Saturday, June 15, 2024

Celebrating the Life Captain Kay

This month we celebrate the life of one of Botswana Defence Force’s finest soldiers of the century. A man with very humble beginnings from a dusty village with a landscape dominated by round thatched houses and what has now turned into a big town by all measure and standard. Captain Supra Kealotswe was born here in Serowe on the 5th day of May, 1956.

The man went on retirement and immediately plunged himself into the tourism business. Not only did he become an instant businessman, he also rebranded himself and went on to call himself Captain Kay. In his own words, the life he spent in the bush as a young soldier was equally a life of tourism as he defended the territorial integrity of the country and protecting its wildlife. As a result, foreign tourists were able to come into Botswana and enjoy the tranquillity that had been created by himself and many of his comrades in arms at BDF.

Captain Kay joined what was known then as Botswana Police Force headed by Commissioner Simon Hirschfeld. This was in 1975 and the young lad was only eighteen years old. Among his squad mates is Captain Radinonyane, man fondly known as Senior Citizen in the tourist town of Maun in the north. This is where Captain Radinonyane is enjoying his retirement.

One of the key characters in this 1975 drama was Major Peter Mojapelo who is equally retired and a resident of Mahalapye. Major Mojapelo comes out as the most intelligent of this trio of “intellectuals.” These three men can articulate themselves very well in the Queen’s language and they are indisputably seasoned public speakers and orators. It is difficult to write anything about the life and times of this extraordinary soldier without occasionally making reference to the other members of the trio.

In his first posting after finishing police train at Police College, Constable Kay was sent to Francistown with the other members of the trio. At this time tensions between Botswana and Rhodesia were at a simmering stage and Alfa Company which was responsible for the northern sector needed to be beefed up with more able bodied young men like these three.

The three hit the ground running in Francistown. The town was so much in need of them and they equally played a significant part in giving the residents of the town the much needed security. Once their basic training was over, they were then drafted into what was known as the Para Military Unit of the Botswana Police Force. For political correctness, the unit was soon renamed Police Mobile Unit.

For the trio, training was not over as they became the first persons to receive proper military training in Botswana. The country had contracted Superintendent Percy Turner Wild to give these young lads military training. Mr Turner was a very good military instructor and this was evident in his CV. He had trained the military in Kenya and Tanzania before landing a short and controversial contract in Botswana.

Training commenced early January 1975 and both Kealotswe and Mojapelo were drafted into Squad 1 of that year at Police College. The training went on for six months after which the two were sent to join Alfa Company of the Para Military Unit in Francistown under the command of Superintendent Percy Turner Wild. Kealotse was placed in Platoon No1 while Mojapelo went on to be placed in Platoon No3

Captain Kay has what can be noted as meritorious service in the military. He showed himself to be a faithful servant of the state. He has been involved in several operations carried out by PMU and BDF as he became the founding member of the military establishment in Botswana. Once BDF was established, Kealotswe went on to specifically join an infantry company while Mojapelo went on to join No1 Support Company Unit.

Captain Kay has spent more than thirty years working for Force Training Establishment “giving birth” to soldiers. Over ten thousand soldiers have passed through his hands. He is one of the best when it comes to military tactics. As a seasoned tactician, Captain Kay has trained all military cadres from Non Commissioned Officers to Commissioned Officers.

For Captain Kay, Force Training Establishment became his second home while still serving as a soldier. Captain Kay has always come out as a “Class A” cut soldier and that is why he landed a job with the military’s training wing. He served there and mentored many of his seniors that included Brigadier Kgokgothwane who also hails from Serowe.

A rare opportunity arose for this officer. The UN needed to fill vacancies in their observer mission in Rwanda. The two inseparable colleagues in the pair of Kealotswe and Mojapelo went on to live in Kabale in Uganda while serving to observe peace in Rwanda. This was one of the most complex observer missions as the Rwandan rebels were supported by Uganda and hence the need to be place observers just in the border area of the two countries.

Captain Kay retired from the military in 2003 after serving his country selflessly for thirty-eight years. This is the only career he has known all his life. He quickly thrust himself into the tourism business which he regards as an extension of his military career.

Captain Kay with his wife Maggie set up a famous business in the periphery of Serowe known as Masama Lodge. The man chose to go back to his roots upon his retirement. He says the life of a soldier is being a perpetual tourist as most of a soldier’s life in Botswana is spent in the wild.

Captain Kay is surviving with his wife and three children. They have shifted their focus to yet another family business. Their enterprise is now Motlopiwamanong Farm where the family is seriously establishing a family business. They are setting up an agro tourism project and they are tapping on their vast experience gathered from running Masama Lodge for many years.

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