An ode to Tom

Dearly departed: Tom – the music man PIC: THALEFANG CHARLES
Dearly departed: Tom – the music man PIC: THALEFANG CHARLES

I can still hear his sound. The ripples of a carved bow scratched rhythmically with a small wooden stick. The mogwana bow, held together by a palm leaf string that he softly blows onto the melancholic hollow whistle, produces that haunting whirring sound. That was the sound of Thopo ‘Tom’ Retiyo’s music instrument called seworoworo.

Last Friday morning, an angry elephant came trumpeting and trampled on Tom at his fields at Mbiroba, near Seronga and ended his life at 53-years-old.

My path and Tom’s came together about seven years ago. We were brought together by the Okavango Delta. Tom was not just a traditional musical virtuoso who told Okavango stories through songs with seworoworo, he was a legendary mokoro poler. He was one of only four Batswana who have travelled by mekoro the entire length of the Okavango River basin from the source lake of the Cuito River in the highlands of Angola through Namibia and to where the water ends at Lake Xau, in the Makgadikgadi Pans area.

Editor's Comment
A woman’s right to choose: Or is it?

Here in Botswana, we have many single-parent households, mostly female-led, so what does that suggest? That some fathers choose to ditch the responsibility of caring for their children and leave them to the ones who carry them during pregnancy to do the heavy lifting.Of course, in other dynamics, there are instances where the father wants to keep the baby and the would-be mother does not want to, hence the saying ‘whose body is it anyway’.In...

Have a Story? Send Us a tip
arrow up