There is pain and disappointment. There is crying and gnashing of teeth. Like death it was all undesired. Yet, it was all foreseeable. The four-year cyclic season of rejection and heartache had been long coming.
Now it has come and gone and hearts are rent apart and bleeding. Men and women feel hard done. Many feel betrayed. Dreams are shattered. But even for the many who have survived Bulela Ditswe, it is just interim relief. We will be back here next year; with more body bags.
It is not an easy thing to lose a contest. I should know that. I have had my fair share of battles. Sometimes I have thought that success was inevitable. Then “BANG….!”, it all came falling down like a house of cards. I have looked at unsmiling court judges, choking in emotion, beneath faces soaked in anger.
I have seen death spelt in their frowns as they strained against the humanly emotion to let live. I have looked at a client for whose life I had pleaded and watched him as he received news that he had lost his last shot at mercy.
I have known that he was a changed man. But I could never convince the world about it. Not even the best of us. And I have woken up to hear that he had been hanged. Yes, I have been there.
It is hard to describe the feeling when the work of many months or years, done with the best intentions, comes tumbling down. It is hard when you have to explain to a man that a system that never forgave any of his kind might just forgive him. Yet, the hands of the clock march on. Everyday, I wake up to win or to lose.
I must find in me the fortitude to walk out through my door and to face the world again. I must dream one more time and believe that I can still be of relevance all against the evidence of my losses. I must still hope and strive for that one victory that will change my fortunes. There is no other way.
Sometimes I know even before I leave the office what the outcome will be. I know it when a Magistrate approaches a case open mindedly.
I know it when a Magistrate is seething with prejudice. Sometimes I don’t see defeat coming. It hits me like a bolt out of the blue. Suddenly, I am lying supine, clinging to nothing but hope.
In life you lose fairly sometimes. Sometimes you lose unfairly. But when the stakes are high, a loss is a loss. It hurts all the same. It is when friends betray you that you grow wiser.
You learn that people
If you have not been out there in the world, and faced its hostilities, you haven’t lived. I am reminded of the words of a wise man. Who was it that said he would rather be counted amongst the tried and failed that to be found among simpletons who live in the grey, knowing neither victory nor defeat? Remind me.
Many lost over the weekend. These are victims of an electoral lottery. They have served as best as they could, driven by nothing but love for their country. They have given their country their all. Yet the doors were slammed on their faces. They have been rejected all the same. Well, maybe not. Maybe someone was simply chosen over them. Just that it is no consolation to come second in a winner takes all game.
There is a need to understand that “we differ so much because we all love our country so much”.
There is always another way. If you are driven by genuine considerations of service to our wonderful country; if you would step outside the darkness of your loss and disappointment, and try and look at it all from critical distance. You might just find another cause worth dying for.
Some have said to me, Kgosi why don’t you contest a political seat. I have always imagined how much an honour it would be to represent my people in Parliament. Maybe I will try it one day.
Who knows. But I have refused to believe that politics are the only area from which I can serve. I have grander dreams for them of which politics could well be an impediment. I don’t need to be in parliament to serve much as I would consider it an honour to be there.
I don’t need to be in parliament to be a voice for my community. Neither do you. We can serve from wherever we are. Look around you, fellow citizen.
Botswana is an open constituency. You are the delimitation commission. You need no election to serve. You do not need a parliamentary floor to serve.
You just need love. And, “love is not a feeling but an act of your will”. Find a cause worth dying for. Just serve. If you cannot serve from private ranks, you were never worthy of public office.