In July last year I wrote an article in this paper published on Sunday 16th July 2010 titled “chieftaincy in a modern state”. In that article I posed this philosophical but existential question:
“Who will speak for you against the greatest threat to national security of modern times if you have forsaken your dikgosi”
This question remains as valid today as it has always been since Botswana “independence” of 1966. Its relevance has been taken to a higher level by the recent developments in the country where people from all corners have just had enough of the abuse suffered at the hands of the ruling elite politicians.
Unlike other countries with more developed democracies, the civic society in Botswana is virtually non- existent. There are simply no independent pressure groups to speak for the people. The only source of hope for a better future; for ending this nightmare we call Botswana; for ending the corruption, state sponsored murder, state sponsored violations of privacy and other human rights abuses, wholesale disposal of our land and wealth to foreigners especially the Asians, and self evident annihilation of Batswana cultures and languages; the only source of this hope is our Dikgosi; only if they could get their act together. We all see it and fortunately one or two of them have seen this light.
In the1966 Botswana Independence talks, Dikgosi were cheated and coerced by the colonial master (aided by the BDP government of SIR Seretse Kgama and SIR Ketumile Masire) into accepting an independence agreement which they Dikgosi did not approve of and which their merafe had never been consulted about. The fact I am highlighting is readily available at Botswana notes and records for anybody to independently verify for himself. It is for this reason that I have previously written an article in this paper about the false republic we call Botswana where I asserted and I repeat that our democracy was and continues to be founded on a false foundation. Falsehood begets false realities which quickly fall out of harmony with nature and naturally result in difficulties. It is assuring now that more and more Batswana are beginning to relate their individual and national difficulties to this false foundation. There is more awakening taking place.
I think if you were to ask any Motswana (including members of the BDP themselves; in secret), they will all agree that we are living a lie and it is time to face the truth that we are still under colonial laws and we ALL need a fresh start, whether you are Mokgatla, Mongwato, Mokwena, Mokalaka, Moyei, Mmirwa, Motswapong, Mosarwa etc. The lie is everywhere: from our daily speech in the language of the colonial master, to our false beliefs that elected representatives represent the wishes of the people when clearly that is not the case. You have to be a blind or foolish defender of falsehood not to agree, at least on this one.
There is a new and fresh wind of change blowing through Africa which exposes the reality of present day colonialism hiding behind democracy and using puppet governments for its sustenance. The stronghold of this form of colonialism lies in (i) the colonial constitutions and (ii) taming of Dikgosi who are the real source of power of the people against any form of oppression. This power of Dikgosi derives from their God given ability to unite the people behind any course of truth.
These are the two key pillars holding together this machinery of falsehood with its associated corruption, greed, and outright oppression of the people into the poverty we see today. The only salvation is if Dikgosi can start remembering their purpose on earth which is to do the right thing all the time for the better future of their people. The present colonial constitution and the colonial laws made pursuant to it quite evidently oppress Dikgosi. They are mere servants of the lowest rank in the civil service structure. They are batlhanka in the true sense of the word. Some of them have unfortunately prostituted their integrity with the very colonial system that oppresses the people they Dikgosi are supposed to protect. Everybody is complaining about the corrupt oppression by DIS, the corruption of government ministers and other officials, about extra-judicial killings, about failure of government to consult or account, about inequities in distribution of wealth, about the theft of tribal land and so on whilst some of our Dikgosi are happy to sit back quietly watching as the people suffer whilst some are actively supporting the oppression machinery all in exchange for a meager salary and momentary importance. This is truly depressing for some of us who hold bogosi in high esteem.
Therefore, this today, and not tomorrow, is the time for our Dikgosi to undo the false foundation of 1966 for the sake of all Batswana. Dikgosi must stand to be counted as real Dikgosi and not political Dikgosi – for once in the history of the 1966 Botswana. If only each one of them could demand a new constitution for Botswana, as was done in Mochudi on 29th January 2011, and call kgotla meetings of their merafe to consult them on this very important issue, then we will see the light to a new beginning where the people, for once, will be in a position to direct their destiny.
It is time for our politicians to occupy their rightful place in the political future of any democracy: they are the servants of the people and not the self crowned kings they have proclaimed upon themselves. They are accountable to the people. They have no right to rule the people without consultation. They have no right to refuse to account or refuse to pass laws that serve to strengthen democratic accountability.
A new Botswana will certainly cure, to a large degree, most of the inequities in the political playing field and answer the plight of the opposition parties and trade unions. We all stand to benefit from this transformation, only if we could all see it and put aside our short lived selfish interests. This is a call to the media houses that have been promoting lies and the chasing of red herrings. It is their time to do some soul searching to join hands in this struggle for truth and justice.
I must mention here in conclusion that it is the right, and duty , of every Motswana either individually or as tribal units, to decide his destiny. In international language, this right is called the right to self-determination.
Botswana is a signatory to the African Charter on human and people’s Rights which charter provides quite explicitly at Article 20 that all people shall “ ….freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen “ . But hang on a moment! The same Article goes on to state that “All people shall have the right to the assistance of the state parties to the present charter in their liberation struggle against foreign domination, be it political, economic or cultural.”
This provision imposes a duty upon our government to go the extra mile to help those people seeking liberation from covert colonialism and other forms of domination. There are several more international instruments signed by our government along these same lines (for example, Article 1 of the United Nations International Covenant on civil and political Rights which Botswana signed in the year 2000), yet very little is done by the government (contrary to its duty) to safeguard the interests of its people deriving from the international values highlighted.
We remain under complete cultural domination by a corrupted version of western values; our language is so clearly suppressed; our kings are locked up in jails when they execute the cultural mandate of their people; our wealth and land is given away to foreigners who have partnered with our corrupt elected leaders, the Ngamiland case being one painfully on point, which should remind with due respect Kgosi Kgolo Tawana II of his purpose to his people.
Our noble honourable Judges of Courts are Batswana, and deep down they see and feel this injustice to their fellow countrymen, but they feel so powerless to save the situation because their hands have been locked behind by the same instrument of oppression in the colonial constitution. The poor judges are forced to communicate with those who appear before them in a language they otherwise would have preferred not to use and are forced to apply laws in a manner that outrages their own conscience. I make these long and winded points so that the reader may learn that the demand for a new constitution by Bakgatla is a matter well entrenched in fact, in international law and in our conscience as honest God loving people.
The reader must therefore not be afraid to speak the truth about these fundamental issues for fear of being branded the common titles of “unpatriotic, seditious, rebellious, treasonous, crazy nut etc”. We must all know that it is a matter of right to demand control of our destiny through our own culture and language. It is not a privilege to be begged from the current leadership in Government, despite what the present colonial constitution says. It is a right that we can realise and live to enjoy if we stop playing games.
The Kenyans have taken a giant leap forward in reforming their constitution to align it with their true aspirations as opposed to the aspirations of their former colonialists. Martin Luther king JR said “our lives begin to end the day we remain silent about the things that matter most .” : This is the inevitable fate of our future as Batswana , if we continue to keep quiet and play political and self interest games we presently are playing. It is time to scramble fast out of Babylon, as the bible book of Revelations prophesies.