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How Can Batswana Be Happy Amidst So Much Sadness?

President Mokgweetsi Masisi PIC. THALEFANG CHARLES
Botswana is amongst the top 10 least happiest countries on earth according to the 2019 World Happiness Report published last week. Staff Writer THALEFANG CHARLES identifies factors that make the country unhappy

The annual World Happiness Report is an United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network publication that ranks 156 countries by variables that support well-being, including GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, social freedom, generosity and absence of corruption.

The laidback little nation of about three million people is a sad one according to the report. Batswana are in the sad lot of unhappiest nations alongside people from war torn countries, mean dictatorships and extremely poor.

Botswana has dropped two places down from the 2018 report and is now ranked 148 out of 156 countries beating countries like Syria, Malawi, Yemen, Rwanda, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Central African Republic and South Sudan.

But how can the nation really be happy when even the President is not a happy man? President Mokgweetsi Masisi must be the only Head of State in the history of Botswana who is having an unhappiest first year as President. “Masisi o jeswa boPresident bosula,” one social commentator observed. 

How can the nation be happy when the President is having an unhappiest presidency? Instead of inspiring and uniting the nation Masisi is busy fighting for political survival within his own party.

He is facing a tough challenge to stay as President just a year in the office. The way things are looking at the moment, Masisi could be kicked out of ruling party presidency before his face could even appear on the P10 note. How can the nation be happy when the former president Ian Khama is so sad like that? Khama was 12 months ago touring the country bidding Batswana farewell and telling them how happy and content he was of his successor. He is now an angry and regretful man who is fighting to remove Masisi from power.

Khama has even gone back to Serowe where he  asked for help in removing Masisi from the seat. He was shown on SABC almost tearful reporting that the things are turning for worse in Botswana. The man looked so genuine in his concerns, especially as the interviewers chose to conduct the interview without any facial make-up.

This made Khama’s wrinkles and oily face him look like he was really distressed and crying out for Botswana. The whole situation is just sad.

How can the nation be happy when the opposition is so weak that it is even taking sides in the raging war within the BDP without focussing on their quest to usurp state power? Since 2014, opposition parties have gone from alternative government to further fragmented parties that have seen more people disillusioned and uninspired about voting in General Elections.

How can the nation

be sad when bubbly people like Member of Parliament for Tati East, Samson Guma Moyo and businessman Bakang Seretse are no longer laughing? Moyo has since fled the country claiming that the government agents want to kill him.

For those who have seen Moyo happy will attest that his hearty laughter alone could tip the happiness scale for Botswana. But now the man is no longer laughing and is in the brigade that is out to remove the President from the seat.

Even for those who know Seretse, from inside those elegant Gaborone joints, will tell you that he was always a happy generous man. His infectious laughter too could have probably pushed up Botswana a few places above the happiness list.

How could Batswana be happy with so much social media bullying? How can the youth be happy when that merciless Youth of Botswana (YoB) group on Facebook is still there? That group can be a mean bully. There are cases of Facebook users who are currently undergoing counselling as a result of the heart-wrenching wrath from that group. The group makes the ongoing war between the Goons and Fear Fokol look like storm in a teacup.

YoB is like a motley crew of angry Batswana where the participants revel at killing characters and making everyone sad. So maybe we will keep dropping down the happiness ladder as long as the YoB is excelling at their mass character assassinations. How can Batswana be so happy when alcohol, and internet are still this expensive? Masisi extended the hours of entertainment but did nothing on the alcohol prices.

Botswana invested millions of pula in the undersea cable to enhance the country’s connectivity, but Batswana still pay a lot just to post one cool Instagram selfie.

Zebras on the other hand have relegated to the days of Whipping Boys of Africa. With their uninspiring Umbro kit that looks like they are on a zebra tie and suspenders, the national team is failing to bring happiness to Batswana.

How can the nation be happy when the national team is such a loser?

These sorrows might not be the variables that landed us in the top unhappiest nations in the World Happiness Report but surely small things like a grocery shop assistant angrily shouting ‘password’ because your money is short, or the angry shouts and hooters you get because you delayed by two seconds after the traffic light turned green, are clear signs that we are just an unhappy lot and too far from Finland which has been ranked the happiest nation twice in a row.


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