The curse of ‘Go tla siama’
Monday, 16 April, 2012In Botswana mediocre is ‘embraced’ to the point that when a level of exceptional success is reached by an individual, team, company or department etc, people are surprised; Botswana isn’t the most excellence driven nation.
There seems to be an inherent culture of ‘passive involvement’ where people just sit back and expect things to just happen. Many Batswana are just docile and passive; do they love mediocrity or fail to motivate and inspire themselves and others? People are always complaining about bad service; at border posts, banks, shops etc and even I have experienced this shady treatment. Service delivery is a cause of concern and reflects our standards; yes, the mediocre we seem to embrace. While there are exceptions, it is a fact that service delivery is an accurate reflection of a country’s standards and national pride. This forces me to wonder about the standards we set ourselves from our personal to our social lives.
Many accept anything, however shoddy only to hide behind the dreadful, ‘Go tla siama’. Whoever came up with the ‘Go tla siama’ line needs to be kicked, because this is a losers’ mantra. Let’s be serious, ‘Go tla siama? Leng?’ We aren’t a proactive people, instead choosing to watch things happen to us instead of changing our personal, social and political situations. This is one reason that people will sit on their buttocks, moaning and complaining but not changing anything. Logic tells me that if something isn’t working it must be changed. If you are fat and it bothers you, you must change your diet, exercise and lose weight. If you drink too much and it’s affecting your health and relationships, you stop drinking. If a relationship doesn’t make you happy, you end it or work on it. If one is receiving bad service, they must complain about it and follow up on the complaint. If a leader or political party is unsatisfactory, they must be removed from power. We see corruption being done, but just keep quiet about it. It boggles me that when someone complains in a restaurant, store or any service delivery point or even raises a concern on a social platform, they are deemed “troublesome”. It doesn’t help that Batswana are usually very defensive and will get offended if anyone points out any wrong doing. Doing that usually opens a can of “green worms”, with risk of being snubbed or even insulted. It doesn’t help that there aren’t concrete structures for people to raise concerns and grievances.
People who challenge stereotypes and do things that can help them grow and improve lives aren’t usually supported as they force others to get out of their comfort zone. Is it stupidity, laziness or simple ignorance? We watch terrible television in the form of Botswana television from people who don’t up their standards while they have the resources, using excuses like ‘we are still growing’. We tolerate shoddy politicians who feed off lying. We accept being ripped off by chain stores. We tolerate shady relationships, accept people cheating and abusing their partners. We accept terrible standards of local music and force ourselves to embrace it “to support” local and not consider quality. We just accept things, even if they are unsatisfactory. There seems to be no culture of excellence, success and high standards as Batswana seem to have low expectations of themselves and others. This rural and undeveloped mentality does nothing for the country’s development, economic growth, image or our personal success.
Efficiency makes progress easier. Think and live big so accept only the best. No one is destined for mediocre existence; we choose to accept that and make it our reality even though we are catalysts of change. If you are “slow” in your personal life, chances are you will be slow in the social and work domain and this is why we have a nation of moaners who don’t take steps to make changes. I often hear people dismissively say, ‘That’s how things are here…’ Is that how they should be? Is Botswana “destined” for mediocre and sub-standard quality and service? We must do the best and demand the best instead of relying on the now tired ‘Go tla siama’; Sometimes one has to ask themselves, ‘What am I doing for myself and my people?’ ‘Is the best I can do or I can improve?’, ‘Do I deserve to lower my standards like this?’ These are the basic questions before implementing change and growth. Things don’t just happen on their own, we must make them happen.