Dear Seretse. I wanted to start off by saying, â€śWe have made it,â€ť and then I thought you might think the Heaven Express Mail Service, has resent you my previous letter from last week. So now that you know this is the second letter let me say it, for the third time in two letters, â€śWe have made it!â€ť Botswana has celebrated 50 years of peaceful self-rule and exceptional governance last week.
It was beautiful at the National Stadium. The Stadium is much bigger and carries a decent capacity now and it was packed to the rafters with proud Batswana in blue, black and white.
In the morning, Ian arrived in the same shining crystal black Rolls Royce that you used in 1966 (not that we don’t have better car models, nowadays. It was just a symbolic and sentimental gesture) and your boy’s driver was wearing that old Bechuanaland khaki police uniform. Although Ian appeared rather lonely riding solo in the back seat of the Royce, it was a beautiful entourage because the immaculately dressed Botswana Defence Force (BDF) personnel escorted him riding white elegantly attired horses, moving gracefully around the stadium racetrack to the applause of multitudes that had descended on the now resplendent national stadium, with comfortable seating, unlike those rickety stands your contemporaries used on that day.
They even re-enacted the 1966 lowering of the Union Jack against the rising Botswana flag. They brought in the colonial British Army who marched alongside the Bechuanaland Police wearing those old khaki uniforms made up of khaki shorts that made them look like some kind of wealthy masters’ herdboys, especially with those knee-length socks.
Ian was evidently in a cheerful mood that day. Actually, he seemed to have been the most infected by the BOTS50 fever judging by the jovial mood he came into the stadium. He even stood up and danced in front of international guests. You know your son. He doesn’t just stand up and dance, especially in front of guests, unless he is really happy, but he did. For the entire celebrations, I was watching him closely. I observed his body language, so that I could share with you. Your son can be intimidating sometimes; he has this cold daring look that he put on during days when he is not in his best of moods. But I am happy to tell you that he was in good spirits the entire show on Independence Day. Maybe he was also pleased with the Naledi Ya Botswana award that he received on Boipuso.
During the build-up to the celebrations, a rumour spread like wildfire that Ian would arrive at the Stadium astride a tamed zebra. There were two zebras named Teemane and Two-short that were tamed and paraded at the National Stadium. We hear they are being groomed for the world first presidential ride. Knowing Ian and his love for wild animals and passion for adventure sport, we actually believed the rumours. It got to a point I was looking forward to such a spectacle of the President making his entry atop a zebra , arguably a first in the world that would have been a serious contender for a space in the Guinness World Book of Records. as the first President in the World to ride a zebra on Independence Day.
Ian was certainly on cloud nine on Boipuso that he even led the nation in prayer in the middle of his Independence address. He thanked God for the country’s blessings and achievements and also prayed for the rain. Before the end of the day, his prayer was miraculously answered as in that instant, rain clouds gathered at the his Kgotla in Serowe and started precipitating. Bangwato were ecstatic.
But Sir, we did not have many international guests for our Boipuso. The British Royal Family sent Prince Andrew, Duke of York, the second son and third child of Queen Elizabeth II.
Only three African leaders – Mozambique’s president Filipe Nyusi, King Mswati of Swaziland and Lesotho’s King Letsie made the trip to Gaborone. Most African leaders are uneasy with Ian frank shooting-from-the-hip talk as well as his subbing of their meetings. Ian rarely attends their African Union meetings. Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe was famously absent on our Independence Day. The 92-year old statesman had confirmed but he later changed his mind after Ian told Reuters, “Mugabe’s time as president is up”. Some Africans were really upset over that saying, “it is unAfrican and how can Ian talk to elders like that.”
Although the organisers pulled a beautiful show at the National Stadium they dropped the ball by not planning to provide food for the masses to eat Boipuso in Gaborone. Although many people enjoyed the show, they left the Stadium with long hungry faces. I wonder what kind of tradition that is, where Motswana celebrates without food and drinks.
The family celebrated Boipuso by watching an African premiere of a new film about you and Ruth. But your grandsons, Jacqueline’s boys refused us together with local media to watch it saying, “it is a private family affair”. They were actually charging Batswana P1, 500.00 for a single movie ticket – people were so bemused at the ticket price that they wondered whether you and Ruth would be there in persons.
Jaquie’s boys are actually turning into the new age Ratshosa brothers. They are as pompous as the Ratshosa brothers, maybe even worse. Although they go by some Dutch surname, they make sure that everyone know that they are grandsons of Seretse Khama the First President of Botswana and are nephews of the current president.
Although we naturally expect such kind of flamboyance and self-importance from a mongwato man, many people feel they are taking it a little bit too far that it is now bordering on arrogance. I wish Ian could have an uncle-nephew chat with them.