Rest in peace Rre Motshidisi

The late Klaas Motshidisi
The late Klaas Motshidisi

It is always disheartening to lose a loved one, but it is more disheartening to lose people who are a walking treasure, a fountain of knowledge such as Rre Klaas Motshidisi.

On the contrary, it is comforting to tell yourself that all is well, as it is the arrangement made by non-other than the creator himself therefore, no man can undo!

This man was without doubt, one of the greatest sons of Palapye

A humble man with a serious looking face Yet he had a golden heart

He was a wise man indeed

And was always willing to share his wisdom with all.

These words best describe Rre Motshidisi as I know him, a leader and a father figure. I had the honour to have interacted with this great man during his life, and here I will share some of the moments that I had with him. I first went to school with some of his sons, being Kediemetse aka “Skido” and the late Kopano.

We went to the same school, Palapye Secondary School in the mid 80’s when Rre Motshidisi was still a Commissioner of Labour. What I recall is that, whenever he was home he would play his role of a father, and would not shy away from admonishing the naughty childhood acts that we were usually enjoying as young boys. Those were the days!

As a grown up, I first had the privilege of interacting with Rre Motshidisi when I was doing my MA research.   I was working on “proverbs’, and their use in conflict resolution. I had to visit the Palapye Kgotla to do some interviews with the Dikgosi. I met him, the late Kgosi Ntebele, Kgosi Olebile, the late Nkwaila of Lotsane and the late Seboka of Khurumela. During our discussions, Rre Motshidisi proved his knowledge in various areas of life – social, cultural, historical and political, and he was able to relate all these to one another to show that they complement each other to make life complete.

He contributed immensely to the development and production of my dissertation as a result of the knowledge he had.

He talked about his experiences with regard to Setswana culture and languages, his interactions with the greats, such as Rre Ponatshego Mokane and bo-Rre Kidikilwe whom he respected and considered as ambassadors of our culture. It was quite enlightening for a scholar in my field!

Rre Motshidisi would complain about how we are neglecting our culture in favour of foreign culture which sometimes comes with more harm than good.

I remember when he warned me about the tendency of young scholars who just do research for the purposes of getting their degrees and not to develop their country.  He said; ‘O a bona gore tsatsieno ofa, maloba e ne ele Keineetse, maloba yo mongwe, ka moso fa lenao la gago le ise le sutlhege mo kgotleng e go tla a bo go kokota yo mongwe, mme fa o tsena mo diofising tsa lona ga go na se se supang fa le a tle le tle fa, lona bana ba Palapye segolo..”. [You see, you are here today, yesterday it was Keineetse, the day before him it was another one, tomorrow, even before your trails disappear from this kgotla, another person will be knocking on our door.

Look at our shelves, we have nothing that is evidence of these visits, especially from you Palapians].

He was talkative and a good orator. He had the ability to use words at ease.

He would wisely use proverbs and idioms to emphasise his points, true to Kgosi Olebile’s words( interviewed by Donald Seberane, Thursday, 5th March, 2015 @ 1900hrs), Rre Motshidisi was obsessed with culture.

He was indeed a worried man, and he warned the youth of Palapye about leaving the elders who are very knowledgeable to die with the information they have about their village, and now he has gone, preceded by Rre Ntebele, Rre Nkwaila, Rre Shashane, just to mention a few greats.

I also remember another time last year when I consulted him to confirm something in connection with my job.

Well, as usual he assisted me, and then we engaged in our casual chat. Out of nowhere, he asked me about my political affiliation. I became a little bit shaky as he took me by surprise as we never went that far.  I wondered what I had done to deserve this question, I pondered on my response, and I also thought of what he would say. I was in a little dilemma.

Nonetheless, I manage to gain some courage and I asked why Rre Mothidisi? Before telling him that I was BDP.

To my surprise, he laughed his usual light laugh and said, ‘ngwanake! It is good to believe in what you cherish. You know, having different interests is not a sin, but how we relate with each other as people is important.

 I could tell since we met that you have a dream and potential therefore do not fear to pursue your dream. I will stop here ngwanake! as I am no longer a politician, and would not sway you to any side’. One could easily tell that this man was truly a nationalist politician of his time. This, said by such a great man was very encouraging. He then went on to narrate his rich and interesting story of his life, a very open man who was always ready to share his life with those who were open and honest with him.  Listening to him narrating his story, one would laugh; feel pity, sad and so on.  He was gifted in telling a story and would make you empathetic as he could evoke all sorts of human emotions.

He was indeed one of the national heroes whose mark is left in all spheres of life; be it civil service, political, social and cultural.  He needs to be honestly commended and appraised for the positive contributions he made in the development of this country and the lives of Batswana in particular.

I will end by sending my condolences to the Motshidisi family and thank them for having availed him to the nation throughout his life.  Let me also borrow for William Shakespeare’s Julius Ceasar and say to Batswana; ‘…the evil that men do lives long after them; the good is often interred with their bones.’ This says more than I am saying to us, as a nation!

Thank You

Norman Shaw Gadilatolwe

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