Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Another response to Bashi Mothusi

Ha! Ha! Ha! This must be the biggest joke of 2012. For me. On second thoughts it must be the biggest joke of the twenty-first century. Bashi Mothusi wants to guide Me. According to Him I need to be guided by Him. I am confused according to Him, I need guidance from Him. I am lost for words. I think He needs more guiding and enlightening than I would ever do, reading His articles.

And charity begins at home, remember? An academic of His calibre wants to guide me. Huh! Is he a genuine academic anyway? I know an academic is someone who is a teacher at college or university. And Bashi Mothusi teaches some Administration course at the University of Botswana. But….!
I must not laugh. The Medical profession is known to be haunted and hounded by quacks, who I learn instead of helping patients to regain health, actually make patients to lose health, even life. Could the academia be enduring this phenomenon? How sad if that be the case.

Bashi Mothusi accuses me of bragging. In an attempt to enlighten him of the fact that Honourable Modubule could not have been active in the BNF when I joined it, I thought I had to throw relevant chapters of the book of my association with the BNF and comrades I worked with in 1965 and after 1981, at him. My break between the periods I thought had to be explained. I did not think it was taboo to mention my exact whereabouts during that period. Mention of Robben Island was a detail not justified to raise hackles. I didn’t know it would . Mea culpa!

Though I apologise most sincerely, I must make it clear that when men from the world of academia start assuming too much, they may need a full dose of prescription to get whole again. Bashi, a contemporary of my grandchildren should ask someone who knows me to discover whether there is the faintest semblance of braggart in me? I am convinced whoever he asks, will give a negative answer.

I do not wear Robben Island Prison on my sleeve as Bashi tends to believe. I never mention the name unless prompted to do so. Besides, it is my opinion that anybody who brags about his prison life must be loony. There is nothing to brag about prison experience, unless one thinks it is great to have been imprisoned because, a Robert Mugabe or a Nelson Mandela was locked up in prison and emerged after their stints with title of ‘Excellency’ following Lancaster or CODESA. It does not work like that, Dr Mothusi. No! Thousands of ex-political prisoners have come back from gaol to ‘freedom squares ‘ and the political arena to become political punch bags for professionals and amateurs, in all weights, from bantam to heavy. You see Bashi, you prompted me to say where I was, in case someone like you gave information that I only joined the party WHEN Honourable Modubule was already active. Had I not furnished you with full information of my whereabouts all those years, who knows you could have turned around and accused me of hiding behind my finger, knowing how circumspect you are about detailed information. My intention was not to brag but to preempt your thumb-sucking tendency of evaluating facts.

But dear reader, read the first paragraph of the Telegraph of February 29, 2012 titled, ‘Michael Dingake misdirected himself AGAIN and see who is the braggart!’ The paragraph is replete with bragging: “I never use big English words because I do not want to cause any confusion to the readers……issues that I raised and presented in very simple English….But as an academic ….I have a duty to guide and enlighten people like him.” Writes our guiding academic. Is he alright mistaking me for his slow learning students? Is he bragging or is he not? Seeing a mote in somebody’s eye but failing to see a beam in your own eye! Guiding people like him (Michael Dingake), indeed. That is the limit of bragging and arrogance you can imagine: Guide and enlighten people like him (me) indeed when he appears to need guidance and enlightenment than anybody I know! In my entire grandfather lifetime I have never read such bragging from an academic, at that?

Bashi says he uses very simple English to make himself understood. May be he uses very simple English, probably too simple to be understood by himself alone. “When I use a word said,” ‘ Humpty Dumpty in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean, …neither more nor less.” The Humpty Dumptys of these world! Whether the words they write or utter are difficult or not, when they come from their mouths or pens, they are simple! That is why the word ‘Misdirect ‘used with reckless abandon in our exchanges must remain undefined. The word has become a cliche. I won’t be surprised if his students nickname him, ‘Misdirect’ if they read his articles. The academic is in love with the word, ‘ Michael Dingake misdirects himself,’ Michael Dingake misdirects himself AGAIN!’

Batswana stop me in the street and those who know my cellphone number, call to ask, “What is this business of ‘misdirecting’ you are running at the moment and where are your premises?” I have no answer. Perhaps this is where Bashi thinks I need guidance and enlightenment. The problem is that even he, the great guide and enlightenment teacher has so far failed ‘dismally’ (pet word) he uses to describe my capacities, which according to him must be bordering on the abnormal. To him I am dunderhead of the dunderheads, a blockhead!

He denies the expression, ‘economical with the truth’ does not only mean lying (note he does not deny it means lying) but gives another meaning, ‘selective with facts.’ Fair. So, this peer of my grandsons who professes to be well-mannered whilst denying that he was politely calling me a liar, only that I was selective with facts, writes in the Telegraph of February 29, 2012: “Well he (Michael Dingake) has the right to call himself whatever he wants….” In the English language which our academic uses in simplified form, what he says above may be rendered in another form:”If the cap fits, wear it!” Does that express deference, compliment or politeness?

Tough debating issues with academics, pardon me, someone who claims to be sufficiently academic to guide and enlighten, old crocks who have figuratively and literally seen the quadrangle of life: the East, the West, the North and the South of life, like myself. I am not bragging. I have been buffeted by life experiences though unappreciated by the youth who believe they know it all, yet I still engage in their polemical pastime and able to get my gnarled word edgewise.

When I make a statement that there is a school of thought among the youth, which feels the oldies must lay off politics and if they had their way would banish the oldies from politics, Bashi believes I am attacking him and his whole generation. Preposterous! But the school of thought lives. It does not mean all the youth belong to that school. By saying there is a school of thought, does not imply there is only one school. Bashi accuses other people of hiding behind their fingers, he in turn has perfected the art of hiding behind anonymous colleagues or contemporaries.

I try to tackle him alone, no, he drags other persons identifiable and anonymous and organizations into our argument. Is our academic, everybody and anybody? My statement should be understood to depict some sections of the youth who definitely exist, self-indoctrinated in a contemptuous attitude of fathers and grandfathers. They are there, it is known and no amount of prevarication and denials will remove the fact . And why is Bashi talking about himself not having the powers of banishing people because the president does not have them? Merciful mercy! Where is this debate taking us?

Bashi harps on his ‘two’ articles, I was never concerned about two articles, my concern was always with the one headlined, “Michael Dingake misdirects himself “ of February 22, 2012 with names of his friends on one side and names of those he thinks are not in the flock of eagles, ready to soar high in the skies, because they obviously failed to win elections after they had chalked up 40 percent in their previous elections ÔÇô on the other. Mind you I didn’t bring up any names but merely commented on the juxtaposition of these names. Nonetheless I wish Bashi could check whether those candidates who won seats in Parliament and in councils, just came out of the blue to win their seats? And whether they had not registered any positive performance in the previous (2004) general elections? Further, whether names he mentions, those who failed to win, had not improved their performance on the previous results! The truth of the matter is, the majority of MPs and Councilors who contested for the second or third time in 2009 improved on their previous performance. I prefer to write about issues and underlying facts around them instead of people’s names. Bashi prefers to flourish names of persons and organizations. His, ‘us’ must be read to mean ‘us,’ ‘we,’ the BMD and movement colleagues. I was not and I am not keen to engage him or anybody at their level. If he wishes to play spokesperson of the BMD I must steer clear from spokesperson-ship of the BCP because though a member, I am but an ordinary member. Believe me, what I write is my mind, not BCP policy.

Bashi baffles me. He is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. In his articles in which he is determined to guide and enlighten me he behaves like a cat on a hot tin roof, jumping from one depiction of me to another contra depiction. While trying to enlighten and guide me, he calls me, wise this, wise that, full of wisdom and what not. I am aware he may be using irony, the figure of speech used by Mark Antony at Caesar’s funeral when he said , “Brutus is an ‘honourable man, so are they all ….honourable men,” with tongue in the cheek to underscore Brutus treacherous conduct and incite the funeral crowd against him and his co-conspirators. Mark Antony indeed succeeded in inciting the crowd against Brutus and his friends. Bashi is not Mark Antony and I doubt whether he is capable of inciting anybody against the misdirected me.

Bashi like a cat on a hot tin roof, one moment writes, “Michael Dingake is one of the politicians I highly respect. He has contributed immensely to the political development of our republic . I always read his articles and he inspires me….” The next moment he states: “….There is nothing meaningful and interesting I can read about rre Dingake…. He must stop deluding himself by thinking he has a special place in my heart. He is not my political icon… I can never waste my precious time reading about him …. That is why I did not even know he is one of the founding members of the BNF (Amusing! After stating that I joined the BNF when Honourable Modubule was already active in it!) … His incarceration at Robben Island prison is of no importance to me or Batswana….” I am not his icon. Is he setting himself as an iconoclast to demolish imaginary icons nobody built?

Dr Mothusi you are beginning to snarl and snap! Why are you abrasive? Your language is beginning to verge on the uncouth and abusive: “…Dingake failed dismally…rendering himself irrelevant… narrow-minded people who cannot see beyond their noses.. ” Bruises are skin-deep. Wait! There is more where that comes from.

MK Dingake


Read this week's paper

The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.