International women’s day has come and gone. It was a day for reflections on how far have we, as a nation celebrated the role of women in nation building and their contribution to all spheres of public life.
I pen this opinion piece, consumed by frustration and disappointment that my country has up to date refused to bind itself to the famous SADC Protocol on Gender and Development. It is indeed a missed opportunity for the heroines of our country who continue to play a crucial, yet unnoticed role in our lives and that of the nation. It will be selfish of me to honour my mother exclusively without appreciating other women who continue to fight male domination, patriarchy and economic exclusion of women in Botswana. I solemnly dedicate this piece to celebrate the unsung heroines of Botswana National Front and opposition politics of Botswana. These are women who have denied themselves and their families the comfort and pleasures of association that come with being apolitical or being a member of the ruling class. These women have been in the frontlines of the political battles against a neo-liberal machinery of the BDP. Surely, these unsung heroines deserve a special recognition and tribute.
Let me first pay tribute to one of the founders of our great political party in Comrade Pretty Molefhe. The first woman to serve in the BNF politburo. She refused to be ignored and side-lined by her male counterparts in the treacherous political field. Comrade Molefhe ignored cultural and gender stereotypes to actively participate in the BNF and made her voice to be heard. This woman of substance is the embodiment of a woman who all aspiring feminists should emulate. Special tribute goes to Dr. Kathleen Letshabo, a fierce woman who stood for what she believed in. She opposed all forms of discrimination on the basis of gender. Dr. Letshabo dared to raise her voice, even if it was unpopular within the BNF. The contribution of Comrade Same Bathobakae cannot go unnoticed. She has been the pillar and bedrock of the mighty BNF in Tlokweng for many years. Comrade Bathobakae is a woman of steel and has held several leadership positions in the BNF. Surely, she has not disappointed. It was not by fluke that she was elected as the first female MP for the opposition. The motherly role that she continues to play to all of us in the BNF is remarkable and inspiring. She has largely contributed to the unification of the party and assisting in the administrative machinery of the party.
It will be a tragedy not to pay a special tribute to Comrade Mmabatshidi Segwabe. She has sacrificed her entire life to the BNF. She has been there for the party in turmoil and happiness. She gets things done at the party head office. Her conviction and dedication to the organisation is beyond comprehension. I could go on and on to mention the great women of our organisation. Comrade Naledi Akambakamba has been remarkable in making sure that Gaborone Central is vibrant. She has nurtured most of us who graduated at the University of Botswana. Comrade Chimela, Keitseng, Shadikong, Mogalakwe and all the mothers of the BNF, I pay tribute and appreciation for your sacrifices and contribution in BNF and Botswana opposition politics. It is your guidance that continues to unite and wove us together as a party.
Despite the insurmountable challenges that continue to face women in general, you have stood the test of time. You have taught us resilience and dedication to one’s political beliefs. We will carry your names and legacy to our maker. Unsung as you are, you remain heroines of the BNF and the nation.
Kago Mokotedi- BNF Cadre based in Pretoria, RSA.