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A Reflection On Sir Seretse Khama Day – How Will History Remember Us?

LESEGO NSWAHU NCHUNGA
Observing and honouring Sir Seretse Khama Day was very challenging this year, and in this season.

The struggle was in realising the state we are in, and who we have become.

Although our government has not from what I can recall, wanted to be held accountable for their action, the worst state I have seen it in, is the present. Two days before the public holiday, the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, issued a press release informing the public, that it was the public’s fault that the fuel in the country had run out.

The basis for this, they said, was simple supply and demand - when people discovered that there would be no fuel in the country for some time, people filled their tanks. The COVID-19 task force issued an announcement of their own on the same day indicating, amongst others, that regulations for industries are drafted by the relevant Ministries, and not the task force.

The statements were a clear indication of a lack of consensus. In all of this, we remain invisible. Responses to, and interventions in this season, of the COVID-19 world pandemic, especially lockdown, have interestingly offered us the opportunity to stop and question ourselves and the decisions we have made.

It would seem we are challenged, to our cores – an existential crisis of sorts as individuals, as well as collectively as a community and society, however you view us.

For many of us, in this moment, we have come face-to-face with realities about ourselves, as a nation, and the leaderships we have opted for and whose reign we have sustained, one way or the other. I am not sure that we can say we are happy with what we have observed.

The grunts are loud, even in their subtleties. We of course, remain Batswana – unquestioning and conceding, even when things are just not right. We are not usually a riotous people. One may even say, we are complacent in our go tlaa siama, and our protection of harmful systems and structures. Even when we are angry, we seem to have the management of our anger under control, so well that those who we should communicate it to, already being so far removed from our own realities, are probably oblivious to it.

In this season, however, it is becoming clear there may be those whose ambitions are more important than the promises made to the masses. The rationalisation of de-prioritising the hardships faced by the many for the future comfort of an elite few is terrifying.

Reflection is an essential tool for interrogation. It helps with either coming to terms with the decision made, or with the decision for what to do to change it. Both these possibilities are outrageous. Yet only one is realistic.

What we ought to have realised, with a

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simple example of the news headlines over the past two weeks, is that COVID-19 interventions are political. To be fair, if we agree that the personal is political, then the politics of the interventions go without saying.

It has to be said though, as a way of acknowledging it, and stating that we accept that it is, and that perhaps we had not realised the extent of the politics, when we initially engaged with the interventions.

The late Sir Seretse Khama suggests that “we should write our history books to prove that we have a past and that it was just as worth writing and learning about as any others. We must do this for the simple reason that a nation and a people without a past is a people without a soul.”

History is a reflection on our present times. History does not happen in the past, or in neat chronology, unfolding beautifully as it would when we read about it. It is the present as time passes through it.

In this very moment, with cars in a queue at the filling station while you read this, with many jobs having been lost, increasing the rates of unemployment, and with no long term communicated strategy for economic recovery, this is history creating itself.

We create history, in our every action and inaction. That is why it should be written by us. We have an intimate understanding and appreciation of our present realities, and we have the capacities to build them into histories we want read, histories we want to write.

This is a time to help our leaders become the leaders they promised us they would be – by ensuring that they protect our needs over their own, and that where they fail, we are sufficiently appraised of the reasons for their failures. That is, perhaps the only way that history will not judge us harshly.

The other day I heard Georgina Hobart on web-television drama, The Politician say, “there are jobs that feed the ego; and there are jobs that make a difference. Politics does both. It is vanity without the bitter after taste.”

On Sir Seretse Khama Day, reflecting on this, I realised that many of our politicians, in both the ruling and the opposition parties, have failed to make the necessary differences for our lives to be better. It is disheartening. Our silence would be an acceptance and validation of this.

Is that the legacy we will leave behind? When days are named after the leaders of our time, will they be days of shame and dishonour or will it be days which we will be proud of from our graves, knowing, that the leaders themselves did what we needed them to?



There Are No Others

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