Reports that President Dr Masisi blames former President Dr Lt General Khama for the rhino poaching crisis that has lately hit Botswana might be ridiculous but do make a case for us to reflect on what has become of our society.
While President Dr Masisi seems to finger former President Dr Khama for the systemic and militarized poaching, the General puts the blame on President Dr Masisi and his administration for turning down assistance from the UK on anti-poaching and conservation. Essentially, the habitual squabbling of these two is an indictment of Botswana’s new culture.
The incumbent administration suggests that they are a victim of the misdeeds of the immediate past administration whose superintendents have set up a very sophisticated criminal enterprise aimed at undermining the authority of the state. On the other hand, authorities from the immediate past administration have consistently decried victimization on the basis of association with former president Dr Khama. Inevitably and ridiculously, the Botswana society has been re-configured according to this format hence we have come to specialize in reciting our grievances, avoiding responsibility and claiming monopoly of deprivation.
As a nation we have adopted whining, blaming, yelling, screaming and bullying as the new normal and the core of our purpose in life. Fundamentally, we have come to use the victim status as a best form of defense and response to our failure to get what we want. Since our miracle economy that was characterized by a good life started misfiring, Batswana have become a society of resentful individuals who are always spiteful; who are always eager to feel victimized and hungry to illustrate their inability to contain their misplaced fury.
We have become a nation that consistently broods over what we consider to be our innate advantages, things that really cannot count as advantages except for reasons of justifying our whining and unmerited annoyance.
We have become a society that abuse victimhood by never wanting to take responsibility for our indiscretions and misconduct. We lament for the miracle economy of yesteryears; for a world that only exists in our imagination, a world beyond our own, a world without diseases, crime and nature’s fury, and we lament for not getting what we want through what we believe is no fault of our own.
We have become a society that is aggrieved by the conduct of all others except ourselves, the victims. We have become a society of crybabies who are eager to justify our misery by seeking out the victim card and in order to justify our collective inertia.
We bear no responsibility for what we do and for things that are of our own making. We have re-arranged our world so that whenever we fail to get what we desire, we look for convenient demons in our midst to justify our whining and dress our misery in victimhood wherein we blame witches and spooks for our poor judgment.
The on-going public hearing on circumstances leading to the December 2019 accident involving Botswana Railways passenger train exposes us as a society wallowing in self-pity in that whatever mistakes we commit in our lives such is in fact not our fault. We do not want to take responsibility for anything adverse.
Except on occasions where some wanted to blame the dead for the accident, what clearly came out of the hearings is that the accident was no one’s fault and those in the frontline of vitriolic attacks by a reckless public see themselves as victims of a witch hunt.
While the investigations are meant to gather facts in order to improve Botswana Railways operations and circumvent the recurrence of train accidents, those who appear before the investigators are just too eager to throw themselves at others for public sympathy and move on with their lives rather than negligence or incompetence.
We have lost the backbone to acknowledge the challenges we face in order to face them head-on and this is because we have proudly embraced a culture of victimization that give us space to avoid taking responsibility for what is often error of judgment.
Historically, Batswana were a tenacious society that survived tough times such as unprecedented perennial droughts. We were able to survive by hustling and acknowledging that no one else, except ourselves, can rescue us from our predicament. This meant that we had to believe in ourselves, our innate abilities and strengths instead of sobbing like half men.
We remained unperturbed by the daunting task ahead yet alive to the reality that the blame game cannot save us from hunger, diseases and eventual demise. Thus, we managed to survive tough times mainly because we stayed clear of scapegoating and avoided dressing our misfortunes in costumes of victimhood.
The new normal which is by and large the tragic culture of entitlement and privilege means that we have become a fragile and sorry society whose misfortunes are someone else’s fault.
After the 2019 general election, the opposition parties, in particular, the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) which suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) registered an unprecedented number of petitions alleging to be victims of electoral fraud.
The UDC alleged that the vote rigging was coordinated by the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) in concert with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). Essentially, the UDC was gob smacked when the BDP won, with wide margins, many constituencies especially those considered opposition strongholds.
While the UDC’s claims could not be dismissed whimsically mainly because the coalition had appeared headed for state power on account of its likeable campaign message, the UDC’s indifference towards taking responsibility or at least part of it for their dismal performance bespeaks a culture of victimization that has turned us into a nation of self-proclaimed victims of everything and anything.
In choosing a persistence sense of victimhood that places blame on others, the UDC spawned an opportunity to look in the mirror and tidy its desk to get it right the next time. Drawing from the UDC handling of the their election loss, it is safe to reason that we are a society with a victim mindset; a society that is always searching for something to blame; a society always nursing a grudge.
Tragically, a victim mindset provides sufficient excuses for our failures and lack of efforts. It is a convenient way to yell at and rail against all including our creator, while we absolve ourselves from all the mess.
Curiously but not surprising, the ruling establishment also find themselves donning the garb of victimhood claiming that they are victims of their own success. This is in spite that they have always frowned at suggestions that some people are victimized by institutional bias.
They are now singing the victim anthem because it is a convenient way to meander around elite privilege that hitherto entitled them to win elections without any real challenge from the opposition.
The ruling elite feel victimized because they always believed that they had the divine right to rule Botswana uninterrupted whereas the opposition coalition feel victimized for their desire to effect regime change and give Batswana something different. This is tragic and cannot be celebrated or evaded. For so long as we went about it the wrong way that led us into a pit. We need to dig ourselves out of the pit.
To do so, Batswana must acknowledge that this culture of victimhood is worrisome, counterproductive and catastrophic. Wallowing in self-pity makes us distinguished crybabies who howl grievances like a lethargic and clumsy poet who repeats stanza and then blame his breath for flipping back pages.
As a society, we need to be worried about this pervasive culture of victimhood because it traps all of us in a life of restlessness wherein our purpose in life seems to be about refusing to take responsibility.
We need to acknowledge that this culture of victimhood has transformed us into a society that is always itching to be angry; always blaming all and everything; always yelling at our own shadows and always expecting miracle luxuries without making any efforts to seek prosperity and happiness in ways that make a mockery of ourselves.
We need to concede that instead of sobbing for a fortuitous good life, we ought to fight for it. We must aim to become winners rather than flamboyant whiners. It takes a magnanimous society to introspect and commit itself to turning things around and it takes a proud nation to rediscover its purpose in life and realize how resilient we are.