Our friends can be funny. Very funny, if you ask me. I am talking about our uncles by the main mall. Well, to be fair it could be those by Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS).
Both have the capabilities to interfere with our communication and are not known to be very enthusiastic about law and ethics. Somehow, one is supposed to live with the reality of voices popping up in their telephone conversations.
The other day they were at it for about five seconds. I laughed it off and they quickly realised their mistake and cut off. Learned Counsel Lecha says that once upon a time, they mistakenly sent him a text message. I swear I am not lying. Just ask him. Imagine an SMS from them. It must have been like a scene from a horror movie, even a Ludlum tale. Except, a local production.
Somehow, people are supposed to be afraid. People are supposed to be afraid of their government. People must be afraid of what their government could do to them. God forbid. I have always said that democracy is not when the people fear their government.
Democracy is when a government fears the people. The worst disfavour any people can do for themselves is to fear their creation. Governments are supposed to keep us secure, not terrified. Governments have no mandate but the happiness of the people.
When an individual infuses fear in you, it is because they have their own fear(s). They instill fear in order that you may personally censor yourself. Fear is a cruel and inexpensive way of governance. A government needs not send the police after you.
No, you police yourself. Fear confers an advantage to your tormentor. You do half their job; all against yourself. A government cannot be with you everywhere.
But you are with yourself everywhere. You must be afraid that your office is bugged; that the car following you belongs to a spy agency; that your home is bugged; that your cellphone is bugged; that they have your bedroom pictures and that they have gadgets all over your car.
You must be afraid that they will have your conversations on tape; that they are monitoring your movements; that they could hurt your family. You must be afraid they could ruin your job or business; that they could block your career paths.
Most importantly, you must be afraid that they could kill you. That’s what sick governments want.
My university roommate and I had a collection of Martin Luther King audio tapes and speeches. We studied them whenever we were off the books. “If physical death is the price we must pay”, he once said, “to free our children from a permanent psychological death, then nothing shall
Never fear being killed if it is for the course of truth. As in the letter to that soldier in the movie, Letters from Iwo Jima, “do what is right because it is right”. Seek no popularity. Seek not the applause of the multitudes or the favours of your government. Seek only the applause of your conscience.
When you lie back on your bed at the end of a long day, you can enjoy the peace that comes with knowing you have done the right thing. I say to you fellow countrymen and women; never fear. Fine, obey the law and respect authority but never fear. Even where your communication is being interfered with never fear. Fear not your government.
Having said that, I am told there is a new gospel in town. Citizens must lick their way to success. Sycophancy has ceased to be a vice but a virtue. In Mahalapye, where I grew up, if anyone called you lelope, they were guaranteed a fistfight. And we didn’t know half what the word meant. Now, you must be a member of your local KMA club. Merit is the reason for your poverty.
I can imagine sitting with my little boy, looking down upon the clear canvas that is his formative conscience, attempting to write upon it the lessons for success; “Lick boots son, lick them till kingdom come. Do it better than your peers. And you will be a man my son”.
Sorry, I reject that gospel. It is exactly what is wrong with the country today. We have way too much fear and way too many bootlickers.
People can’t look at those in authority and have some honest talk. When men with vile motives seek to hush you they say you have no respect. Respect is earned, not commanded. Only human dignity is conferred at birth. Our notion of respect is a perverted one. One of sycophancy and unqualified obedience.
My kids and I have an understanding. So long as they are respectful, they are free to engage me on any subject and they need not fear anger or reprisals.
My arguments with my 13-year-old girl go into the sunset. True, the last word is always mine, as it must be. I just don’t want her licking boots. Sycophants applaud their own oppression and celebrate every vice of the one to whom their consciences are mortgaged. A sycophant has no soul his own. Fear not, and lick no boots. Fear no man, but God.