Saturday, December 3, 2022

Khama’s jokes inappropriate, dishonourable and slanderous

President Khama’s ability to amuse people, especially his legion of pathetic fans, is now legendary. This is in spite of the fact that on many occasions his jokes are of bad taste and mistimed.

Generally, humour entertains and livens up an audience. The famous motivational speaker Mike Lipkin reminds us that ‘humour lightens the spirit. It reduces tension. It builds rapport with other people’. Humour is often used to win an audience, but it can also distract, especially when used by someone who is dealing with a subject or matter outside of his vocation.

It may drown out an important message or trivialize a significant occasion hence the need to be considerate and intelligent when passing jokes. Like many other people, I have a good sense of humour and always feel at ease in the company of people with good humour. However, I am also easily put off by irrelevant and unintelligent humour.

I was patently amused that a host of local private newspapers recently dedicated a sizeable amount of their space to broadcast President Khama’s stray jokes at the 2013 Botswana Examinations Council Excellence Awards. It was widely reported that President Khama sent the audience into stitches when he joked that he has remained single because he wants to be free to admire the tremendous beauty of Batswana women without worrying about offending his wife (The Monitor, 10th June 2013; Midweek Sun, 12th June 2013).

Upon reading these stories I wondered if His Excellency President Khama’s jokes actually represented the core of his remarks at the Awards. I refuse to believe that reporters from the various media houses would opt to omit an important part of President Khama’s remarks and selectively dwell on his nauseating jokes. My conclusion is that President Khama does not attach any value to education so much so that he would rather comment about beauty than present education as a status indicator in a knowledge society.

As already mentioned, humour is virtuous but it must be context-relevant and clever. For instance, BEC Excellence Awards seek to encourage good school performance and present recipients as role models. One therefore naturally expects that jokes passed at the forum of this nature by esteemed guests must be measured so that they arouse interest in discipline and hard work ÔÇô the precursors of good performance. President Khama is a revered figure, a national icon and a celebrity to the multitudes.

His not so funny jokes about his bachelorhood and the beauty of Batswana women may have actually overshadowed the purpose of the Awards. To many people, young and old, President Khama is the local God and his words and actions are often swallowed hook, line and sinker. He therefore needs to be discreet with his jokes and specifically learn to play with thoughtfulness. This was an opportunity for President Khama to market education. It was an excellent opportunity for him to inspire and reassure learners that government has their interests at heart. It was an opportunity to showcase future brainy role models rather than reduce such an important event into a meaningless display of beauty and bachelorhood and in the process give young girls the impression that beauty is an end in itself. It was certainly not an opportunity for him to distract young boys by teaching them the art of ogling and salivating at women.

Whichever way we evaluate and analyse his jokes under the circumstances, President Khama’s jokes were absurd and unbefitting the status of the presidency and must just swallow his pride and apologize publicly. Perhaps it is true that it takes a thief to catch another so that we need to be discriminatory in our choice of guest speakers at such events.

BEC Excellence Awards target young learners and for President Khama to joke about the beauty of women and his bachelorhood was reckless, irresponsible and a sign of moral deficit. His jokes were not only astray but also bizarre. They had the potential to divert the audience’s attention from the purpose of the event towards women of all shape and size. In the extreme, his jokes must have undervalued and belittled education relative to the beauty of women. His jokes had the potential to hero-worship beauty and bachelorhood especially for young learners who are still trying to make sense of conflicting life stories.

Perhaps his irrelevant jokes were deliberately meant to confirm his disdain for education and this could have devastating effect given his tremendous influence on people’s choices. It is a fact that Botswana’s education system is comatose and the public is justified to demand the political leadership to account. In this case, the political head of the Ministry of Education and Skills Development has been at the receiving end of ceaseless criticism and rightfully so.

For President Khama to tell Minister Venson-Moitoi to ignore the ‘nonsense’ just shows his open contempt for education. This ‘nonsense’ constitutes legitimate public concerns and can only be dismissed instantly by someone who does not care about the value of education let alone its quality.

The kernel of this argument is not that President Khama should not use humour but that his jokes should be appropriate, measured and used intelligently. It has now become customary that women and his bachelorhood always dominate his jokes in ways that seem to suggest that he is using the jokes to indoctrinate his followers so that they follow his path.

President Khama must remember that it is his choice to remain single and must not actively brainwash young people to mimic his life style.

It is actually becoming mischievous that at every opportunity he has to ‘jokingly’ flaunt his bachelorhood as though life is all about himself. His comments about women always border on thinly veiled attempts at humiliating and mocking them though they are the first to laugh uncontrollably like hopeless beings. His reference to the beauty of Batswana women makes them mere objects of admiration for men wanting to satisfy their greedy eyes and selfish egos. They are reduced to lesser human beings whose only value lies in their beauty rather than anything of substance.

I wouldn’t give a hoot were he to share his sick jokes in his private capacity but once he officiates in his capacity as His Excellency the President of the Republic of Botswana he must guard his comical tongue.

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