Mmegi Blogs :: The first public political protest
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Friday 15 December 2017, 17:56 pm.
The first public political protest

An article which I would have expected by now to find in Notes and Records would be on the history of protest. It could be fascinating. Apart from the famous Serowe riot of 1952 and perhaps the Ipelegeng movement in Mochudi, I, for one, am almost completely ignorant about the ways people found to express their concerns during the Protectorate years. The details of public protest since 1966, however, have been better reported.
By Sandy Grant Wed 14 Dec 2016, 14:09 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: The first public political protest

It may come as a surprise that any kind of public protest could have dogged the processes of change that came with Independence in 1966. 

In fact, it was the 1965 election and its aftermath, which prompted in Mochudi the country’s first public protest of the new era. That election result gave the new 14-member Kgatleng District Council a mix of eight BDP Councillors and six BPP Councillors. Almost immediately, the new Minister of Local Government announced that he had appointed four specially-elected members to the Council – all four being BDP members, thus converting a majority of just two, to a safer majority of six! Given the controversy that has surrounded this particular constitutional provision during the last 50 years, it is worth noting how protest immediately followed the very first time that it was used. Mind you, in terms of more recent protests, this one was almost miniscule.

Fifty years after the event, I begin to view this protest a little differently. As far as the protest was concerned, we must wonder why only women took part, none, rather obviously, being the better off women who had just routed the BDP in the election? What propelled them to protest when similar moves to appoint non-elected Councillors elsewhere in later years have prompted no public protest of this kind? Where were the BPP’s


male supporters?

But then, it also needs to be noted that this protest took place at the new Community Centre which was itself, remarkable. Given that the Community Centre was a totally new kind of foreign import, the protest and the BDPs annual conference, which was held within a very few months at this same Centre, showed that it had rapidly embedded itself in the life of the Mochudi community.

In the past,  I used to believe that the old Centre had done a very good job. But there was then no context in which such an opinion could be formed. Now there is such a context and in retrospect, and after much later experience, I begin to recognise what an extraordinarily successful project it was.

 How many other Community Centres in subsequent years have been catapulted on to the centre stage in this manner? But then again, those later years have shown that the Community Centre in its pre-Brigade  years was a one off. In this instance, those few abroad who then backed the new project may also not have known that they had helped to create one of the more remarkable projects in southern Africa at that time. Strange that researchers have continued to disregard both the Community Centre and Mochudi at that time, both being of such extraordinary interest.


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