Monday, March 30, 2020

A broken nation that has no leaders to look up to

Batswana are fast becoming a nation of believers, though in a very unusual and one dare say destructive way.

Their beliefs are not on an omnipotent creator above who cannot be seen.

Rather those beliefs are on two gods who live among us.

The country has been torn asunder, right in the middle. One side believes in the one god, the other side on the other God.

From the look of things each of the gods relishes, nurtures, cultivates and encourages the support shown them.

Obviously the hatred and antipathy between the two gods is intense, mutual and self-fulfilling.

That antipathy spreads down to the believers.

Evidence and facts have proved totally unable to sway either side.

The more the two sides grow apart, the more each celebrates with glees and a sense of fulfilment.

As in every other such battles, the biggest victim, as George Orwell long discovered is the truth.

Each side simply preaches to its converts. Their sermons are consumed like a gospel truth, shouted from up the mountain. And as such the high priests are not worried what the other side might think.

Anybody from the ranks who calls for a truce, or even makes a minor acknowledgement of the other camp is pushed into the wilderness after getting their loyalty diagonised and then questioned.

Ostracism is a constant punishment, meted by each side for any perceived disloyalty to the group.

During that time the offender is actively and often ruthlessly excluded from all internal functions of the camp, including being denied any face time with the Leader.

Any re-admission involves a rigorous ritual; leading members would take their turns making known to the transgressor their collective unhappiness, how the offender has fallen short of expectations,

Readmission only happens once the offender has shown remorse always invariably expressed by publicly desecrating the other side and pointing out what an evil people the other camp is.

No rationality can win.

Each side has long taken a decision to brand those claiming neutrality to be actually spies of the other side. If they are not spies then they are adherent under the carpet.

It is a vicious and self-feeding hysteria.

Flexibility, like pragmatism are internally frowned upon, discouraged and even punished.

Orthodoxy which means a near evangelical worship of the side and its Leader, and coal-red hatred for the other are encouraged and even rewarded.

Scotched earth policy has become the modus operandi, implanted with ever growing zeal.

Rigid adherence to the ethos of one’s side, which put simply means forever saying how bad the other is, carries exhaustive rewards and goodies.

In short, we have become much more than a polarized nation. We are a nation that is forever on a war footing – fighting against itself and doing everything to apportion bad motives to one another.

This is not a panic button, but it is clear that the current generation of leaders is bequeathing the coming ones with a legacy of division and intolerance.

We used to be a nation of people that worked hard to seek one another – in darkness as in confrontation. Not anymore!

We have now become a nation of stormy petrels.

We strive to go further and farther away from each other.

Instead of talking to one another, we are talking at each other.

No effort is made to at least understand one another, even as we disagree.

We are hostages of both love and hate.

Partisan agents and minions on either side are stoking and stretching the enmity.

Sadly, nowadays it makes a front-page story every time Masisi coughs or Ian Khama opens the door of his car.

Small time vanities are tearing our country apart.

Social media is not helping the situation either.

It fuels an already explosive mix with its speed to carry untruths and also the bravado it gives people because of its impersonal nature.

We are a nation in turmoil.

The endless squabble between President Mokgweetsi Masisi and former President Ian Khama has morphed into the clearest symptom of what disease is eating at our nation.

That Khama is even willing to wage this fight is really unfortunate, not least because it is a fight he can never win, no matter the weight he carries behind his name.

It is not clear if he understands it, but his behavior has generally been a great boon to anarchists.

They have milked the situation under the guise of supporting him.

If his attitude is the best he can do under circumstances, one is left with no choice but to question the sincerity of the former president when he spent his tenure preaching patriotism.

Why is he not putting his country first now?

It displays a disappointing betrayal of leadership on his side. Sadly, the other side does not smell of roses.

The no-speak show has now reached a stage not too far from madness.

This week the differences between the two men reached a new low in its absurdity.

We had always known that there was something phony, even petty about their squabble.

But we never for once imagined they could turn this personal.

The State is withdrawing number plates on Khama’s cars.

The reasoning is that he was never supposed to have them, to start with.

They are reserved for the President and the Vice President.

Up to here it sounds pretty straight forward.

For a man so steeped, obsessed and wedded to symbolism, Khama has taken it to the heart.

For him it’s all starkly clear – Masisi is once again sending his boys to get at him

Just what is in a number plate? Any upright outsider would first seek to know. Some explaining would need to be made.

Everything; both Masisi and Khama, it seems would at least on this one answer in unison.

For Khama it is yet another backhanded slap by Masisi to humiliate and take away the former president’s dignity.

The two men might agree on the importance of a number plate. The truth is that this piece of frivolity actually stands as enduring evidence against either of them – central to all of it is each’s inability to rise above a certain bar of pettiness. How damaging!

Of course, Khama would say “I didn’t start this one.”

Masisi would say “it’s all about protocol. The number plates should never have been given to Khama in the first instance. It was an oversight that was long overdue for correction.”

Either one of them might be correct. But is this something worth taking an already bleeding nation through? I doubt it.

Former military generals are already lining up behind their mane. One of them took to social media and said he would die/kill for Ian Khama, or something to that effect.

Predictably, the other side fell on him like a ton of bricks.

And so the bloodletting began all over again, going round and round a mulberry bush.

Masisi/Khama tensions have eroded all value of unity among Batswana.

Neither man has been able to show outwards signs of maturity, forbearance and simply letting bygones be bygones.

There is something abnormal about the Masisi/Khama disagreement.

It highlights the psychological flaws inherent in the two men. Normal people are able to forgive.

Neither Masisi nor Khama has an inner capacity to forgive.

We should be worried of such a trait in a leader.

The country is going through a moment of senseless banality – and is by the way not too far away from self-destruction.

If Batswana are not careful the country will soon reach a point of no return as it doubles down, not to recovery but into failure.

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