MMOKOLODI: The people of Mmokolodi Village that lies behind the leafy suburb on the hill that shares its name just to the south of Gaborone were spared the normal gusts of dust - at least for a day - after heavy machines graded the road that bisects the village overnight, thanks to a visit by President Ian Khama there yesterday.
The bumpy road has hoarded headlines for the wrong reasons, including the dust storms raised by 'damnable' heavy trucks that carry masonry excavated by blasting from a quarry on Kgale Hill. Over the years, the headlines - including stories about Balete seeking the intervention of the courts to stop the 'trespassing' trucks - have failed to produce any desirable results.
But things began to change on Wednesday when two earth-moving machines descended on the village and worked on the road until the wee hours of Thursday morning to ensure that President Khama and his entourage would travel on a smooth surface when they came to address a rare kgotla meeting in the village later after that day.
Driving from Gaborone onto the controversial road that leads into the forgotten village on Thursday morning, motorists were pleasantly surprised to find - and feel - that the hateful, bumpy route had been replaced by a flat, horizontal and smooth surface that bore the hallmark of fresh workmanship and engineering.
On this glorious day, even the bumpy route that leads westwards to Gabane Village had been given a rare facelift so that the President and his entourage could connect from Mmokolodi without a hitch.
The Chairman of the Village Development Committee (VDC) here, Bashi Buti, says 10s of Ipelegeng workers had also done their part on the road the previous day, delivering concrete and sand. "It is surprising that so much was done so fast and in such earnest for the visit of the President," Buti says.
"Over all these years, we have tried to get the roads department to do something to improve this road, but the answer we have always been
given was that there was neither equipment nor money. But so much has been done today, all in a day's work! They even worked throughout the night. This man (President Khama) really helped with his visit.
Even the company that gorges the hill out for masonry must have been told to behave because the noise and dust from its heavy trucks were nowhere to be heard or to choke anyone.
The Member of Parliament for the constituency under which Mmokolodi falls, Mmoloki Raletobana, was lost for words to describe the new-look road that everyone dreads. However, shouting at the top of their voices, the villagers were on hand to give him the rundown: "Go baakantswe bosigo (They fixed it last night!)," they said.
But lo and behold! Hardly 30 minutes had passed after the President and his entourage had left when the trucks came lumbering down the road to mark a return to routine for villagers to whom normalcy means dust in the eyes and down their air passages, to say nothing of the constant ear-busting noise.
While here, President Khama gave the people a ray of hope that the Ministry of the Environment, Wildlife and Tourism may dispatch a team of experts to determine the extent of the adverse effects of the dust and the noise. The President even suggested that the miners at the quarry could be advised to use an alternative route away from the village.
Hopefully, many here are still sufficiently sighted to have seen the ray of hope flashed by the President. More significantly, many here will be hoping that the flash in the pan occasioned by the President's visit will lead to something more durable and find their afflictions still curable before another donkey's years have passed.
The people of Mmokolodi are in a twilight zone in more meanings than one. Many are of Balete rootstock, and the tribal zoning is partly in harmony with that. Perhaps just as many are of Kwena tribal background, hence the territory straddles both Kweneng and Ga-Malete.