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Btv, RB1 desecrating Setswana Language

Ernest Moloi



Radio Botswana and Botswana Television must really get their act together!

Their news reading leaves so much to be desired. The newsreaders have little regard if any at all for Standard Tswana – they desecrate the language with so much impunity. They have developed an unabashed preponderance for their individual ethnic or tribal dialects whenever they read the news on national radio or television! It’s as if Setswana does not have an orthography that has been codified in grammars developed from the constituent dialects of the various groupings in the country!

Worse still, it’s as if this orthography is not contained in Tswana Dictionaries! Such tools and instruments ought to be accessible to the television and radio presenters and newsreaders as well as writers to ensure that at all times the distinction between the Spoken and Written Setswana is clear and unambigous even to a visitor, tourist or non-citizen. We owe it to ourselves to reclaim our language! We cannot talk of cultural rennaissance while simultaneously desecrating the medium that must express that culture! It’s delf-defeating, an exercise in futility, to say the least!
At the rate at which we are going, it seems as if both television and radio hierachies have connived in a covert operation to annihilate the Setswana Language from the face of the earth!
The total disregard for the language has assumed legendary proportions!

Just this week I heard one newsreader saying, “Banna ba le thataro” – referring to the number of men that went on a lion hunting expedition– and I thought to myself, we cannot sit and watch helplessly while our heritage goes up in smoke. I remembered a conversation I recently had with a fellow pilgrim – a Venda native working in South Africa. We were attending a service at Mfolo, Soweto and he told me of how Zulu King, Goodwill Zwelithini had ptevailed over public broadcaster, SABC to expunge the word ‘Bayete’ from one of their plays because it was misrepresenting the Zulu culture!

And in another incident the Zulu royal house once more demanded of the SABC to remove a MoTswana newsreader from reading Zulu news because she was not able to pronpunce certain Zulu words properly, and indeed the SABC acceded to the request! And this got me thinking, why can’t we do the same here in Botswana if we want to preserve the sanctity and prestige of our Setswana language? Once you start working for a national broadcaster you automatically discipline your tongue to the Standard Language used. You defer to its idiomatic expressions, its semantics, syntax, pronounciations and other variables that define the Standard. You can’t pretend not to understand this! We expect our newsreaders at the national radio and television to do better.

Infact, we must ask the management of Btv and RB 1 to correct this anomaly by assigning properly trained reporters to assignments and through proper monitoring. It’s a shame for a national radio station and national television to desecrate the national language! It used to be fun to listen to a certain notorious newsreader vandalising SeTswana with his peculiar pronounciations, but it ain’t funny no more to hear and watch as many others join the bandwagon to mutilate our national language. This abomination has the potential to adversely impact results in both basic and tertiary education if it is left unattended!

Let us stop speaking versions of SeNgwato, SeKgatla, SeNgwaketse, SeKalanga or SeTawana, or SeRolong or whaever dialect on national broadcasters because we associate with it, but speak SeTswana. We all know that we are a multilingual, multicultural society, but even then, SeTswana is a national language spoken throughout the country, and must of necessity, be accorded the respect it deserves. This notwithstanding the challenges and other deepseated arguments by so-called minority languages – I for one, prefer a situation where we respect our heritage! If in future SeTswana develops into a hybrid of all dialects spoken in the country, I have no problem, but for now, I only ask that the broadcasters respect this language!

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Yvonne Mooka



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.

Facebook/Instagram: Yvonne Tshepang Mooka
LinkedIn: Yvonne Mooka
Twitter: @yvonnemooka

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The thrill of being boys in the fields of plenty

Matshediso Fologang



Boys will always be boys. This weekend after a long time I took a walk from my maternal ancestral mekgoro/ditlaagane to the southwest, much along the recently ploughed masimo. In this journey all memories of the early 1960s came to mind.

Then boys were generally a law unto themselves as they could move all over and invade the masimo and take ripe magapu and nche (water melons and sweet reed) without the owner’s consent. Such was known as “go itaya khutu.” It was never considered stealing but helping our boyish greed. This weekend as I traversed these fields with green ripening products I couldn’t help but reminisce about my youth. The things we did then?

We could just raid a field and help ourselves with whatever was ripe. Such acts were punishable by caning of the wrong doers. Still such did not deter the boys from the adventure. Such was the things the boys did with such impunity. Such acts of thuggery were only lessened by some fear of certain fields that were known to be owned by dingaka (traditional doctors) and baloi (witches). We had serious superstitious beliefs that we knew we could become crippled or die if we dared help ourselves with produce from such masimo.

Walking through these masimo, I went deeper into the area and started remembering the past like it happened yesterday. Activities I was part of just came back to mind like these happened yesterday. I recalled one such day we were herding clan cattle and goats. Around midday we realised our morning fill was no more. We were a bit hungry. How could we be hungry in the midst of plenty? Boys being boys, we raided the next nearest tshimo. We helped ourselves with water melons.

We carried our loot into the bushes nearby. We had a feast.  Just as we were ready to leave, one of us came up with a story that the old lady whose field we had raided was a moloi. It was revealed that she would find out who had stolen her melons. Panic and fear gripped us. She was going to get us all dead. She would just doctor our footprints. Such stories we had heard in our daily lives but for us to be potential victims was the worst nightmare then.

Living in a superstitious society then, the things we did then make me just laugh today when I look back. On this adventurous day we drove the cattle and goats up to the nearest hillocks. Something bad happened. As we had almost forgotten the earlier fear, we now raided the trees for indigenous fruits. We climbed up these trees to pick the fruits. One of the boys accidentally fell down and injured his back.

Being products of a superstitious clan the only explanation we could make for this accident was the curse (boloi) of the owner of the melons we had earlier stolen. The next problem we faced was to explain the visible pain our colleague endured. Tradition had it then that anyone who had fallen from a tree would eat his meals from a bed pan until he healed. We all bullied the victim not to show signs of pain.. We were cruel and it was all about being boys. Such was being boys.

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