I hope you are doing well, Joao. Been thinking of you since I heard the news that you are no longer allowed to set foot in my country again.
You have been a part of us for quite a while, Joao Salbany. That is why many of us here feel bereaved. We first met at Law School, remember. You were Chairperson of the UB, Law Society and I was doing my first year. I was a member of the society’s Executive Committee. I was young Joao, hardly out of my teens. I trust you know how young people think when they enter University.
They think that the whole country, including the BDF and the prostitutes by the Gaborone West bars would be better off in their hands and that the President and the Ministers have no idea what they are doing. They argue forcefully, Joao, that the Ethiopian Emperor slept with the Queen of Sheba during her visit to Ethiopia and bore the wise King Solomon and that the true Jesus Christ, was black.
I wondered, then, what in the name of the holy virgin a white guy was doing, running our UB Law Society. The guys who voted you were traitors. I mean, there were so many “sons of the soil”, who could do it. You were just another vestige of colonialism that missed the last ship home. Forgive me, my friend. When I got to UB, the first book they thrust in my hands was the “Autobiography of Malcom X”. I spent time with the likes of Diba-wa-Diba, Khumo Thema, Kelly Bojosi, Busang Manewe, Malike Mmohe and Jatiel Mudamburi talking Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey and we watched Alex Haley’s “Roots” series every evening, without fail. Yes, I was appalled by the atrocities meted upon Kunta Kinte. I believed that Garvey’s Back to Africa call was still valid and that the descendants of Kunta Kinte must sue the whites for chopping off his foot.
How wrong I was about you, my friend. You were just Joao. Another human being. The guy who drove an ancient, noisy, smoking Beetle. Who shared a fire lighter with the rest of the niggers and delighted in everything local. You were the chief nigger in the hood. That is all I have known you to be. I can’t recall a time at law school, or after, when you were not a part of the brotherhood.
We would meet later at the bar and we got to work even more closely. Remember our days doing the Bank of Baroda robbery case? We fought a lot, but never lost the mutual respect. Look man, I know many white guys here who are racists. Together with some racist Indians, they control
Back then, my colleagues would arrive at the DPP’s office threatening to blow themselves up because you resisted a remand application saying all kinds of nonsense that the magistrate found convincing. I remember one of those days. Present were Basimane Bogopa and Lindy Muzila. I cannot remember who else. After swearing at you and promising to kick your backside upon sight, we agreed unanimously that if we ever got into personal trouble it’s a guy like you that we would trust with our lives. We laughed at the irony of it all. You reminded me of that the other day on Facebook when you asked if I can recall how I used to complain that you were always being so difficult. You fought well, brother. You were right, all along.
And I am eternally indebted to our bruising battles for my growth. The countless hours we would spend waiting for court to begin, just discussing the eternal issues of law and reality. You loved our country, Joao, and you will always be one of us.
It must be hard being a lawyer in a country not your own. I never imagined that you could ever be considered undesirable simply for arguing a constitutional position on Facebook. I would assume that was your undoing, until the powers that be say you were involved in backstreet abortions. I always thought that a lawyer must interpret the law conscientiously and that nationality has no part in legal correctness. I remember the debate on presidential succession. We argued from the same corner. By deductive logic, the only reason I am still here, Joao, is because I was born here. What your expulsion confirms is a continuing disdain for dissent on the part of my government. One day your four young children will not have to cross a border to see their father, Joao. Their brutalisation, will end.
You have earned your place amongst us through your service and loyalty to our cause, Joao. Sorry, that does not carry the day here. Your colour was right. You moron; just how did you leave behind the campaign money?