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Bring back our land

We have a problem in our hands. A big one. The people must rise and claim their land back. We cannot continue to be willfully blind to the colonial injustice that is the land question.

We cannot afford to pretend that it is a problem peculiar to Zimbabwe and South Africa and that Batswana have not been dispossessed.

We have in fact been dispossessed. In the waning years or months of colonial rule, the retreating government secured its thieving subjects land rights over vast tracts of Botswana territory.

Yes, I said thieving subjects. Were I to put it any differently, important context would be lost; the fact that the land of which I speak is a proceed of serious colonial crime. Tell me the occupiers bought the land from Batswana. 

Tell me the amount for which Tati land was purchased. Show me the contract.

Tell me Batswana land was up for sale by indigenous tribes at any point in history and that anyone who may have claimed to buy it didn’t himself buy it from a thief. 

The British invented and imposed a land tenure system that guaranteed white settlers eternal ownership of our land. Yes, 999 years and I mean that literally.

Such an obscenity abides to date and is a sad reality of our present condition. They could just as well have made it a thousand but that would have given away the obscenity. The sad thing is that the politicians consider it a non-issue.

A nation was ransomed into losing its land in exchange for independence.  Our land has been stolen and that is supposed to be water under the bridge.

The colonial legacy remains. Spooky characters, who had done nothing to develop our country, now hold vast tracts of land they don’t need or live in.

Their descendants are auctioning it all in the market under the protective umbrage of colonially imposed legislation. All this is done from the safety of distance.

Botswana cities and villages are unable to grow and squeal under swelling populations whilst the people’s land lie in private hands. It is time to get the land back.

The Tati Act must be repealed. It could well be that the imperative of independence was such that so expensive a concession had to be made.

Yes, over and above legislation, the British drew up our Constitution and coined elaborate provisions intended to make land recovery as painful an exercise as possible.

I will not judge those who negotiated our independence for having made such concessions. Sometimes it’s the bigger picture that must be looked it.

But I dare say that the situation is no longer sustainable. Francistown offers a good point of reference and I am happy that Moyo Samson Guma finally did

raise this subject. Gaborone too.

If I ever stop singing the national anthem, it will be over the land question. I say that there is no real land shortage in Gaborone or Francistown or anywhere for that matter.

There is only a lack of political will to get Batswana land back. Our post-colonial leaders have betrayed us and are complicit by silence.

It is time for Batswana to demand their own back.  Of course I run the risk of being described as nationalist; even xenophobic. I confess. On the singular question of land, I am a nationalist. On everything else I am as liberal as they come. Xenophobic? NO. I am talking land, not people.

If I had my way, the land would be expropriated without compensation. Just as the Economic Freedom Fighters are demanding in South Africa. It can only be fair that way. But I know I would be pushing my luck there. We would be a basket case before the winter.

The west would consign us to worse than Venezuelan status. We would soon have an inflation rate of one million percent. When it comes to stolen territory, they can be ruthless. We need to be pragmatic about it.

If we have to compensate these people for the land that was stolen from us, we might just have to do it.

It is called a ransom. You have encountered that word before. The simple question is how much we should pay considering that we are redeeming our own property from a colonial black market and unbridled blackmail.

Of course, it would make sense to start off with amending the Constitution to make the exercise less painful. The principle of “adequate compensation” must be redefined. It's stolen land; period. We cannot afford to be too nice.

As such, the beneficiaries of rapine must acknowledge their status.

I say we amend the Constitution, identify all colonially stolen land and only pay 10% of what the land is worth in the open market. That should be enough to usher the present beneficiaries of the colonial largesse out. Call me crazy, I really don’t mind. It is my land and I want it back.

Tati Land, amongst others, must be reclaimed and the people of the North East must have their heritage back. The Francistown situation is totally unacceptable.

Batswana must rise and demand their land back.

All colonial legislation enacted to protect the largesse of theft and rapine must be repealed. Consultations must begin with the beneficiaries. Bring back our land.

Chief On Friday



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