Rest in Peace, Mphola

Bereft of Rampholo Augustine Molefhe, this country's journalism, politics, and the arts in the broader sense of the term, are the poorer.

As someone said at the funeral of this icon on Sunday December 30 last year, the repertoire of Rampholo's artistic abilities was as broad as the spectrum of the endeavours that tap into human creative impulse. Because it is difficult to encapsulate his life here, it is our hope that the many who knew and befriended him will play a part in presenting each a segment of Rampholo's rich and varied life for posterity. Though he was equally at home in literature - reading and critiquing many works - we dare to present Rampholo here briefly as a cultural activist who found expression in journalism and music partly because this is the aspect of the man with which we are more familiar. For much of his life, he used both creative endeavours to good effect. FESTAC '77 - that extravagant celebration of African culture and its contribution to currents of universal human thought and achievement that was staged in Nigeria in 1977 - must remain prominent in Rampholo's many accomplishments. Then only 21 years of age, Rampholo not only shared the stage with Black Africa's best from the continent and the Diaspora, but he led a formidable crew of African National Congress (ANC) performers and poets that participated in the jamboree.

Speaking at the funeral, renowned trombonist, Jonas Gwangwa, explained that being well-read and articulate had decided the choice of Rampholo as the leader of the group and prevailed over protestations that he was not a South African. The internationalist who was already versed in the writings of Karl Marx, Malcolm X, Mao Tse Tung, Frederick Douglas, Franz Fanon and Vladimir Lenin was on his way to becoming the forceful and often angry political journalist that he remained to his last days. But though he had led the ANC to FESTAC '77, one of his most abiding friends told mourners that Rampholo's loyalty was more firmly with the Pan Africanist Congress and the Black Consciousness Movement, and therein lay an improbable concord between comrades who had different political outlooks for South Africa and Zimbabwe. Douglas Tsiako told how they once spent an entire night arguing about this at the old No-Mathata intersection upon retiring from the Gaborone Sun where they often imbibed much in the company of Priestesses of Aphrodite, the so-called "Me-Nices," whom they regarded as more reliable sources of information regarding apartheid raids on refugees. A Catholic to boot, Rampholo had a sense of humour to match: Chumza, as he was affectionately known, often reminded people that St. Augustine, after whom he was named, was an unparalleled sexologist who had written extensively on the subject; most likely, he would add, from the contentment of practice.  Speaking at the funeral, Rampholo's son, Tshiamo, unveiled the truth behind his father's sobriquet: He called everyone Chumza because he could not remember each one by name. It made perfect sense because Rampholo was as gregarious in friendship as he was eclectic in music, especially jazz. Mphola believed in expanding the frontiers of freedom of expression. And though that end was yet to come when he passed away on Sunday 24 December 2012, he has inspired us to strive without let for its attainment.

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This period, running from May 20 to 31 2024, is crucial for those who have not yet registered to vote. This announcement comes in response to a significant shortfall in registered voters following the recent registration period. As it stands, only 62% of the target number of voters registered, leaving a considerable gap.With Botswana's general elections scheduled for October, every eligible citizen needs to register and exercise their...

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