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A tribute to Jerry Serero

Remembered: Serero
A few weeks ago, I hosted four relatively young and highly-spirited Tlokweng tribespeople serving in the Committee preparing for the 140 years of Batlokwa settlement in Moshaweng (current Tlokweng Village) from Tshwene-Tshwene in South Africa.

The purpose was to share ideas and consider what could be some high-impact activities leading to the celebrations of this historical event after the current State of Emergency.

The name Jerry Serero cropped up. We will revisit the reason for the mention of his name later in this article.

Before Botsalano Primary School, there was only one other primary school in Tlokweng being the Batlokwa National School. Mafitlhakgosi came on stream in 1978. Anybody who attended Botsalano Primary School in Tlokweng circa 1970s to early 1990s will remember the school principal, Jerry Serero. The majority will remember him in awe just at the mention of his name. He was Thichere Serero.

Serero passed away on October 15, 2020 apparently succumbing to injuries after a road accident on September 4.

Serero, the teacher I know, was blessed with exceptional intellect, a memory of an elephant, an exceptional listener, a community builder of exceptional social skills.

Serero became a teacher when corporal punishment was accepted in schools. It was at times abused by some then. He was different. He believed in counselling his pupils.

Until his departure, he would remember almost all those who had passed through his school by name and the year they completed their primary schooling. He was amazing. I admired him for this feat.

A devout Methodist, he had passion for reading and he would read anything he came across, including the weekly Printing and Publishing Company sales magazine, The Advertiser. We shared a love for the South African Farmers Magazine, ‘The Farmers Weekly’, which he read religiously. We would touch on the current news events every time we met, though regrettably, always briefly. He was up-to-date. 

He held education highly. He respected, took keen interest and admired his brilliant former students. I want to believe he expressed this love of education to his family in deeds.

His house at the Teachers Quarters was always full of his nieces and nephews. To some extent, some should have been members of his extended family sent to attend Botsalano Primary School.

I am not certain when this Matsiloje native first arrived in Tlokweng, but I want to believe it was in 1972. Since then, he never permanently left Tlokweng. His sojourn in England for studies and the Selebi-Phikwe Region on transfer, always saw him returning to the village.

He adopted the village as his forte. He had adopted the Batlokwa customs. He had immersed himself in all the Tlokweng culture and was never considered an outsider. He was a tribesman.

There was an occasion with my nephew and former Member of Parliament for Tlokweng, Olebile Gaborone, when some Batlokwa complained about the shortage of land in the village and the fact that vast parcels of land in their territory were in the hands of ‘Batswakwa’ contributing almost nothing to village development.

In response and I guess in defence of the

status quo, Gaborone cautioned about labelling the so-called outsiders as ‘all bad’. “I don’t think anybody amongst you would stand up and refer to Rre Serero as an outsider – as he has contributed more than some tribespeople in the development of Tlokweng”. Jerry was highly regarded.

He served in the Village Development Committees – VDC (before membership of these committees became paying assignments).

He served with semi-literate volunteers. Like a disciplined teacher of yesteryear, he abhorred alcohol, he disliked unruly behaviour of the young. Just a year ago, he confessed to me to have never having set his foot in a bar in his lifetime.

I am not sure he ever thought I indulged at times.

Back to the meeting of young men hosted at my house. I ask that I be pardoned for mentioning this. There was a discussion about developing a Batlokwa Wall of Fame bearing the names of historical and current village stalwarts who contributed significantly to the development of Tlokweng in the last 140 years.

The name Jerry Serero, a non-tribesperson, was amongst the first 10 mentioned of the living legends. I am not sure who amongst the five beside myself ever attended Botsalano Primary School to know Serero and find him a deserving candidate for the honour. He had endeared himself in the hearts of the young and old.

Jeremiah Tlharipe Serero, fourth born child of Ishmael Mokonenyana Serero and Motlagomang Annie Serero (nee Moleme) was born on February 10, 1947.

His nephew Tiro Serero, also a teacher, says about his only uncle: “…Ke Mokwena oa ga Molopyane (Ke motho oa ga Mokonenyana, tshoana oa di tsoa yale ka batsoala makgabe, ke motho oa ga Tlharipe oa ngoato ka kgagoga, ka kgagoga ka tsoa mokga…) …setlogolo sa Kubung.”

Serero started his primary education at Matsiloje and proceeded to Moeng College. He trained as a teacher at Lobatse Teacher Training College. Upon completion of his training, he taught briefly at Matsiloje Primary School before moving to Botsalano where he rose to the post of School Head.

He wanted to decline the post on account of being young, but was urged by the senior women, who dominated the staff roll, adds Tiro. I can attest to the issue of senior women – a discussion for another day.

After Botsalano, he had a short stint at Batlokwa National Primary School before being deployed to the Department of Primary Education to train school managers based at Tlokweng Education Centre.

This is where I used to stop him and chat as an adult many years after Botsalano. My place was just a stone’s throw away from the centre. His last civil service days were at the Selebi-Phikwe Regional Education Office where he retired in 2007.

He will be laid to rest in Gaborone, Phomolong Cemetery on October 24. Rest in Peace Thichere Serero.


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