The new Goodhope-Mabule MP, Lotlaamoreng II, says that he is not in the least bothered by President Ian Khama for not officially welcoming him to parliament in his state-of-the-nation address.
Traditionally, new MPs get special mention in this address and so it was odd that Khama didn’t welcome Lotlaamoreng, who won a bye-election in August trouncing the Botswana Democratic Party candidate, Eric Molale.
“I don’t know why he didn’t welcome me and frankly, have no interest in knowing,” says Lotlaamoreng adding that he is happy to content with the Speaker and other MPs have embraced him as one of their own. “But I am certain the president knew that there was a new MP. He didn’t even attend the swearing-in ceremony.”
The MP adds that at a personal level, he and Khama get on well: “We meet, we talk. I have no problem with him but I can’t be sure if that is the case with him.” Both men are traditional leaders of their respective tribes ÔÇô Khama of the Bangwato and Lotlaamoreng of Barolong ÔÇô and in Botswana the blue-blooded set is generally known to be very close. The great grandfathers of the two men had a very good relationship and were it not old age, Lotlaamoreng grandfather, Montshiwa, would have accompanied the three Batswana dikgosi(Khama III, Sebele II and Bathoen I) who travelled to England in 1895 to thwart attempts by Cecil John Rhodes to annex the Bechuanaland Protectorate. Unable to make the journey, Montshiwa deputed his son and heir apparent, Besele, as well as his secretary, Stephen Lefenya, to join the trio at Cape Town from where they would sail to England.
The Khama name rose to prominence around this time and a book by Dr. Modiri Molema casts Montshiwa as having been more heroic than both Khama III and Sechele I, Sebele II’s father. Some people (including former cabinet minister, David Magang) have launched a campaign to have Sechele given a national honour but Molema, a Pan Africanist who became the National Secretary of the African National Congress in 1949, casts both Sechele and Khama III as having been little more than Uncle Toms. His contention is that the source of their greatness was their connection with an alien institution ÔÇô the church ÔÇô and that such greatness was assessed by their eagerness to adopt foreign moral standards.
“For many years, Montshiwa was easily the most famous Tswana chief, his fame exceeding even that of Sechele of the Bakwena who was discovered and widely publicised by Dr. Livingstone. It was not less than that of Khama of the Bangwato who was first lionised by the missionaries and agents of the London missionary Society. Montshiwa’s fame had a different and one may say opposite origin to that of those two chiefs,” Molema writes in Montshiwa: Barolong Chief & Patriot (1814-1895).
He further notes that unlike Khama and Sechele, Montshiwa resisted the detribalization of his people and steadfastly upheld the ancestor-worship of his forefathers.
“It is not too farfetched to assume that his opposition to alien faiths was dictated by his sagacity to measure tribal affairs by a political standard and tribal public opinion, and not pay any regard to the pretensions and claims of any sect, or the preaching of new opinions except in so far as they could promote the present welfare of the tribe,” Molema’s book says.
It is interesting to imagine an alternative world where Montshiwa had retained such fame. His great grandson, Lotlaamoreng, would probably have been the one in a position to welcome Khama after a bye-election in Serowe North.