What exactly did Botswana Peoples Party president, Motlatsi Molapisi, mean when he said that some Batswana youth will have to “sacrifice their bodies” in order that others can be free? Would he himself sacrifice members of his own family to set Botswana free? The Setswana that he used was, “Re ta a patelesega go tsena mo seemong sa gore bana bangwe ba Batswana ba ntshe mebele ya bone gore e tshubiwe, gore bangwe ba te ba bone kgololesego.”
In a period of time when former president Ian Khama has said that if reclaiming the Botswana that he was happier in means the country going through “turmoil and discomfort so be it”, when the president of the Umbrella for Democratic Change has proposed “bloodshed” as appropriate response to vote rigging by the ruling party, a statement like one Molapisi made is naturally understood within apocalyptic context. As a matter of fact, most of the people commenting on the Facebook comment board of the video in which Molapisi made that statement expressed alarm.
When Sunday Standard sought clarification of the statement, the first thing he asserted was that he was not inciting anyone to violence but was predicting what is certainly coming. “Nowhere in the world has society been liberated without leaders feeling pressure from the masses and we must prepare for that future,” said the BPP president who also sits on the National Executive Committee of the UDC. He stresses “future” because he says that Batswana have yet to reach a stage where they are motivated enough to exert extreme political pressure on leaders. Giving the 2011 strike by civil servants as an example, he says that the striking workers operated within confined space, which is not how revolutions roll themselves out. He adds though that farther down the road, as the cost of living skyrockets and standards of living plummet, Batswana will naturally take to the streets and agitate for their rights more forcefully. When that happens, “some may die” in the process as the state unleashes its machinery of terror.
In that regard, Molapisi gives the example of the Sharpeville Massacre in the apartheid South Africa. The massacre in question happened on March 21, 1960, in Sharpeville, a black suburb outside of Vereeniging, about fifty miles south of Johannesburg. Some 69 Africans were killed and 186 were wounded, with most shot in the back. However, there is still one ticklish question. In his statement, Molapisi advocates for human sacrifice and we asked him whether he would be willing to sacrifice anyone in his own family, like children or grandchildren. A good many people who commented on his video asked that same question. “I don’t need to sacrifice anyone,” he responds. “I will sacrifice myself. Everybody else would have to volunteer to do so.”