“Let us, as the elderly not be relegated to being dinosaurs but utilize our knowledge and hard earned wisdom to not only increase our relevance and longevity in society, but also increase the contact between generations, bridging the gap between young and old.”
These are wise words spoken by Botswana’s first woman Cabinet Minister, Dr. Gaositwe K.T. Chiepe, at the International Day of Older Persons held in the Mokolodi Nature Reserve.
Her words were greeted by a swirl of laughter and applause. This auspicious occasion, held under the theme; “The future we want: what older persons are saying” was sponsored by FinCraft Investment Management in conjunction with Botswana Civil Service Pensioners Association (BCSPA).
The inaugural event seeks to celebrate the immense contribution that the old generation of pensioners and generally the elderly has made to Botswana.
“We truly express our gratitude to all the elderly persons of Botswana (alive and those resting) for the shape that they molded us into!” Dr Chiepe said in her brief opening and welcome remarks. “We want to be ‘the aged in counsel and the young in action.”
The world at large and Botswana in particular can benefit a lot from taking heed to advice from senior citizens, she said. We might have grown from times where the sophisticated technology we see today did not exist, but that technology is never a substitute for sound advice from those with grey hair.
Dr Chiepe was then given a token of appreciation ÔÇô a diamond flag ÔÇô by Mrs. E. Mathe, the CEO of BCSPA. The Diamond flag pin made by Shrenuj Botswana incorporated 24 white diamonds uniquely manufactured in Botswana within the Diamond hub.
Earlier on, the CEO read out the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon’s message for 2013.
Other speakers were Dr. Doreen Ramogola-Masire who talked about wellness and nutrition for elders; Mr. Sikhulile Bhebhe (Head of Business development FinCraft) who spoke about Investment profile assessment; Oarabile Pitso, an attorney who encouraged the elderly to write wills and estate planning to minimize acrimony and fights over inheritance.
Elders exercised and were massaged by wellness experts and physiotherapists. What then followed was entertainment galore by the Traditional group Makwakwa-A-Setso.
In a side interview, one of the elderly, Enock M. Lebekwe, who was a professional driver of the three Foreign Affairs ministers Archibald Mogwe (between 1974 and 1985); Gaositwe Chiepe (from 1984 until 1994); Mompati Morafhe (1994-2008) expressed joy at the event.
“I am feeling fantastic; it is always good to be honoured especially after working tirelessly for the government,” Lebekwe enthused.
Prominent elder citizen, Gobe Matenge, also shared Mr. Lebekwe’s happiness.
“I can simply say am feeling good. The event raised critical issues which were relevant to the occasion. It is an eye-opener to the government and the nation at large,” he said,
The event will be hosted annually from now onwards.