Former Minister and a long time politician, David Magang, says the election of Barack Obama as the first African American President of the United States is proof of the human race’s capacity to change.
Magang says not so long ago, it was unimaginable that a Black American would one day occupy the White House and be the most powerful individual on the planet.
Magang is upbeat at the coming presidency of Obama, adding that, when given a chance, any human being, regardless of race, can attain the highest position possible based entirely on talent and ability.
“Many times during his campaign Obama stressed the simple fact that he is what he is simply because throughout his life he was given the opportunity by his parents.”
Obama went to some of the best schools in America, including Harvard where he graduated with a law degree in the 1980s.
Juxtaposing Obama’s achievements with what is happening back in Botswana, Magang says Batswana should learn to give each other a chance to prove themselves and showcase their worth.
He says it is a source of pain that there persists a perception among black people in general and Batswana in particular that there are certain things that are above them.
This, he says, is a result of centuries old practice of blacks being subjected to all sorts of humiliation and underrating by their white counterparts.
Drawing from his personal experience, Magang said it often pains him to remember that he spent a good part of his adult life trying to convince the Botswana government that he was capable of developing a township the magnitude of Phakalane.
“What annoys me most is that in that instance, it was Black against Black.”
In his autobiography, “The Magic of Perseverance”, Magang bares his soul on how for many years he was moved from pillar to post as he battled to convince the powers that be that his plan to develop a township was viable.
“In this instance it was the black people, some of them directly related to me who not only doubted my plans but went out of the way to block me,” he said.
He said for many years as he struggled to develop what has since become the uptown suburb of Phakalane he was told to his face that “you can’t achieve this thing because you are an African. This can only be done by white people.”
He says because Obama has achieved the highest political office in the world, his achievements have, in a way, also removed the artificial ceiling to which black people have so often been subjected.
“Because of this centuries old socialization where blacks are regarded as inferior, we were often ashamed of ourselves when we outclassed our white counterparts in class during our school days in England.”
Magang graduated with a law degree from England in the 1960s.
Born from a poor family, he went on to become one of Botswana’s most successful businessmen.
“During our time, it was unusual for a Black man to excel in anything.”
He says today that is, however, fast changing as black people dominate most of the world’s sporting codes and are, therefore, able to aspire to the highest achievements just like is the case with their white counterparts.
In turn, the successful ones are an inspiration to others.
“I always emphasise the fact that I developed Phakalane not because I am black, but despite me being black,” he says when looking back at the difficulties and ridicule he had to go through.
“It is my hope that Obama’s victory will provide the much needed respectability the black people have always lacked. It is important that we look at ourselves as having the same brains as the white people. We are all human after all,” he said.
He is annoyed by the fact that despite the abundance of history pointing to the fact that Africa is the cradle of civilization, Africans still lack the attitude and confidence to stand their ground and be assertive.
His only consolation is that with Obama as USA President, that may be about to change.