Mmegi Online :: The Sound Of Self-Determination
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Last Updated
Friday 19 October 2018, 15:27 pm.
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The Sound Of Self-Determination

Many Batswana's first encounter with the romantic notion of nationhood is through the rousing measures of Dr Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete's musical piece, Fatshe Leno La Rona.
By Staff Writer Sun 21 Oct 2018, 07:00 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: The Sound Of Self-Determination








The song, usually performed in four part vocal harmony, was adopted as the national anthem of the republic of Botswana.

It is no surprise that Dr Motsete's portrait graces the P20 bank note in honour of his historic artistic achievement.

He is also honoured by one of Botswana's foremost choirs, The Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete (KTM) Choir, a 75 member group of young people aged between 18 and  35 founded on the 20th of January 1993 by Gomolemo Thatayaone Motswaledi.

The choral ensemble took its name from the Fatshe La Rona star.The choir whose major thrust and focus are to promote and perform a Botswana choral idiom and develop a strong choral music culture in Botswana as well as to encourage youth participation in the same, has ably performed and recorded some of Motsete's compositions such as Tsibi Robi, Segaba and ABC.

The choir with its unique repertoire of Motsete's compositions won its conductor, arranger and artistic director, Motswaledi, the Presidential Order of Meritorious Service from then President of the Republic of Botswana then, Sir Ketumile Masire, on September 30, 1997. The accolade made him the youngest recipient of a Presidential Honour in the history of the country.

Founder of Botswana's first political party, the then Bechuanaland People's Party (BPP), Motsamai Mpho related to Mmegi in a previous interview that he, along with Motsete, Klaas Motshidisi, Matila Tlale and Onalenna Mpho, was the first Motswana to sing the national anthem (Fatshe Leno La Rona) while on a return flight to Botswana after attending a pan Africanist conference in Accra, Ghana in 1962.

Mpho said  Motsete's national anthem was in fact influenced by revolutionary songs in Ghana. "Motsete drafted the song in Ghana and when we were coming back to Botswana he made us sing it," said Mpho.Mpho co-founded the BPP with Motshidisi and Phillip Matante. Due to internal strife within the BPP, Mpho left to form the Botswana Independence Party (BIP).

This year the National Museum declared some buildings and building ruins national monuments, among them, Motsete's Tati Training Institute in Nyewele, Mosojane area just east of Tati River.The composer of the anational anthem, was also a passionate educationalist. He founded and led the Tati Training Institute which is now in ruins.

The major historic significance here is that

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the building marked Bechuanaland's first secondary school. It started operating in 1932 offering subjects such as English, Ikalanga, Arithmetic, History, Hygiene, Moral Lessons, Prayers and Scripture as well as Music. At the time, students could go beyond the then regular standard two to standard six where they sat for Junior Certificate examinations in Mafikeng.

In 1941 the school closed down due to lack of funding and the outbreak of World War II. By then the school had produced 322 graduates, some of whom were from as far as Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).The ruins show the determination of a Motswana to mobilise a community into using its own resources to provide for their children.

"As a National Monument the site will provide an opportunity for the presentation of memories of the community on this school and to reminisce on the life of KT Motsete who was also founder of the Botswana Peoples Party, the country's first political party alongside Motsamai Mpho," the museum noted in a report published by Mmegi recently.

Below see the lyrics to the national anthem;

Fatshe Leno La Rona (in English)

Blessed be this noble land,
Gift to us from God's strong hand,
Heritage our fathers left to us,
May it always be at peace

Chorus:
Awake, awake! O men, awake!
And women close behind them stand!
Together we'll work and serve,
This land, this happy land

Work of beauty and of fame,
The name Botswana to us came,
Through our unity and harmony,
We'll remain at peace as one
(KT Motsete)

The words of the anthem reverberate relevance to this day. Interestingly and really noteworthy is the fact that Motsete's life story unfolds in consonance with the spirit and intent of the national anthem.

His work as an educationalist is ample evidence that the man wholeheartedly placed the interest of the country before his own and ensured that his countrymen and women are educated to chart their own destinies and that of the new then impoverished republic.

Motsete's life story and his nationalist philosophy as captured in part in Fatshe Leno La Rona provide a moral compass for Batswana today, for each to find his and her place in ensuring long lasting national peace, progress and prosperity for all.

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