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A requiem for the founder of Botsalo Hotel

PALAPYE: The founder of Botsalo Hotel, now Cresta Botsalo, is no more.

Botsalo Nsunge, whose story is one of rags to riches was also the Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) former councillor for Lotsane Ward in Palapye.

He was a man of humble origins, who achieved greatness but never wanted to be associated with it.

A self-made man, not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, worked his way to the summit of the league.  When on top, he never looked down upon those who were at the basement struggling to make ends meet. He never blew his own trumpet.

Nsunge’s name is synonymous with work. He dedicated his entire 81 years of existence to work, juggling his time between family, farming and business. The family looked forward to a day when he would retire and sit back and enjoy the fruit of his labour. That time never came. He never retired and never thought of retiring. This is because his mission was work, his name was work, his name was business.

Nsunge’s business life kept him on his toes and he was always on the road driving now and then between Palapye and Gaborone to gauge and monitor progress at his various business assignments and tasks. This is a man who knew how to juggle between various duties demanding his attention.  He was an all-rounder, who acquitted himself well in several fields. He was a devoted family, our mother’s pillar of strength, a caring and loving husband, father and grandfather, a great and passionate farmer who never delegated his farming responsibilities, personally ensuring that the needs of his farming business were sufficiently attended to.

That he was a shrewd and frugal entrepreneur cannot be in doubt. He has left an indelible mark in the hospitality industry, farming and property development.  A visionary who was always ahead of his time.  Early in his life, he ventured into the hospitality industry at a time when it was not a fashionable business for locals.  He is indeed a pacesetter in this regard.  A passionate property developer, he dedicated his energies and resources to this area, especially in the latter part of his life. This is a man who defied all odds including old age.  

Nsunge could be likened to the biblical sacrificial lamb. He always placed the good of others ahead of his own.  Selfless service was the driving motivation. For 81 years he endured the discomfort of working like a slave not to secure his personal comfort but to ensure that those around him lived well-cushioned and comfortable lives.  He built a great empire but never wanted the crown, but he remained a servant of the people, firmly rooted in the trenches as a foot soldier.

He led a quiet life and if he

had to speak he was a man of few words. He fully embraced the adage that actions speak louder than words. He did not like noise, merrymaking sessions, parties and beer and wine drinking spots. He made no secret of his detestation of alcohol. He shunned the limelight and never sought attention.  He was not a free spender (a clear indication of an astute, frugal, and shrewd businessman). He never drove luxury automobiles, simplicity was the name of the game. He should have been associated with the Rolls Royce, Lexus, Lamborghinis of this world but he was not interested. But being a good husband, he always made sure that his wife, Mma Dimpho got a better deal in terms of cars. He was only content with his simple delivery vans, red double cab Colt and white Toyota Hilux. He used simple vehicles to establish a complex empire of luxuries that he did not want for himself.  To the surprise and dislike of those who cared about him he usually took time to retire his bakkies even when clearly worn out. He kept on pushing them to the limit. He was not interested in buying and wearing expensive clothes and perfumes. He never talked about his possessions unless asked or required to do so.  These are rare traits for successful people. 

He offered himself for community service as a councillor for Lotsane ward under the ticket of the BDP.  His motivation for joining politics was service and sacrifice. And he gave more to politics and more than politics gave to him. Botswana’s democracy as many might be aware is not funded by the government but thrives on individual sacrifices and contributions. So generous was he that he used his own resources to sponsor not only his campaign but also that of his colleagues.   His role in shaping the fortunes of the BDP in Palapye, nurturing Botswana’s then fledgeling democracy and building a better Botswana is quite clear and profound.

A giant has fallen, the family is mourning, and our hearts are broken. But we take solace in the fact that this was a life well spent and well-lived. Like Biblical Paul, he could well say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4: 7).  For us as a family, our only contribution is to maintain and keep his legacy going. Of course, the shoes are too big, but there is no doubt that his scions will be equal to the task of upholding the name of this monumental man.

Five children, 12 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren survive him. May his soul find eternal peace.


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