibinyane Ntibinyane have always been deep hence their now establishment of the bullish INK Centre for Investigative Journalism. In 2012, they took me to Amabunghane Centre for Investigative Journalism in South Africa where my mindset changed altogether. That was an investment that I will always use in my Journalism. Douglas Tsiako also deserves recognition for always believing in me. Special mention of Ditiro Motlhabane for always putting me on my toes about my stories as my News Editor.
My colleagues across every department in The Guardian/Sun throughout the decade, both new and old, have been fascinating. The team is a rare, winning breed. Group dynamics is as real as it gets but I can say unfazed, that I learn a lot from every single individual in our newsroom. The energy here is right. It’s amazing.
So much can be said about my decade in our newsroom. Perhaps, my number one lesson is that of servitude. Journalists are servants. They should serve. At church we say EBENEZER – Thus far the Lord has brought me. Thank you.
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