As karate bade farewell to one of its favourite sons, Philippe Revaka following his death last week Monday, the nation has been urged to pay close attention to personal issues.
Revaka tragically took his life just days after he turned 21. He was laid to rest in Gaborone on Saturday.
A memorial service was held in his honour at his family’s home in Gaborone on Wednesday where various speakers called for close attention to personal life.
Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) president, Tshepho Bathai spoke about the impact Revaka had and emphasised the need to be ‘our brother’s keeper.’
“He left us at an early age, but he has left a lasting impact. The calls we got from all over bears testimony to this. In karate we are a family, we don’t have too many friends outside the (karate) dojo. My appeal is that we should be there for each other all the time,” Bathai said.
Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) technical director, Bobby Gaseitsiwe said it was key for people to share personal experiences.
“My department at the BNSC is about development, that is why am talking about karate. You are fortunate to have people who have done this sport for many, many years. I encourage you to continue talking to your athletes. Continue sharing your experiences; let your athletes share with you what they feel off the field. That is one key, paramount thing. Let’s not see them as champions in the dojo and forget that they have another life,” Gaseitsiwe said.Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development representative, Tebogo Ntisang said as a result of COVID-19, new personal challenges have emerged in society.
“We are going through a tough time as the world. COVID-19 pandemic, we have never experienced it and we would not know how to go about it. As friends, families, let’s look after each other. Us in sports, arts and culture, we were the first to close and we have not fully re-opened. Most of us in these two sectors, we make a life out of it, so it (COVID-19) has put us under a lot of pressure. Today we are open. Tomorrow we are closed. Let’s look up for each other, especially us in sports. We
Revaka’s aunt, Olivia Britz described Revaka as a special individual and said circumstances around his death were “very tragic.”
“Let us look out for each other. Don’t be afraid to question, don’t be afraid to ask (someone) are you ok? We have lost an absolutely beautiful person,” Britz said.
His friend, Khaya Groth spoke about Revaka’s dedication to karate and recalled an incident when they were overseas.
“We trained and travelled together as a family. I will never forget the one time we travelled together for a tournament in Spain. As he was a little bit younger, he competed before me and most people confused us, as we looked alike. As I walked around the arena, people kept coming to me saying ‘well done, that was beautiful’.
I tried to tell them it was my other teammate, but in the end, I just said ‘thank you very much’. It was easier to say it was me because Philippe was someone you would be proud to be associated with,” Groth said.
Philippe’s coach, Mpho Bakwadi said it was a difficult moment to lose one of his brightest charges.
“Philippe had a very bright future in the karate arena. Having to say goodbye to him so soon is one of the worst things a person can experience in life. Ladies and gentlemen, I expected these boys to be the ones burying me not the other way round,” Bakwadi said.
Revaka had a remarkable karate career in which he won gold in the kata at the 2014 Africa Youth Games, which Gaborone hosted, before another continental title in Cameroon during the 2017 UFAK competitions. He held several other local and international accolades.