The untimely death of Gomolemo Motswaledi has left the nation in utter shock. His death has, without doubt, left his family and friends in sheer devastation. The nation has lost an icon. The family has lost a son, brother and father. No words can best describe the loss suffered by our nation and the family of Motswaledi. Though inevitable, when death robs us of people in the mould of Motswaledi, the shock and disbelief become more pronounced. Questions on why it had to be him were always bound to arise.
Look, Motswaledi was no ordinary citizen. He meant a lot to a lot of people. He was not just a public figure. He was a rare one. He was loved by his followers. He was admired by his opponents. He had dedicated his life to national service. He spent most of his time on national service than he did his social or family life. His family had, I would have thought, loaned him to the public. I want to believe his family had come to terms with the fact Motswaledi no longer exclusively belonged to them but they shared him with the public. It would not surprise me to find out that Motswaledi spent more time with his peers more than he did with his family.
It happens with all public figures. This explains why the public always takes interest in what public figures do or say. It is for this reason that public figures do not carry out their everyday lives as carefree as all of us. They live their lives in a way that seeks to inspire those who aspire to be like them. When a public figure is happy, the joy is not only shared by his or her family but is even felt among the people who follow and admire him. When public figures go through a rough patch in their lives, their pain extends to their followers. It is a natural phenomenon that a leader would be the centre of news and conversations either for their good or bad deeds. When you do wrong as a public figure, people will talk about you, in the same way they would when you do good. By now you must be asking yourself what I am on about or what point am I trying to put forward. Well, I have come across reports indicating that Motswaledi’s family was not pleased at how the death of their son was relayed to the public.
According to the reports, the family’s spokesperson finds fault in how quick the death of Motswaledi was broken out to the public. Apparently, the family is not happy that people posted about Motswaledi’s death on social media platforms. They are not happy that some private radio stations were quick to announce the death of their son. If they had their way, the public should have been kept in the dark about the passing on of Motswaledi until such time that the whole family had been informed. I beg to differ. While I fully respect their views, I strongly don’t agree Motswaledi’s death had to be treated their way. This is so because, like I have already argued, Motswaledi belonged to the nation. He was public property, so to speak. In this era of advanced information technology, where news travels at the speed of lightning, it is very unreasonable to expect people to keep quiet about the death of someone for long.
And in this case it wasn’t just somebody. It was Gomolemo Motswaledi. Like I said, I fully understand the family’s gripe. However, the sad reality is there is no how people could have kept his death a secret. It comes with our social standing. The death of Sonny Serite can take some time to reach the public because I am not a public figure. Unfortunately the same indulgence doesn’t extend to public figures like Motswaledi. It comes with the territory. It is the painful price that the families of public figures have to pay. Motswaledi knew and understood his public standing and what it came with. He knew his life, death, failures and achievements would always attract the interest of the public. I therefore wish to reach out to his family and assure them that Motswaledi would not share in their displeasure and disappointment at how his death was announced to the public. He lived for the public. He was happy to see the public happy. He was sad when the public showed sadness. To prove that the public treated Motswaledi as their property, they always cared for him. They rose to their feet whenever he took to the podium as a sign of their respect for him.
They cried when he was vilified by President Khama, as a way to show their love and empathy. After he lost his court case against Khama and his property was put up for auction, his ‘owners’, that is the public, rose to the occasion and paid off his debts. Even in death, the public continues to show their support. Now, how do you want to sideline such a group which clearly played an integral part in Motswaledi’s life? It is my hope that this piece will motivate all public figures to explain to their families about this unfortunate part of being a public figure. We still have plenty of public figures and the sad reality is that they are all destined for the same route taken by Motswaledi. They too will eventually die and their deaths will be splashed all over media platforms, even before their next of kin get wind of their demise. Tell your families; it comes with the territory. May the beautiful soul of Sir G find eternal peace.
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