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A story of tenacity

CORRESPONDENT
Story well told: Matlhagela’s new release
It is seldom to find passion, tenacity, focus and willpower residing in one body.

Meet the budding author of Behind the Scenes No More - Samantha Matlhagela who embodies all these virtues.

In a non-fiction inspirational book that has come out of the press plates this week, the daughter of Modise and Victoria Maphanyane has recounted her life in an honest yet most profound way, using simple language, quite the opposite of her father who is given to verbosity, yet her gripping descriptions of the milestones and signposts make for a riveting read. This tale is as tantalising as it is edifying to the soul to read about a life of an ordinary Motswana girl born to a middle-class family, who lived in almost every region of Botswana.

The constant moving grew confusing along the way for Sammy as to her heritage, because as the middle child, she, her sister and brother, had to adapt to every cultural setting their parents were assigned to mould young lives.

If you care for interpersonal relationships, this is the book you should read. Sammy has made her footprint visible in narrating the humble childhood experiences and the innocent worldview of every gullible person who is exposed to both nice and disappointing experiences. Yet she neither sulks nor begrudges anyone, particularly when thrown in the deep end of the customer service in a retail business that believes the ‘customer is always right’ even if it means one who is high-maintenance as yours truly or a snobbish and feisty high-life who lectures over-the-counter on beauty cosmetics as essential in projecting an everlasting impression.

These experiences have become the anecdotes that she dexterously put together as life’s lessons that have propelled her to success.

It is clear that Sammy was raised up a Motswana on formidable social graces of maitseo a seNgwato and seKalaka. It’s these values that sustained her trajectory as a rising star in the financial world, a sector where sheer accident upon completion of her university studies in a completely different field, sealed her destiny. She quickly maximised on the opportunity to learn the ropes in a profit-making corporation, its ethos of valuing the customer as the single reason for existence. And she makes no pretences – Sammy credits her

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mentors and colleagues for handholding her. As with many middle-class young people in the metropolis that Gaborone has become, she does not conceal the social club and inner circles and even where she embellishes the characters in her story, it becomes obvious to the reader that she enjoys the finer things in life and has a taste for class.

The mark of distinction, however, is that those she hangs around with have a propensity to be drunk with perceived success, where Sammy is gregarious and unassuming - staying in touch with the grassroots, and making sure she employs the traditional values to make sense of what modernity might present before her as professional etiquette.

If etiquette and protocol should matter, Sammy teaches us in her book that it should be grounded on those simple yet powerful norms imparted to us at an early age, to respect fellow human beings for who they are, not what they have become. She has not hesitated to break ranks with those who have decided honour was theirs to demand from others.

Readers of this set of books would be inspired that at last, she served them something that should allow all of us to face the mirror and seek answers to some of the necessary questions of how we carry ourselves in private and in public.

Do we ever return gratitude to those who go out of their way to serve us, or we demand entitlements always? The tenacious spirit has found personification in Sammy – her spirit could not be dampened by thugs who broke into her car last year and ran away with a laptop that had the whole manuscript saved on it. It was the biggest test.

Devastated she was, but she needed no telling to regain composure and start all over, even if that set back the release of the book by several months. This is the spirit wired in a natural writer who ignites the fire burning red hot inside of her. This is a story worth telling, and young people should get fired up to share their stories.

Title: Behind the Scenes No More

Author: Samantha Matlhagela

Reviewed By: Enole Ditsheko



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