Motshidisi laid to rest

Dark days: Mourners at Motshidisi's funeral. PIC: BONTE SEEPI
Dark days: Mourners at Motshidisi's funeral. PIC: BONTE SEEPI

PALAPYE: Thousands of mourners attended the burial of veteran labour activist, political icon and Palapye Tribal Authority headman, Kgosi Klaas Kebotse Motshidisi, at Lotsane ward over the weekend.

Motshidisi, a former Commissioner of Labour, passed away two weeks ago at Bokamoso Private Hospital in Gaborone after a brief admission following a short illness.

Former president, Festus Mogae, Palapye legislator, Moiseraele Goya, various cabinet ministers, labour leaders, leaders and members of his party, Botswana National Front (BNF), as well as representatives from the former armed wing of South Africa’s African National Congress, Umkhonto Wesizwe, were among the mourners.

According to his family, Motshidisi’s death was a shock because his illness did not take long.

Emotional scenes were scarce at the funeral, as many people appeared determined to celebrate Motshidisi’s illustrious life.

Only Motshidisi’s wife, children and grandchildren showed emotion and broke into tears at the cemetery.

Palapye District Commissioner, Veronica Rabakane described Motshidisi as a very bright and smart man who would argue his point to the letter. She also described him as an exceptional record keeper who loved his culture and village development. 

“Kgosi Motshidisi was also a loving husband. I am saying that because just last month he took his wife out to celebrate Valentine’s Day, something that is rarely done by people of his age.

“He was also his own wife’s nurse and when he returned from work, he would give her pills and something to eat. We will always remember him,” Rabakane said.

Kgosi Mokhutshwane Sekgoma from Ngwato Tribal Authority told mourners that Motshidisi was among the lobbyists for a job description for Dikgosi.

“We will never forget Klaas for the reputation that he has given Dikgosi. Klaas fought for Bogosi. He contributed to the manner in which Dikgosi are perceived in society today.

“He knew all the histories of all tribes in Botswana and he was our big asset when it came to solving tribal issues. We even gave him a nickname ‘Gabolwelwe’ due to how he used to resolve tribal matters,” Sekgoma said.

Sekgoma further described Motshidisi as a humble and kind-hearted individual who was always eager and ready to assist those he worked with. He said Motshidisi was a proud African who was a big agent of change.

“Motshidisi was with the Tribal Administration from 2007 until the time he parted from us, but his impact was quite noticeable within the period of time that he served as the Headman of Arbitration. We will always remember him in the tribal administration,” added Sekgoma.

MP Goya recalled how he had received a call from the District Commissioner stating that Motshidisi had been airlifted to Bokamoso Private. He said that he intended to check him the next morning, but was saddened to find out that the veteran activist had passed away.

“Motshidisi was a great opposition leader and he was patient in setting out his logic. He was one of the pioneers of trade unionism in Botswana and was determined to fight tirelessly to improve work conditions. We will always remember him for his visionary leadership,” said Goya. Motshidisi’s daughter, who is also the founder of Kopano Rehabilitation Centre in Palapye, Leokane Bogatsu said the family had lost a hero.  She said her father was a man of integrity and he had taught them well.

“My father called a spade a spade and he despised people who were weak. He was extremely intelligent. He set for us an example of what a family means; he was an example of true love as he managed to spend 54 years of his life happily married to his wife.

“They were always together unless my mother was not well,” said Bogatsu.

She urged mourners to continue being united even after the death of her father, urging thoughts to be spared for her mother, Mma Motshidisi.

Motshididi’s friend and former BNF president, Otsweletse Moupo took mourners to 1965 when the party was formed.

He said Klaas was also instrumental in the formation of the country’s first nationalist party, the Botswana People’s Party.

Moupo also reminded mourners that Motshidisi stood against the country’s founding president, Seretse Khama in 1965 when Botswana was still called Bechuanaland Protectorate.

“Motshidisi was elected by less than 100 people while Khama was elected by more than 4,000 voters but Motshidisi still stood strong. He did not give up on politics and opposition membership. People like him are few and we will always celebrate him,” said Moupo. Motshidisi is survived by his widow, five children, sixteen grandchildren and eight great grand children.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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