Sunday, September 24, 2023

A Tribute to Leinanyana Tsiane ÔÇô What a life!

It’s been a month now since Leinanyana Tsiane was laid to rest. To be specific, it was on a Sabbath, 29th July 2016, year of our Lord. I was honoured to be one of the speakers at the memorial service organized by her peers from the media industry, two days before the funeral, on a Thursday. Somehow, I had thought, just like I did with many others, I would bury her, cool off and continue with my normal life.

But fate wouldn’t permit. The period between 2014 elections and her last breath, revealed a rare personality in Leina, both at professional and personal levels. So a normal life would certainly have become unimaginable and pretty much a dark horse at a loss of such a valuable asset. Call it opportunism or anything I will not fault you, but my interest on holding firm to Leina was, more to do with securing a space within the media realm that I badly needed for my 2014 campaign trail and beyond. So media persons were key in this regard. And Leinanyana by virtue of playing her media role in my constituency became that person. 

Today (27thAugust), driving at my usual speed, from a UDC rally at Botlhapatlou in Letlhakeng/Lephephe constituency, I just couldn’t stop thinking about my life interactions with Leina.  With my hands loosely placed on top of the steering wheel, I was there, counting my fingers, trying to figure out what exactly I was supposed to do after the rally. My count, in time, arrived at two events: Kings Rantao’s wedding and BNF Youth League fundraising braai. All these two haddominated my priorities for the weekend. Kings, in particular had requested me to at least attend the church service at 9am before the rally. But instead, considering I needed more time at the wedding, I thought doing the rally first was the best option.

But now driving quickly past all the cars, at around 8pm, reality crept in that I would not make it for the wedding. But how about the reception? I asked myself. Thoughts poured in, helter skenter, suggesting this and that, interrupted now and then by calls from my close friend, councilor Cde Yellowman Kgosietsile, advising me to at least attend the braai event. At this time, it was clear my mind and heart had gotten into a fierce clash. 

After writing an apology note to Kings, a reasonable friend and comrade, and convinced the young lads at the youth league would understand, I took my laptop, it was already 930pm, and started recollecting my thoughts about a life that was in the person of Leinanyana Tsiane. 

Dear readers: have you ever imagined that human life is both a favour, magic and gift from God? If not, think about it today;how the head, legs, heart and all the like develop in the womb. From a helpless infant to an adultwith the ability to talk and a conscious mind to reason. A clear magic by design, isn’t it?Because God could have limited His creation to animals of instinct but He decided otherwise. He instead favoured man by giving him the gift of power and authority to wield full privilege over everything that moves on earth. Simply put: to lead the world.We talk but animals can’t. The list is endless. In fact magic or miracles is the engine of creation. Yet death has come to score cheap points by claiming these favours from us, sometimes in the most cruel and inhuman manner possible. Leina, like many others, succumbed to this death’s trap, which spares no one either. So what?

What a good question. Simple answer: so we need to dishonoUr death, by every way possible. Throughrecollection of the positives about the lives of the dead; archive them and; re-tell them to inspire humanity in general. This is the innate leitmotif that has inspired this article. Leina might have gone but her good memories still live. In the arc of her life, I saw a talented media cult figure from Molepolole whose voice at Radio Botswana had captivated the hearts of many, young and old, for a longtime but who I hadcome to meet for the first time in October 2014.

Quite frankly, I learnt a lot about Leina at her funeral. “So this was real”, from time to time I would nod in agreement, as I contrast the speeches from one speaker to another with a life Leina used to confide in me. That she could manage a smile, a hearty laugh, and passed jokes with ease despite the observable unbearable pains that she endured, left me speechless. What a genius she was -a cheerful friend;adorable daughter; lovely mother; motivational speaker and a writer par-excellence!

During one of my visits at her Princess Marina hospital bed, she would, in her usual relaxed mood, pass a joke: “Noah kana ketsile go swa o bo o baka, jaaka o palelwake go ntlholajaana.”I took this lightly for I never thought she would pass on so quickly, leaving me dumbfounded, confused and so sad!I am even more saddened by a stark reality that there will be no more news coverage from Ghanzi anymore.

My first real contact with Leina was sometime in October of 2014. I got a call from an unknown number, and the caller on the other side appeared relaxed, kind but authoritative on her demand for a positive response. “Rrakebidiwa Leinanyana, nna he rra o kaekebatla go go interviewa?“A freelancer from Mmegi newspaper. The interview took more than two hours, and unbelievable at how we shared freely at first encounter ÔÇô fromboth ends of our lives. As we stood up to wish each other good-byes, she paused and in a hush tone said this to me: “Noah I heard you, because of this conversation I will never be a BDP again. I only became one because of my parents and nature of work then, Domkrag e ntshotlile”. She then said “Ijoo go siame rra nna ke a tsamaya, keya go apeela John”.

She had pursued two Diplomas from two different institutions, internal and abroad: in Secondary Education and Journalism, respectively. “Mme kana Noah ke a sotlega”, she would often say. As a freelancer, the best salary she had earned was about P2000 during election time in 2014. What happened to her Radio Botswana job remains an enigma unknown to me to this day. But one which needs to be shared with the general public, by those who might have worked or shared a life with her to ring a wake-up call on those who tend to derive joy from ruining lives of their subordinates just to please their masters. 

My journey from a rally in Botlhapatlou to Gaborone took longer than intended albeit consistently, but cautiously, on my accelerator throughout. Little did I realize I was in a deep trial but without a judge. In this trial, I was both the complainant and defendant. But neither during the interrogation did I entertain assuming the position of a judge. I felt unqualified. I thought I should leave it to my readers. 

It was a mind trial. Questions moved stealthily from one corner of my mind to another but without answers. I was on Leinanyana and her pains, physical and emotional. And what the celebrations of the 50years of independence would have meant to her. The current anger mood of the state, sharpened by the fear of looming regime change, did not elude the trial either. The thinking intensified at each kilometer discount to my destination. I thought of the unemployed lot, who despite carrying an array of legitimate certificates, diplomas, degrees and accolades languish in the yoke of poverty with no hope they will ever find a decent job. And how their efforts to meet the Speaker, ended up with bruises from sjamboks at the delight of the police bosses involved, in the process revealing the true character and brutality of the current speakership. Rather than pausing parliament to address these kids and say, ditiro gadiyo bongwanaka, the nation was instead shocked to learn that the Speaker instructed the police heavy with sjamboks, to whip the innocent kids away. Some of their placards carried noble messages: “where are the promised ESP jobs?”I remembered Leina saying: “Noah Domkrag e ntshotlile”.I just couldn’t stop thinking at how Leina had endeavoured to undertake a creative break from professional teaching to pursue a career in journalism with a hope of bettering her life prospects but in vain. Botswana of today.

Given this backdrop, many are asking why we even can afford to channel millions of pulas to South African artists against our very own? Is this a case of misplaced priorities? Is this the reason why quality of products given to youths under designated programmes have been so heavily compromised? 

Does our government even care? Think of the scandalous Glass project and Morupule Power scandals both in Palapye; the corruption stories at BDC; the notorious hunting band and BMC inefficiencies; the disposition of the people of CKGR from their ancestral land; the deathtrap at BCL; sponsorship cuts at tertiary institutions while half a million pula has been given to south African artists to come and teach Batswana how to celebrate their 50years of independence; theworkers who are earning peanuts but denied rightful promotions, especially at Health, education sectors and armed forces for one reason or another; the 2011 strike and its aftermaths; the many Bills which were recently passed by Botswana parliament when the rest of everybody was asleep and just before not all of them were awake.

I know others may be tempted to ask: why couldn’t you just leave the BDP with their majority to pass those Bills alone? You are guilty by association. Had we left, more questions could have hit in, asking why we had to leave in the first place, instead of just staying. But for me, either way its fine. For as long as we don’t forget the urgencies of the moment ÔÇô regime change. Because there is no doubt the BDP is fatigued and requires some rest. A party, Leinanyana had come to despise at all cost.Imagine, expecting parliamentarians to read five Bills with a speed of light, argue and pass them in one night. While, in the contrary, ministers take ample time reading and internalizing them before tabling them in parliament. 

But like I indicated I will allow you readers to be the judge. From where I stand, I hold one complaint: why attempt so fiercely to pass laws that seek to silence everybody including parliament? Why rush to bring a controversial Electronic Voting Machine when damaging allegations against its applicability has been so overwhelming? Why consult after a bill has been passed? 

May the soul of Leinarest in eternal peace and her good memories live with us forever. She won my heart by refusing to be in denial and forsaking the BDP and its evil deedsstraightaway. Thank you, Mma Leinanyana and family for sharing her with us.


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