Your Lordships, Friends, Comrades and Compatriots, good evening and welcome to this great farewell party to one of the most eminent sons of the soil!
First things first. I must introduce myself. I dare not presume that everybody knows me.
I’ve heard conflicting stories about my origins in the past: Who’s Mike Dingake precisely? a) South African according to some sources, born in Diepkloof, SOWETO.
Preposterous if you happen to know I am older than SOWETO and Diepkloof; it was a story peddled by the Boers for their own interest; b) in Botswana after a long ‘sojourn overseas,’ many came to know I was a native of Bobonong village; some mistakenly in the process nominated me Key Dingake’s father; I’m Key’s brother not his father; c) a motley of Botswana residents confer false titles on me: Professor, Doctor and Mdala.
I am none of those, neither Professor , Doctor, nor Mdala. In three weeks time I should be turning 90 years young! And I plan to form a new party to be launched in three weeks on my birthday!
We should be a big family of 13 with me at the head and Key wagging the tail, had five not succumbed to predatory nature in the course of time.
Dad fondly addressed me by the names: Tlou and Kgosi. Tlou is clan’s totem . Addressing a clansman/woman as Tlou is prestigious and dignifies the person so addressed; Kgosi was an unflattering title conferred on me circumstantially.
Initially due to the fact that I was first‐born. Later conferred on me, because of interrogation to understand the law and custom, in the village pecking order: Why was someone designated kgosi, not dad? The answer that a kgosi was born, triggered another salvo: Well, why were you not born a kgosi? Thinking I was obsessed with bogosi status, dad began to address me as ‘Kgosi, besides Tlou.’
Dad thought, the world of me; he bent over backwards to my whims. Good education was in both our minds. Sending me to SA boarding school , at Standard V, was akin to brat‐spoiling; peasant farmer that he was, he wanted me to attend Fort Cox, Agriculture school to later walk confidently in his footsteps; I said, no! What about teaching? I demurred. What did I want then?
To study medicine and become a doctor! He was vanquished, as he remembered that I’d been my herbalist grandfather ‘s favourite; he had dragged me along when he went digging plant roots in the bush for his patients good health. Noble duty. And dad relented. Ambition turned out to be futile, when I opted impulsively to be a thorn in the sides of political authorities. Dad was devastated when I was later made to pay for it.
Naturally dad’s hope shifted to his last born. Albeit an unenthusiastic performer at manual labour chores, the substitute showed promise in the classroom. Skepticism whether he could fill the vacuum left by the eldest brother, arose when he chose to study law. “A re o ya go dirang ko UB, monnao?” ”He says he’s going to study law!” “Owaii, o raya motho a ya go ithuta maaka?”
We argued misperception that lawyers were liars, taught how to lie to save criminals! Thankfully deadlocked debate didn’t stop Key from registering for his law degree. At UB junior did well in class, also at campus student activities.
Thankfully he detached himself from me by avoiding visits to the University Purchasing Office where I plied my hand‐to‐mouth trade. University authorities might have suspected my influence in his leadership of campus insurrectionary activities.
The likelihood of course, wouldn’t have worked under Professors Turner and Tlou; they were models of good management, skillfully manouevring tides of student activities sans blaming outsiders.
While I had lofty ideals which I dismally failed to achieve, brother Justice OBK Dingake seems to have been endowed with determination to drive his plans! I am overawed by the profundity of his mind, his dedication and vision to succeed in his profession despite challenges he has encountered along the way.
He has made steady, gentle, conspicuous presence in the war against the HIV and AIDS pandemic ; he is wooed avidly for his professional devotion by the legal fraternity around the world and Papua New Guinea in the bowels of the South Pacific, has eventually claimed him as a precious import. Someone eulogizing his qualities and juridical achievements, has said, his loss to Botswana is the gain of PNG.
I concur but add to the observation, that he is Botswana crown jewel in her international image. We must pat ourselves on the back that he is Botswana’s most precious export commodity exceeding he Lucra diamond inthe global market! None can say Botswana hasn’t contributed positively to the globalisation phenomenon integrating the world and humanity at large.
Globalisation has its negative impact particularly in developing world. Africa , Botswana in the lead role is consciously and unconsciously is helping to fumigate the stench hanging over the big polluted hole Trump and his racist colonial kinsmen have left in Africa.
Paradoxically Botswana demonstrates its strength in spite of our own intrinsic shortcomings reflected in our superstitious hangover and the corrosive PHD (non‐academic) syndrome that pervades our society including the courtrooms!
Brother Key, I vouch, is always, has been and will always be independent‐minded and original beyond petty suspicions of undue influence from brother or any kindred source whatsoever. His first letter during my sojourn ‘overseas’ revealed the quality of his budding mind.
In JC Form I class his first letter kept me thinking; it was informative, organized, thoughtful, passionate, with a fair amount of curiosity plotting a move on planet‐survival chessboard for his age. What was the salaries of Judges? He probed. Was it a mind conjuring and turning around avenging the injustice of an incarcerated brother? Don’t, ask me, I ask you to register my approval of the pursuit of his study of law.
I later gave him a book present, “Genius for Defence,” (forgotten the author), on the eve of his enrolment at UB. The book is about the life of Maurice Maurice, SA legendary lawyer, who very much fascinated me by his court‐craft in particular on cross‐ examination of witnesses, meticulous research he conducted prior to appearance in court and his punctuality.
MM was a legend worth emulating by all budding scholars. I don’t know whether the book inspired student Key Dingake or not. I only reminisce on my puny contribution to his efforts!
Justice OBK Dingake does impress me as a product from a kraal flowing with the milk of human kindness to be found only in Botswana! Since our clan is reared in this pool of the milk of human kindness, I am unsurprised. Our thinking, mine and his, sometimes converge.
I sensed it from one of his postcards sent from London where he was doing his Masters; 1987, I think it was. Inscription was from Dom Helder Camara’s, it made the point: “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food , they call me a communist.” That’s the dilemma of ideology that makes me and fellow‐travelers anti‐establishment! Thank you for your attention