My good friend Biggie Butale has upped the ante in the hazy maze of traditional leadership and politics.
I hear that he is now addressing the Patron of his party – Botswana Patriotic Front – Lt. Gen. Dr. Ian Khama Seretse Khama, as “His Majesty.” Nothing wrong with this if it’s meant as mere reverence for the traditional position that Khama holds as Chief of Bangwato. However, I sense a completely different motive! Biggie is appealing to the gullibility and sensibility of the hoi polloi; he knows that village folks revere traiditional leadership and trust it with their lives. It is much easier to sell Khama as a ‘King’ or ‘Emperor’ if you will than to introduce him as ‘Patron’ of BPF. Most ordinary folk would be confused – it’s best to appeal to their tribal sentiments.
In many parts of Central District Khama is loved as Kgosi, former Army Commander; former President and son of Foundiing President. These titles are etched in the minds of many. But as for Patron of a new party – a party that broke away from his father’s Botswan Democratic Party, that is unheard of; it is sacrilege! But being a smart man, Biggie is quite aware of all these hence his uncanny approach, if some would consider it so.
He must manage the delicate balance of pleasing the masses of the people and maintaining the enigmatic character of his Master! I tell you this requires special, in fact rare skills! But somehow, Biggie’s approach is also fitting like a glove to the hand, in the subtle narrative, that has long held Ian Khama as Paramount Chief of Botswana. Some people have told me that they always suspected that our founding president (MHSRIP) could’ve unknowingly encouraged this narrative when he installed Ian Khama as Kgosi of Bangwato on 8th May 1979 in Serowe, the capital of GammaNgwato! Unlike other Tswana magosi, Khama was draped with a lion’s skin and not the leopard skin as is customary. Magosi in Botswana are revered as ‘Maapara Nkwe’ but in many respects, Ian’s coronation was a departure from this norm.
Further, he was installed Kgosi whist still serving in the army and so on that day, he wore his military uniform! Although in his speech Sir Seretse Khama counselled his son with so much wisdom, telling him without mincing any words that in Botswana there is NO Paramount Chief; that he is Kgosi of BaNgwato only – it will appear that time has completely washed away that counsel. Otherwise how do you explain Ian Khama’s insistence to hold on to both traditional and political leadership roles? As President he derived so much pleasure in reminding some of his subjects in his Cabinet that he was their Chief.
And to this day, although immersed in the murky ‘dirty’ partisan politics he continues to remind everyone that cares to listen that he is Kgosikgolo! And this nomenclature is also problematic, as his father had indicated back then, because it implies supremacy over other tribes. A kgosikgolo is in the true sense of the word, an emperor, one who lords over the whole nation. But problem with Botswana is that we are not homogenous but groups of diverse cultures and languages! Each and every tribe as Sir Seretse Khama counselled, has its own Kgosi! That is why to this day we have Ntlo Ya DiKgosi as an advisory body to the Legislature.
But of-course we understand that Magosi have cried foul that politicians have usurped their powers, but that is a debate for another day – and anyway as a collective in that august house, Magosi have the perfect opportunity to bargain for better conditions of service just like all other public servants! I say this because Kgosi is a Kgosi because of the people he leads (Kgosi ke kgosi ka batho)!
So, we must understand BPF’s interim president Biggie’s newfound title for Kgosi Khama in this light. This thinking was further reinforced in my mind on that day in 2008 when Khama installed Kgafela II as Kgosi of BaKgatla. In his speech I remember him telling Kgafela that as ‘Kgosi of Bangwato ke go roma mo morafeng yo’ – I was stunned that one Kgosi was sending another into another’s tribe.
The question that remained unanswered in my mind then was, to do whose bidding? But there was a twist at that ceremony which was characterised by pomp and pageantry. Kgafela sat regally on his throne as Khama draped him with the leopard’s skin, yet a closer observation would have revealed that he used the lion’s skin as his footstool! When we remember that it was during Khama’s presidency that Kgafela was ‘derecognised’, imprisoned and ultimately fled into exile just because he had dared challenge the Constitutuion of the country – we can now see clearly why Khama wants to remain both Kgosi and politician.
But we don’t know what will become of President Masisi’s overtures – as he has promised to do everything in his means to return Kgafela to Botswana. As for me, I have my doubts that it is meant in good faith, but that it is a ploy to use BaKgatla Kgosi to lure votes for his younger brother, Mmusi, who is a parliamentary candidate for BDP! Whatever happens surely this year promises to be the best, as Khama has told us!
Of Bundle of Joy and Sisiboy’s broken bromance
I studied European history in secondary school and Hitler was my favourite subject. I especially enjoyed learning about the Policy of Appeasement.
I recall that one of the textbooks we used had a cartoon that depicted Stalin and Hitler seemingly chatting to each other in a friendly embrace. However, both of them were holding shotguns at the back. This cartoon summed up my views on politics and life in general – never let your guard down because there are no permanent friends in life and politics. Those who have read influential books such as Art of War and The 48 Laws of Power would know that most scholars of philosophy attest that as much as it is good to live at peace with your fellow human beings it is also equally good to be “aware” because it is better to be safe than sorry. Let’s just say that dynamics of human relations can be complex.
This thought came to mind when a picture of our current and former Presidents looking cosy recently surfaced on social media and set tongues wagging. It is a beautiful picture of happy people but it is also loaded when you consider that the two apparently don’t get along. Some people claimed that they are fooling us and actually best friends. So, should they size each other up, hump chests and avoid greeting and touching each other prove that they don’t see eye to eye? And then what?
We all have people we have had fall-outs with or don’t see eye to eye with. But as an adult, you learn to “contain” issues. Ee, botshelo ga bo ratanelwe. Go na le batho ba ba sa re emang sentle. Mme ga o ka ke wa raya motho o re ‘ngaka ya me ya re wa ntowa’ kana ‘ke a itse gore o ne o reng, o dira eng’ jalo jalo. O dididmala fela. Le fa motho a kile a go direla bosula, o mo golola mo moweng, fa o mmona o a ikoba, ga o simolole o sinalla e ka re o hupile santlhoko!
Disagreeing with someone, not sharing their ideology or having a fall-out does not mean that you hate them and you should take the matter publicly even on platforms where it is not necessary to parade your “issues.”
Mind you, despite the said betrayal and deception that prevailed between the two, once upon a time they were in a strong bromance. They worked and spent a lot of time together. As to who is the right or wrong between is a topic you can discuss with your friends over beers or wine.
Despite the highly documented hostility between the two, it would be diabolic and psychotic to expect them to always be at each other’s throats at every turn to the extent of snubbing each other publicly.
Pardon my analogy, but it is like expecting ex-lovers to hate each other because they are not together anymore or former friends to not speak to each because the relationship ended. Relationships start and deteriorate daily; it is no train smash – it is part of life. But civilised people know that you don’t suddenly refuse to speak to the next person; sometimes you just pretend, o ichinamisanyana hela.
At the end of the day you have history with that person and were at some point close to them. Tota motho fa o kile wa tshela le ene ga gona gore o ka mo itebatsa kana wa mo itatola, le fa lo sa tlhole le utlwana. Sisiboy and Ruta’s bundle of joy probably missed each other. They are human after all!
We are all Batswana and we need order
This weekend we met after a long time at the legendary Motswere tree. Nothing serious was to be discussed. We had our usual traditionally brewed beer to share.
The elderly were there to share stories of the yesteryears. The discussion centred mainly on the tradition and the cultural practices that have stood the test of time. We just wondered why in modern times despite known traditional order and protocols some people had developed tendencies to defy such. What has happened to our respect for each other and in particular the respect for lefoko la kgosi?
In the past, lefoko la kgosi was held in utmost respect and those who tended to disrespect it were admonished and counselled by their age mates (mophato). If anybody ever went wayward it was incumbent upon his mophato to reign him or her in. We don’t see this nowadays. Instead we have become so westernised that we have become individualistic to care about the communal order we grew up under. The village no longer has a role to play in the bringing up of our children.
I sat and listen to those older than me detail out the processes that were followed in traditional governance. Governance and leadership was patriarchal and hereditary. The succession processes were in accordance with seniority of males in the royal house. This was the order throughout the traditional kingdoms. We are told that in the colonial times the order was tempered with. The colonial administrators came up with the concept of divide and rule. This in most cases allowed the colonial administrators to bring in people into leadership because they could be manipulated. Such people were always not the legitimate leaders of any morahe.
The traditional order was thus totally distorted. In most cases the colonial appointee would also further distort the succession order of bogosi in the morahe he had been imposed on. Our humble discussion at the Motswere tree focused on the revival of traditional leadership amongst Ba-ga-Malete of Ramotswa. We noted with much excitement that since this morafe defied patriarchal order and brought in a woman kgosi, the other merafe have embraced this.
As part of this transformation we have witnessed an increase in revival of our traditional dikgoro and makgotlana. With the multiplicity of chores that a kgosi engages in, and with the behavioural and moral deterioration amidst our societies, the main kgotla can no longer be expected to mediate and arbitrate family disputes alone. Hence the government introduced magosana a go letlanya. This was to allow the centre to be involved in other development issues than semi judicial matters.
However this has also become detrimental to our smooth traditional leadership succession. Some people have come out to claim what is traditionally not their role. We at the Motswere tree were all aware that there were some people who want to defy the new order. Such people want to claim that those magosana selected are not legitimate. Sadly one man is running helter skelter amongst dikgotlana to cry injustice to these very magosana.
It would appear even those we should be looking to for proper guidance are distorting traditionally patented protocols while in the process contradicting the Bogosi Act. And as they do this, they continue to fuel divisions among our people. It is however important to note that we are still Batswana and we need order.
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