Letter to Seretse: Batswana uninspired, sad at 55

In the news: Police arrest a member of the public during Thuso Tiego's protest. PIC: THALEFANG CHARLES
In the news: Police arrest a member of the public during Thuso Tiego's protest. PIC: THALEFANG CHARLES

Dumela Phuti. It has been 55 years of self-rule, but the fun is all gone.

The glorious days when Gobe Matenge and the 1976 10th Anniversary Independence Celebrations Unit (TACU), transformed what was considered deplorable social and professional attitudes of Batswana into positive and desirable behaviours, is all gone.

It is not that we have gone back to the early 1970s' deplorable habit of fighting and pushing each other over food, no. Matenge had long stopped that. But 55 years later, the national feeling of Boipuso is all doom and gloom. There is no ox roasting or samp and ginger to celebrate. There are no events, no football matches, no dikhwaere and no movement. This is the second year that Botswana does not celebrate Independence Day due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a hard and challenging 18 months of the State of Emergency under Edison Masisi’s son, Mokgweetsi. We have lost great sons and daughters of the nation due to this pandemic.

But despite these challenging and uncertain times, Edison’s son is busy ordering the government to buy hotels and grab land in the Okavango Delta without accounting to the nation. The President is a great and smooth talker, his silver tongue can get around the nation. He has the master skills of a smart salesperson and can sell dreams. Most of his election promises are still a pipe dream. But ruling party politicians, some of whom are now ‘Covidprenuers’ having benefited immensely from pandemic tenders, are blaming all the broken ‘better-life’ promises on the COVID-19 pandemic. The people are not convinced.

Things are so bad that even pastors are protesting on the streets. Recently, a popular controversial pastor, Reverend Thuso Tiego became the new poster child of these sad and angry times. Armed with a cellphone inside his vehicle, Tiego demanded through Facebook videos that President Masisi steps down. The pastor has been crying of hunger, he called it ‘Mmaditlala’ - 'mother of all pangs of hunger'. It might sound ironic for a grown man to be that hungry yet and still have plenty of Internet data and petrol, but these are the days of our lives. The pastor’s protest earned him a night in a cell and a dropped charge. The police, possibly due to their pent up anger too, are quick to forcibly lock anyone up who tries to protest. Some musicians tried to beg the powers that be to open the entertainment industry, but they too were quickly locked up.

It has been 18 months without entertainment and the creatives have been battling to survive. Many people lost their jobs and their loved ones too. Coupled with the deaths, movement restrictions, and an uncertain future, the last 18 months have been the worst of all. Depression, cash-in-transit heists and passion-related crimes have been on the rise due to this sad state of affairs.

But after Independence Day, the country’s longest State of Emergency is finally coming to an end. There is hesitant hope because we are not out of the woods yet. Many people have not yet been vaccinated. The vaccine roll-out has been disappointing. With many people still to get their jabs, returning to the near-normal is still in doubt.

Phuti, your party, Domkrag is once again going through internal squabbles. Infighting has become a norm, especially when the opposition seems fragmented and not posing a serious challenge. Meanwhile, your son Ian’s party, Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) has kicked out its leader, possibly a move to have Tshekedi take over. Imagine Tshekedi as president! Do you think Rra Goankgang would be proud?

A kalo.

Sir Seretse Khama
Sir Seretse Khama

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