I disembarked the train at the Francistown station and hardly had I stepped on the dirt, and I was trudging along the Blue Jacket Street whereupon I chanced upon the street that was the address of The Voice newspaper. It was August 1995.
My mentor; the Rev Timothy Bertsche who had been a long-time missionary in the Ghetto had told me of the new publication in town and that he had put in a good word for me with its Managing Editor; Donald Moore.
I requested to see the managing editor but the lady receptionist told me point-blank that he was not in.
“How about his deputy?”
“They are not here both of them,” she replied, glaring at me from toe to head.
“Let me leave my contacts so Don can call me at his leisure,” I pleaded.
She tossed the used pad. I stepped out of the reception lobby onto the porch of an old English mansion, when I collided with a bubbly woman in a fair age that reminded me of my eldest sister. We exchanged pleasantries when she took a greater interest in who I was.
“My missionary friend has regularly told me of your newspaper, and that you may have a use for me,” I stated my case.
“Rra David, you mean?” she shouted.
Her piercing voice might have hurt my ears.
“Are you the deputy editor?” I asked a bit dazed.
“No, I am the publisher. Don takes care of the language and I print the paper and make sure it is distributed to selling points. We are co-owners.”
“Yes Ma’am, I am familiar with your role as the publisher. Oh, my word, thank you. My name is E…”
“Enole Ditsheko, I know who you are. We have discussed you a lot of times and have been looking forward to your return to join us,” she said with jubilation in her voice.
My jaws dropped. I had not been hired on the spot before.
“Please let us go in,” she beckoned me and up the stairs, we walked back into the reception lobby.
“This is the young man from America. This is Enole,” she stated authoritatively to the receptionist.
She stretched a wide smile across her black lips displaying a set of even, white teeth. Her face glowed all of a sudden, and she rose to her feet and clutched her hand into mine.
“Hello Enole,” she greeted me.
“Hello, again,” I replied.
Beata stood right there in the middle of the room, her eyes darting back and forth.
“Do you guys know each other already?” she asked.
“No,” I was very quick to dissociate myself, lest that cost me a job.
The receptionist shook her head, rather violently. A part of me died to tell Beata how I felt before providence brought us together on the porch.
“Ausi B, I did not know it was Enole…” she explained.
“Or, you would have treated him better, hey? Is that how you should treat visitors coming to the newspaper? What did I say about this business? We are here to receive every member of society and listen to their story. You will never know who you chase away. The next newspaper across the street will scoop us. Ag, I can’t say this too many times,” she said angrily and turned her back as she beckoned me to retreat to her office.
My bosom could have exploded with pride at that moment to have the receptionist taste her own medicine.
But it was our society and its class stratification, treating men and women wearing three-piece suits better than simply dressed folks who seemed like no word of English or sophistry could come out of their mouths.
It did not matter which sector of business one confronted, even the bankers, who should know we come to withdraw or deposit our money, did not behave any better.
Only two strides away from the receptionist and a lanky white man stuck his pale neck out of the other room.
“Hi Don, are you here early today?” Beata enquired.
“I have a meeting with the Mater-Spei students. I needed an early start,” he replied.
“This is Enole,” she introduced me, quite elated.
“Wow! Our capital correspondent has finally arrived,” Don said, stretching out his long arm to greet me.
A rather scruffy young man stormed into Beata’s office without knocking. He held his breath and covered his mouth in utter disbelief of breaking a basic rule.
“Hey Dubani, come on in. What did I say about knocking before you enter? See what I deal with, Enole?”
“Good morning, Sir,” I said.
“Dubani is our fearless reporter, always going places to find human interest stories that no other reporter in this country is able to dig up,” she was proud.
“Very quickly before I go, Enole. I will find time to sit down with you later today if that is okay. But we are after those stories – unusual you may call them. We are like The Mirror in England or People in the United States,” Don explained.
I nodded my head. The rest is history as they say. I was the reporter based in Gaborone. It was tough back then as The Voice owned no vehicle to pick the newspaper from the printing press, let alone transport it to the selling outlets. I owned none either, so I relied on my loving uncle, (may his soul find eternal rest)! Beata would call upon me to ask the Rev Otsile Ditsheko, who was back studying at the university, and the elderly never disappointed to drive
If there was one thing that I could say in eulogising my dear friend, it ought to be the fact that Beata knew no class. She treated everyone with respect that should be accorded fellow human beings.
I thank Jeff Ramsay who invited me to a lunch he hosted around Good Friday 2017, whereupon Beata found me in the cool shade.
The electrifying conversations of intellectuals including Titus Mbuya, Fred Morton, and Jeff remain the last memory I have of her. She loved this country to bits and did not desire to fold her arms in defeat, while it went to the dogs – you ought to be a regular reader of her column; “Born In the Ghetto” to know what I am talking about.
Fare thee well, my mentor, my sister – a gallant fighter of freedom and justice. Finally, you have reached a place that knows no class, and what a perfect match for you. Peace and grace!
Rev Bishop Enole Ditsheko
Botswana Editors Forum saddened by the passing of Kasale
Botswana Editors Forum has learnt with shock and disbelief the passing on of Beata Kasale, Publisher, owner and Chairperson of The Voice newspaper. Beata was a leader, not just of The Voice newspaper, but of Botswana’s entire media industry landscape.
And her presence and contributions will be dearly missed. Beata was a strong-willed personality. She was a champion of press freedom. Her dedication to press freedom had over the years earned her an internationally acclaimed reputation and recognition, by both Government and the private sector. During her lifelong active role in the media, she participated in the creation of such organisations like MISA, Publishers Forum, Press Council of Botswana and the Botswana Editors Forum. Beata was passionate about journalism. She was equally passionate about fairness, insisting that while holding those in power accountable, the media should strive to do so with fairness. Beata was an icon and mentor to many journalists, especially female journalists who she frequently complained that they remained disproportionately under-represented in the industry. Over the years Beata has proved herself to be a shrewd and resourceful businesswoman, growing The Voice from a little Francistown based paper, to a national market leader that it is today.
She was also a visionary as shown by her early determination that the future of the media is digital, and then going on to deploy her force of personality to take The Voice newspaper along that path.
Today The Voice is by far Botswana’s biggest leader on the ongoing digital transformation happening in the media industry. She had also dedicated her life to training female journalists.
She passionately resisted and fought all stereotypes perpetuated against women in the media.
And her role was beginning to bear fruits as shown by the growing number of graduates from her training programmes who are assuming positions of responsibility in newsrooms across various southern African countries. Beata believed in social justice as shown by her past involvement in economic empowerment of the people of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
Most importantly, Beata was a mother, a wife, a sister and a grandmother. We pray for her soul to find eternal peace.
*Spencer Mogapi is chairperson of Botswana Editors Forum
Rest in peace Beata Kasale
Hey! It’s with real shock to learn about the passing away of a colleague in the media, best friend and a carer, Beata Kasale. I have known Kasale since the 1990s but we became closer when I was working as a country manager at Gender Links from 2009 to 2014, when I retired.
She had a passion for gender and media. Hers, The Voice, was one of the media houses who opened their newsrooms to mainstreaming gender in the workplace. What I will remember her about is that she was able to facilitate the media Gender Policy in some private media houses, The Voice, Yarona FM and Gabz FM. The formation of this media policy was critical as it was a commitment of ensuring that gender parity makes news. Because of Beata’s passion for gender, she gave me a free column to write about women in politics, those who won seats in the 2014 general elections. We managed to publish 12 profiles of women across the political divide. As a newly-established Keabonye Ntsabane Trust on Gender Based Violence, she has been supportive as she volunteered her niece to design a logo for the Trust for me. Beata was always there for me, even during difficult times.
I had spare office at The Voice newspaper office, just to access emails for free. She had a motherly love and her children also have a good heart like the mother. I will miss the lunch at the farm, the smile she always gave me and financial assistance.
Thank you for the special wall frame present from The Voice. May the Lord give you rest.
*Keabonye Ntsabane is the GBV Trust founder