Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Honouring Sir Ketumile should be done out of respect and even-handedness

Before his retirement from active politics one of the big projects Sir Ketumile Masire had wished he had undertaken but never did as president was transforming the national “A1” highway linking the country’s two biggest cities into a dual carrier.

When he died recently, twenty years after his retirement from politics, Masire’s dream to create a dual carrier remained just that ÔÇô a dream.

This was mainly on account of a lack of political will on those he had left behind, but also economic malaise.

There is a raging public debate about just what is a fitting landmark that could be named after Masire.

A biggest, most fitting and most symbolic gesture that the nation could use to pay tribute to Masire would be to see to it that his dream is accomplished by transforming the A1 highway into a dual carrier. And thereafter getting the highway named after him.

This week Government announced that it was naming the country’s medical school after Masire.

This is a commendable first step, but one that is far from being satisfactory.

The medical school, important as it is, can hardly be among the country’s most iconic landmarks. To critics of this, naming the school after Masire, far from appreciating him, stands out as the most glaring example of our Government’s hypocrisy.

To such people, Masire deserves much more.

Given his unparalleled contribution to this country, especially because he remains the country’s president to serve longest, who as it were, the country underwent the longest stretch of uninterrupted development and economic growth, it can only be fair that the most iconic landmark in the country be created and be named after him.

Government dismisses its critics over this policy of honours, especially in so far as it pertains to the late Sir Ketumile Masire as baseless irritations from people hell bent on creating a mountain from an anthill.

It may well be so. But the excuse that Government has always had that it would not name anything on Masire as long as he was alive is no longer there.

As such Government is now standing on one leg.

More has to be done to honour Masire.

Such honours should be done wholeheartedly.

At the moment there are just too many landmarks that have been named after Sir Seretse Khama, the founding president.

As a gesture of fairness, Government should move quickly, not just to create parity, by naming more landmarks after Masire, but also to disabuse the now entrenched feelings of uneven handedness.

Masire and Seretse served this country together.

Our policy of honours, like the many presidential awards has become contaminated with accusations of unfairness.

Last year when the country turned fifty, Government recognized many of the country’s political heroes, but left one who is by far universally regarded as standing at the apex ÔÇô Daniel Kwelagobe.

It was not easy to decipher why.

Kwelagobe and President Ian Khama have had a tempestuous relationship.

But to try to re-write history, by denying a simple fact that Kwelagobe is among this country’s political heroes is nothing short of giving ton our base instincts as a nation.

Some of the people that were recognized, as it turned out found Kwelagobe already an accomplished politician when they joined politics. This has had a net effect of bad blood between Government and those who feel strongly that Kwelagobe was deliberately overlooked out of spite.

The intention might have been to humiliate and demean Kwelagobe the man, but in the end, the impact was more on the awards themselves.

Awards are supposed to be a source of pride and national unity.

They are supposed to offer a moment when the whole country sets aside differences so as to celebrate heroes and heroines.

But when such awards are bleeding with unfairness and pettiness, they easily become a sou7rce of divisions.

It is our hope that honouring Sir Ketumile will not divide us as a nation.

Government has a responsibility to see to it that fairness and honour happen.

Otherwise the issue will degenerate into a bitter source of anger and divisions.

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