Have you seen Jumanda Galekebone lately decked out in a pair of Steenbok (phuduhudu) horns?
Contrary to what the unwitting and cynical might think, he is not trying to look Roy Sesana-cool; his adornment is a cultural symbol of ascension to supreme leadership among the Kua.
On another level, Gakelebone’s wearing of this band marks an ongoing process of power transfer.
People have made all sorts of comments about Sesana’s horns, with some likening it to a fashion accessory.
To hear Gakelebone tell it, this headband is the equivalent of the leopard drape that Batswana traditional leaders are garbed in upon investiture or its crown equivalent in western societies.
The difference here would be that while these cultures are monarchical, leadership among the Kua is based not on accident of birth but meritocracy. Gakelebone makes this point to explain why he is the one inheriting the Steenbok’s horns and not Sesana’s son.
The horns are chopped out of a Steenbok’s head with a tomahawk, the chopper taking great care to leave the bed of skull and hide around the horns intact.
The skull bed and hide are then shaped into a miniature Steenbok head.
The ends of a leather strap (from the same animal) are then sewn onto ‘ears’ to make a headband which, as Sesana did with his, can be decorated with beads of ostrich eggshells. The horns can be accessorised with a jacket of Steenbok hide.
“Wearing this pair of horns is a symbol that one has come of age as a leader and can lead his people. The horns are worn on very special occasions; you will never see me wearing mine in Gantsi on a normal day,” says Gakelebone who recently acquired his own pair and wore it to an environmental group meeting in Germany where he was representing FPK.
“Mine were made by Roy for me – that is the way it is supposed to be. I could never make my own pair; instead it is made for me by the person who is transferring power to you. Likewise I will make my successor’s pair.”
It rankles with Sesana that to Setswana-speaking tribes the horns are just a fashion accessory or traditional-dance prop.
“This is grossly disrespectful because those horns have meaning. Like my great grandfather, my grandfather and my father before me, I was carried around in a Steenbok’s,” he says.
In 2005 when he was presented with the Right Livelihood Award, the so-called Alternative Nobel Peace Prize, Sesana stated in his acceptance speech: “When I wear the [Steenbok] horns, it helps me talk to my ancestors and they help me.”
The FPK leader also reveals a hitherto unknown detail around the haute couture use of the horns.
Years ago, a certain man roamed the length and breadth of Borolong Farms, claiming to be a popular Radio Botswana presenter and being feted by people in that area.
By Sesana’s account, there has emerged a dedicated band of Roy Sesana impostors who don a replica of the sacred horns and pass themselves off as the CKGR original. In the process, these impostors reportedly get all the fringe benefits that come with being Sesana.
Just as the Gaborone City Council’s mayoral chain that was stolen, a similar fate may befall the CKGR crown and replacing it would be a challenge because of the hunting ban.
Asked how they would get around a situation like this, Sesana quipped cryptically: “My understanding is that the hunting ban applies to those whom the government feeds.”
The latter doesn’t provide services to CKGR residents.