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Botswana’s Moment of Truth

With all that we are reading in the papers regarding political developments in our country, one does wonder how all these affect us as ordinary Batswana.

The coming elections in 2019 are not just business as usual as some of us have been thinking. It is becoming quite evident that they are a moment in the life of this great nation where for the first time in a long time people will have even more than one or two extremely viable choices with compelling credentials. Batswana will have even more of an opportunity to voice their preference on the kind of leadership we need as a country and the kind of people we are to become as Batswana.

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

The leaders of all the political parties have impressive resumes and have proven their commitment and complete faith in their visions and ideologies. In essence, the question is now who is the best choice out of a line up of very good choices. Botswana is at a cross roads; this is a moment where each of us need to take a moment to search our own hearts, our own minds, our own conscience and interrogate a decision that we make not for ourselves, not just for our future, but for our children and for many a generation to come.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens cannot change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead

Change is hard, and we all of us afraid of change. I daresay even those who currently are in power dare not contemplate a sunrise where they find themselves in the opposition. I daresay even those who are on the cusp of taking new power are themselves afraid, and maybe they question whether or not they have it in them to finally deliver when it counts .

I daresay we as Batswana are also afraid. We are afraid of making a choice, of taking a decision on whether we can possibly throw our fate to those who haven’t been tried and tested before. Batswana have never been ruled by any other party besides the BDP! We are rightfully afraid because truly, much is at stake. We have had decades of good governance with a government which has done so much for us. As some would even say – “if it ain’t broken why fix it right”?

But the question is, will fortune favour our cowardice? This is the moment of truth that we do face now; we are looking at a country that needs to ask itself the hard questions of who we are as a people and what we stand for? Of what we want for our own future?  A leap of faith is needed.

In addition to fear in moments such as these; where those who have no voice dare to speak up, where people are fully convicted in their beliefs and ideas also there is pain. There is always pain when we do not agree on what is best for our country, on what the way forward should be, but this is not a bitter pain for it is a pain that is more of a testament to a labour of love than to greed and selfish heartlessness.

“There is a higher court than courts of justice, and that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

We need leaders who love the nation and love its ideals, who will stand for the good and the better and for justice,… as they say, we can see far as we are standing on the shoulders of giants. Botswana is a nation that has always produced legendary leaders even now as we speak. Is it surprising then that at this stage we are where we are now, that our democracy has given birth to so many brilliant minds with such an amount of diversity in their ideologies and approaches, I think not.

We not only need great leaders but we also need great Batswana. We need to take a stand and make an informed choice. For most of us, we may have stood at the sidelines for long maybe through a sense of helplessness, a sense of powerlessness and an inkling of despair. Things have changed - in our heart of hearts we all see that the moment of truth is now here. Choices will have to be made, not influenced by the media, not dictated

by power or seduced by the temptation of wealth. We need to make choices that we can hold ourselves accountable to, choices that we can truly make in faith and conviction.

“There is a LIGHT in this world. A healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. We sometimes lose sight of this force when there is suffering, and too much pain. Then suddenly, the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call and answer in extraordinary ways.” ~ Richard Attenborough

It is the time when we all need to take an individual part to play our role, in a way that will stand for a nation that needs us. Not for political expediency, not for the sake of loyalty or partisanship, not for convenience but for truth, justice and peace.

We need leadership that will lead by example to make the right choices and take the moral road. We need leaders that will look at their decisions carefully and sacrifice themselves for the love of this nation. This election can produce the worst of us as a nation or the best of us.

In truth, it isn’t just about 2019. It’s about jealously - guarding our democracy for today, for years to come, for another 50 years, for a century for a millennium. Our great nation is growing and we shall do so together as a nation, whichever party will win or lose. When democracy rules we are all winners.

As an African nation, our responsibility is greater than some may think. The odds are stacked against us. Our history tempts us to take the path of anarchy. The pain and despair in our past may tempt us to choose to throw away our true values and principles. Botswana is the country that has been built by the many; our democracy is so strong due to all who are part of this great nation,

“Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that generation.” ~ Nelson Mandela

We are choosing a new future and we shall do so in a peaceful way. A future in which everyone has access to the most basic of opportunities and needs such as basic economic empowerment that comes in the form of a decent job, decent housing and living conditions and a decent education.

Our success is when we see our citizens rise in their chosen fields, that is either, in business, in academics, is science in technology or otherwise. The success of this continent depends on the people of Africa who are its greatest resource. We can eradicate poverty and inequality in this country when we begin to arm and equip all Batswana with descent opportunities that will give people a greater level of dignity to allow people to build wealth that they will leave for their children so that their children can be independent and not dependant on handouts but can break the cycle of dependency and handouts forever. This country has talented people in arts music and sport, it has skilled and educated people and we need to create a nation that will nature them and not have them leave to benefit other nations with their talent.

We call upon Batswana and leaders in all spheres this can be in religion and in communities to speak and preach the message of peace and dialogue as per the values of our people.

Batswana are noble, we are peaceful loving and we will disagree and oppose each other but we will do so humbly and with the dignity that befits our heritage. Batswana should guard against being taken over by a spirit of fear and discontent and a taking up of arms as this is not our way.

“When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love. Where evil men seek to perpetrate an unjust ‘status quo’, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice.” ~ Martin Luther King

“I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

*Dali Lekgorwane

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