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Enough with drunken driving

KGOSIETSILE NGAKAAGAE
We are into December. Most of us are looking forward to a merry festive season. It is a time for clan and family reunions.

It is time to roast meat on the open fire. Time to give and to love. Time for music and dance. Gaborone, must give back to the villages what she has stolen. Village economies must blossom. No matter how broke you are, somehow you must end up home.

And that is exactly what I intend to do. I will be going home to the village of my boyhood. I will be taking an excursion back to simplicity. I intend to walk on the sands of the Mahalapye river and to throw the pebbles as far as my eyes can see. My children will connect with their clans-folk. I am taking my daughter’s trampoline with me. I am taking it for the village kids. They will jump on it until stars come out of hiding. I want to hear their chuckles as they jump merrily on it. I am shutting the door on Gaborone. Don’t plan trouble with the police. I will be on voicemail.

But home will not be the same anymore. Some familiar faces will be missing. Some familiar voices have fallen silent forever.

Sometimes death strikes when least expected. It strikes at the happiest hour, “when the winds are kissing every sail”. Suddenly the ship “hits the unseen rock” and disappears beneath the foamy tides. In a moment, lives are changed forever; for worse.

I sat with a government pathologist years back. We were waiting for court to start. I asked him why he chose to live a life of tearing decomposing corpses apart. He looked at me with an expressionless face; “Kgosi” he said, “each time a cardaver lies on the table, I remind myself that just a day ago, maybe two, he was just like me. He had dreams. He had family. He had goals and a life he looked forward to. Now there he is. Dead. All that reduced to naught. I owe it to him and to his own to determine why he should be in that state. It cannot be proper that he just goes and we forget. It’s a service to him and it’s a service to God for which I am rewarded in untold blessings.”

Oh, deary me. I had thought Dr. Prabhakar and other pathologists did it all for money. Just as they say I do. I discovered that there was a bigger and nobler calling behind it all. There was commitment to a cause greater than self. I went into court humbled, asking questions about my own life. What I live and stand for.

To this day, I ask myself why I

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must be missing those faces when I get home. Why their dreams and hopes were dashed in an instant as they travelled to attend a relative’s wedding. Why their families had to be grieved. Let me put you in the loop. Two years ago, I suffered what was literally a rude awakening. A phone rang.  It was news that we had lost three close relatives in a car accident. That was on November 28, 2015.

An individual spent all night consuming all manner of drink, according to eyewitnesses. After a sleepless night, he drove his van into my cousins and aunties’ lane. Five lives were lost that morning, including his. A burning spear was thrust through our hearts. We are still bleeding to this day.

Look here, I do not claim to be the best driver out there. Those of you who know me would know what I have been through. Twice in four years, I have emerged from car debris following a rollover. One was an animal incident, near Gweta. The other was a tyre burst, near Dibete. I have lived to tell this story. My children still have a father. Other children have not been that fortunate. And if the truth be told, most of the calamities could have been avoided. If only, we cared to prioritise life before vain arrogance and momentary pleasures.

Each time a reckless motorist strikes off a lane into oncoming traffic, I relive my loss. I remember that that is just how I lost my loved ones. Each time I look through the window of my van and see a man holding a beer with one hand and the wheel with the other, my heart breaks. It costs a driver some ten pula to buy a beer. The cost to society is more and I didn’t drink a part of it.

I hope the police adopt a zero tolerance policy to drunken driving. I hope they put aside the admission of guilt book and use their cells more. I hope they detain drunk drivers for a full 48 hours. I swear I won’t respond to calls for bail. I hope they target parties and liquor outlets. I hope they rope in retired police officers to assist. You say, “Kgosi, you are bitter”. Oh yes, I am. Bitter as grapefruit. Don’t I have a right to be. I lost three relatives just so someone could have a night of fleeting fun. I do not speak for myself, I speak for all those like circumstanced. Ikgalemeleng banwi ba majalwa. We love our own.



Chief On Friday

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