With three lockdowns in her rear-view mirror, Lady P was like a cable stretched too tight and beginning to fray.
But Lady P is not the type to twist into all kinds of pretzels to pacify thirsty masses. Unflinching and ramrod straight, she reminded me exactly of Margaret Thatcher when she stuck to her guns over the poll tax in the face of strong and even violent public protest. A friend once aptly described her in this way. He said “take the smallest nail in the hardware store and try to bend it, that’s Lady P.”
Every time she stood out to speak in Parliament, there was a collective weight of expectation for the big announcement. Some certain sections of the population were on a month-long BTV vigil in the hope that the big announcement would be made. Whenever a lady voice said ‘Procedure Mr Speaker’ we all hoped it was Lady P and she would make the big announcement.
Parliament could be discussing youth empowerment programmes and when a lady voice rings out ‘Order Mr Speaker’ we’d expect that to be Lady P and she would be making the big announcement.
Parliament could be discussing the National Dieselium Fund (the National Petroleum Fund is now seemingly out of fashion) and we’d still expect Lady P to stand up and make the big announcement. Parliament could be discussing the amount of brine in braai-packs and we’d still expect her to make the grand announcement.
Lady P had turned BTV into a must-watch television – a feat that BTV could only dream of before. Some days the vigils were very deflating. You could watch BTV for three days and she would not say a word. You just hoped she’d just stand up to say something and perhaps even slip into grand announcement mode.
There was an attempt to pummel her into submission by exerting pressure through a meme campaign, but that did not get very far as the meme factory was shut down amidst a welter of uncreative copywriting and poor management. The memes petered into the
Anne Boleyn once said “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” I am not questioning the behaviour of Lady P, but I am tempted to believe that at one point she was ploughing a lonely furrow against 2 999 999 citizens of the country as the pressure to lift the alcohol ban reached a crescendo. This is something that the history books will one day acknowledge and chronicle in The 2020 Covid-19 War: The Botswana Story which is a publication that must be quickly gathering steam on some history professor’s laptop. History always recognises heroes and Lady P will feature prominently on these types of publication. There will probably be more pages dedicated to Lady P than the COVID-19 Task Force.
One day, though, as the bootleggers were rubbing their hands in glee and their two-digit cash registers struggled to contain the ill-gotten gains, Lady P dropped a bombshell and wiped the smile off the bootleggers’ faces. Booze joints will open immediately. Lady P was immediately catapulted to cult status. More people started claiming they were somehow related to her or have some sort of friendship going on.
I, too had briefly been in the same group with Lady P at tertiary and I made sure every person I came in contact with knew this very important piece of information - stark contrast from a few weeks ago when I was in the chorus that wanted her to burn at the stake. As the trumpets were brought out, the parched-throat crew even suggested she be declared Minister of Alcohol. As the sobriety quickly disappeared in alcohol fumes there were even suggestions that Lady P be the next president. And when people start talking like this, it is an increasingly rapid flashing light that should be watched with great seriousness as it just might rub Lady P the wrong way – something the people don’t want.
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