Despite the tragic crash that claimed the life of a Botswana Defence Force (BDF) pilot on Friday during rehearsals, a few hours to the 41st BDF Day celebrations on Saturday, the event still has a spark.
When The Monitor team arrived at the event around 5:40am, multitudes of patrons had already made their way into the National Stadium with a majority still in long queues hoping to get inside. It was said some started arriving at the stadium as early as 3:30am.
Last year, masses forcefully pushed their way into the stadium with some ending up literally sitting on the floor and walkways of the stands, thus putting their safety at risky.
With what could appear as a shock following the Friday tragic BDF jet accident, throughout the event the director of ceremony (DC) kept on stressing the importance of patrons’ safety as well as informing them on how to react in cases of emergency. The DC announced that they had cleared the parking area outside for patrons to rush to in case of emergency.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi, former presidents Ian Khama and Festus Mogae were amongst thousands who thronged the stadium, as were the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi and many other senior government officials.
Although the activities of the day have not changed much over the years, the day has remained
The day’s activities kicked off with Masisi inspecting a guard of honour followed by the main parade that started with a slow march and ended with a quick march off the pitch.
The dog and horse displays were some of the favourites, especially with the boys. The dogs have been trained to march, follow instructions and to sniff for weapons and drugs.
Members of the public were also entertained by a Pantsola dance performed by soldiers with some spectators joining in.
The noisy mock battle and fly past were not as entertaining as before because perhaps it reminded the patrons of the tragedy that had just befallen the army.
As the two fighter jets flew past, a hubbub arose amongst the patrons, with even soldiers in uniform commenting about the other missing fighter jet. For years the three fighter jets formations have been entertaining people. Despite the tragedy, the army took a decision not to replace it.
The event ended with the BDF showcasing its fleet of military hardware.