We value our wildlife and we have plenty of it. I have had occasion to see the best of my country and I know it is true. We carry ourselves with pride and dignity wherever we go. We boast about it all because we have done so well as regards conservation. We do have our challenges, but we are surely the best.
And we did it all without the West. or that we deserve some respect as a people.
For all the many things I disagree with on how my country has been run; for all the horrendous policy choices that have been made overtime; for all the criticism I have meted out and will continue to mete out on my leadership, I wouldn’t trade my country for any other. And I would happily give my life for it. I know many others who would. And I know many others who would sooner demand that the national economy should fail for them.
This week, we came under a malicious attack from the royal uncles.
To say I was offended would be an understatement. I was offended not so much by what was said as by why it was said. It smacked of malice aforethought. It was treasonous. So many Batswana were outraged. Rightly so. Not that these uncles would care.
These are useless fellows who think that conservation began with them and that they have something to do with the way our wildlife heritage is.
These characters forget that we co-existed with our fauna and flora for centuries and that we are fully capable of taking care of it without their input. Fancy this.
Sometime last year, someone, invited me to an evening meal. It was winter and it made sense to make a fire. We were looking for any dead branches when someone protested that certain trees were not to be used as firewood. A discussion began on the why question.
The host asked us to consider what kind of trees people were forbidden, culturally, to use as firewood. We settled, generally, on fruit trees and other rare trees. In the end he told us, “It was all conservation”. Yes, by my grandmother and grandfather.
Before they even knew there was a white man. And they had not been to school. So some deluded moron told the westerners that poachers are having a field day with Botswana elephants because the new administration was senseless enough to disarm the Anti-Poaching Unit (APU) without Plan B. Let us be clear about one thing.
The tourism minister does not need a ministerial army any more that Dorcas Makgato needs a homeland security army to police our borders. What more?
There is an Arms and Ammunitions Act, and it is law. Any person who bears firearms except under licence issued under the said Act is a criminal.
The criminal gang was for a good cause, we were told. The true motives behind its formation have always been a subject of controversy.
Well, I never believed the APU was formed for genuine reasons. I would be a moron to. But it was a criminal gang all the same, because it was in unlawful possession of arms of war.
Worse, it had been ordered to shoot to kill in a country that prides itself in the lawful use of force. Whoever gave the APU arms of war deserved the minimum mandatory term under the Arms and Ammunition Act. Whoever trained them on their use offended the Penal Code prohibitions on trainings in and the use of arms. True, there was a time when a man could fly BDF aircraft against the express provisions of statute and be saluted on landing by the very police who were supposed to arrest him. Those days are over, and rightly so. We are back to our old polished habits.
There are considerations which transcend political affiliations and personal creed. Tourism is the country’s second highest foreign revenue earner and our lives depend, in no small part, on it.
Any unwarranted assault on it is a declaration of war on all patriotic citizens. Resisting the desecration of your nation’s democracy is every citizen’s duty. Defending those we have chosen to lead us in the due execution of our duties is another.
An unwarranted attack on institutions of government must be resisted at all costs. No man should be allowed to hold the nation at ransom. That is not to say that people should conform to some dogmatic viewpoint of nationalism and patriotism.
Sometimes it is important to disobey your own laws and your government in the interest of country.
We are told by these uncles that poachers raided the park and decimated eighty seven elephants. Kingsize lies.
The world has been told theirs was an easy task because there was no one guarding the parks. Well, if we are to believe all that claptrap, it would mean that the minister of tourism slept on the job.
Well, maybe he tried to persuade the President to do something all to no avail. But then it is all lies, because we know the politics behind the malicious propaganda campaign.