Mmegi Online :: Cde van Rensburg: An original thinker, activist
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Cde van Rensburg: An original thinker, activist

Patrick Van Rensburg grasped the revolutionary essence of this Marxist dictum and embraced it as his own. He was not only an original thinker, but also an activist whose life impacted on thousands of young people, the communities in which he lived in, worked at and on the nation of Botswana.
By Otsweletse Moupo Fri 23 Jun 2017, 06:00 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Cde van Rensburg: An original thinker, activist








He conceived an alternative pedagogy, which sought to intergrade learning and work in such a way that schools would serve not just as institutions for the propagation and transmission of abstract ideas and knowledge, but as centres for socially productive work and community participation and development.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the brigades which he had founded equipped hundreds of young Batswana with productive skills, thereby greatly contributing to the development of this country The Serowe brigade in particular, also became a hub of some South African Communist Party (SACP) activists who had fled from oppression in the then apartheid South Africa. They were also joined by some left intellectuals from Europe who were instructors at the brigade.  A number of Botswana National Front (BNF) cadres also worked at the brigade in that period.

Thus the Serowe brigade became a significant centre of passionate political debate and socialist study circles.  It was in that atmosphere that BNF activists, Mareledi Giddie and James Olesitse, who were working at the Serowe brigade at the time, also established their own party’s study group.  The writer of these lines acquired the initial alphabet of his political education from that study group, during his short stint as an employee of Standard Chartered Bank, Serowe branch in the first half of 1979.

In the early 1980s, Comrade van Rensburg revived Mmegi newspaper, which had been published intermittently in the early 1970s under his editorship.  Mmegi became an accomplished organ

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of alternative journalism, which consistently eschewed that base sensationalism and superficial, tendentious reportage, which characterised some of the newspapers in this country.

During those days Mmegi endeavoured, with considerable success, to inform, enlighten, provoke and stimulate critical debate and contestation of ideas within our society.

 In the later half of the 1990s, he ventured into the terrain of active party politics, openly identifying himself with the BNF.  He was elected secretary for public education in the BNF Central Committee at the Ledumang Congress in July 1977.  In that capacity, he assisted the party in formulating a well thought-out education policy.  However, the hustle and bustle of party political activism was not really his forte.  He preferred working behind the scenes and contributing to the internal discussion within the BNF Central Committee. 

Within the broader framework of his life-work, this latter of his activity was destined to be a mere evanescent episode.It was not that much impactful, partly on account of the fact that he ventured into it (active party politics) much later in his life, and partly on account of the fact that it coincided with the tumultuous factional strife and convulsions, which afflicted BNF during that period, culminating in a major split.

After the split, he was briefly active in the Botswana Congress Party, and then later withdrew from political activism.  His departure has occasioned grave loss not only to his immediate family, but also to the entire nation of Botswana.

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