Monday, May 16, 2022

My encounter, of the last time, with Gomolemo Motswaledi

The call from the chap from Borolong came at about 11am,  reminding me to go and pick  his partner from the Indaba Lodge. We had an appointment  with David Kartze, the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration at 2:30 pm. David Katze  is the man who manages about a  billion pula UB  budget and assets worth hundreds  of millions. He was  Gomolemo’s  boss. As an Executive Assistant, Gomolemo’s job was to manage Mr Kazte.  I check Gomolemo’s office, he is not there. I check the DVC secretary, and she tells me that there won’t be any meeting at 2:30pm as the DVC is tied  up on something very urgent. She apologizes. I have to tell the chap from Borolong  and the one from Jhb that there won’t be any meeting. How the heck am I going to break the news?


Then I drive to the small  mall  opposite Camp’s primary school and buy myself some spykos. Half way through my spykos, I see a lanky figure passing by. It is Gomolemo. I stop eating and go after him. With the plastic knife in my hand, I am going to kidnap him and take him to Indaba Lodge to break the news. He does not resist.   “Ok mogolle, let me do some transaction and I will come with you’.  It is about 2:15 pm and those guys still think there is going to be a meeting. After the transaction he joins me. ‘Ok mogolle, let’s  go.’ As he gets near his car, I realize how tall he is and just how tiny the car is. But somehow he manages to disappear into the Audi A3 with ease. I follow him.  At River Walk junction he makes the correct right turn, but he misses the Shell turnoff opposite Naledi Motors. “Mxm, o tla ipona’ I say to myself.  His car eventually turns left  at the next junction, and heads back to the lodge. A lanky frame materializes from the tiny Audi. We meet with the guests. He explains to them courteously how his boss is on a deadline as Council is meeting the following day, and he is trying to get his figures right. He successfully defends his boss and completely disarms the guests with his diplomacy. We part company; he is going to ‘organize’ another meeting for us. Once again he disappears into the Audi. That was the last time I saw Gomolemo alive.


Some few days later, an  SMS  arrives. ‘ke utwa gotwe Motswaledi is late’ the time is 11:02:34 on the 30th July, 2014. Ke Lebogang from Serowe. ‘Teacher batho’, I say to myself, thinking of his father Thatayaone. He taught many of us Setswana. I had always told Gomolemo that he did not come anywhere near Thatayaone’ s command of Setswana language. A few seconds later a flash crosses mind and I step out of the meeting to check with my caller. He tells me “kana ke raya Gomolemo, and not the father”  I am just stunned. As I turn around, now dizzy, I see to Dr Batlang  Comma Serema, aka  Dr Comma and /or Dr Koma.  I tell him the tragic news. He is no less stunned. I call Harry Mothei, and he confirms the bad news.  Comma phones  a number. The tragic news is confirmed. O ile motho, ga a na go boa, ke rona re  tla mo latelang!


I flashed back to 2010, the tumultuous year in the BDP and Motswaledi’s political life. I remember him being unceremoniously kicked out of the party he loves, where he was the Secretary General, then disbarred form standing for primary elections.  Before they went to Kanye, I had a conversation with Gomolemo in which I pointed out to him that with the advent of Ian Khama, the BDP will be reduced to a ruling party in name only. I said the same to Lesedi Mmusi. None of them believed me.  Batswana say ‘e na mashi, ga e  itsale’ (ke Setswna sa bo Thatayaone Motswaledi). 


You see, I did not know Sir G was going to go so soon, so tragically and so young. I remember having a chat with him after the passing of ‘Swift’ Mpoloka. Sir G said of Swift  “He was a legend in his lifetime,  and such men are rare’.  With his passing, I realized   Sir G could have been describing himself.  Had I known that he would go so soon, and him being such an  accomplished singer and song writer, I would have composed him a song and sung it at his funeral. If I could, I would inscribe the following epitaph on his tombstone, with due acknowledgement to Labi Siffre:

The higher HE built the barriers, the taller Sir G became

The farther HE took his rights away, the faster Sir G  ran.


The more HE refused to hear his voice, the louder Sir G sang

HE  denied Sir G’s  place  in time, HE  thought Sir G’s   pride was gone,


And Sir G sang to him  “the more you refuse to hear my voice, the louder I will sing


You can’t hide behind the hills of Seleka  and   squander  wealth that’s mine.


One day, just one day, your lies will come tumbling


Then Sir G  to  turned to bo-Ndaba and others and commanded:


Brothers and sisters,  when  HE  insists  we are not good enough,  just look him in  the eye and say, we are going to do it any way, we are going to do it any way, and I  know we can make it.

Yes, there was something inside    Sir G  that was so strong.


On Saturday  2nd of August  I was in Serowe.  For the first time in many years, I skipped  going to my father’s  grave in Botalaote cemetery. I decided  to go and see  my former teacher Thatayaone Motswaledi,  aka Tax, for all that it was worth. He is with his childhood buddy, Rre Malefho, the father to Dr Koleatamo Malefho.  Botsalo Ntuane,  now back with the BDP is also there,  and looking very discomfited. He soon disappears.   How do you look a parent in the eye when they have just lost a child?  But lo and behold,  Tax  was  the one who comforted me, and I guess thousands of other mourners.  Can you imagine the bereaved comforting  the mourners!  Amazing man, Tax is.   I leave  the house feeling much better. For there is  also something inside Tax that is  so strong. E anya e leletse, e ruta  e maleng!  (ke Setswana sa bo Thatayaone).  Then I remembered John Donne Holy Sonnet 10 from my undergraduate days at UBS as literature student:


Death be not proud, though some have called thee; Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow; Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me. Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men.


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