Master of Ceremonies, my fellow countrymen and women, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, good evening. I humbly thank you for giving me this opportunity to pay tribute to Honourable Dumelang Saleshando, the MP for Gaborone Central and Publicity Secretary for the Botswana Congress Party (BCP).
First and foremost, I express my profound gratitude and commendation for your positive gesture of gathering here tonight to celebrate the glorious achievement of your young superhero and his industrious support group. It’s vitally important that as Batswana we should genuinely demonstrate our attitude of gratitude whenever our compatriots deliver diligent and scintillating performance.
It’s self-evident that Saleshando’s gallant and meritorious service to the electorate in the past five years have not only immensely impressed his constituents and members of his party; he has also been widely appreciated by other citizens, including members of other political parties. The BCP should joyfully give itself a pat on the back for having offered a go-getter who is still exuding gargantuan potential for superior service to the nation.
If you remember, on the eve of the 2004 elections, I wrote to the Midweek Sun (October 27, 2004) confidently supporting Saleshando’s candidacy.
I outlined major reasons upon which I exhorted the electorate to take him to parliament. My justification for his candidacy included his research and debating prowess, self-assertiveness, positive mental outlook, competitive angst, networking skills, resilience, a burning desire to serve others, cooperative attitude, emotional maturity and a good sense of humour.
When I received the invitation to speak here tonight, I reviewed the letter and concluded that Saleshando has acquitted himself according to all the critical points I used to recommend him to the electorate.
Frankly speaking, he has performed beyond my expectation. I profusely praise him for his commitment and dedication. I know that he’s a self-effacing achiever, but allow me, Master of Ceremonies, to award him a First Class for his splendid performance. And since he consistently displayed professional integrity throughout his tenure as MP, once again I humbly entreat his constituents to resend him to parliament in October.
This will afford him a golden chance to unleash the rest of his potential.
I have known Saleshando since his early boyhood, but my interaction with him was negligible. We lived in Selibe-Phikwe where our political socialisation started under the influence of BNF stalwarts like Gil Saleshando and Gaone Chamme. But before I knew Dumelang, I got exposed to his mum and dad from whom I picked some good lessons. Both his parents were public-spirited citizens.
In effect, his mother, who was a health worker, reinforced my spirit of volunteerism when I was serving as a member of the Boy Scout Movement.
When Dumelang came to the University of Botswana, I was already teaching there. I had not seen him for many years. Lo and behold, he had grown physically and intellectually too fast. I was absolutely amazed at his maturity and responsibility when he worked for a student organisation called AESEC.
He came across like an experienced manager. At one point he showed me a computer and other impressive equipment that he and his colleagues had creatively acquired from the business community.
My assessment is that Dumelang’s leadership skills and the good results he has achieved so far are traceable to his sound upbringing. He had a solid foundation in his family.
Tonight I urge every single one of us here to raise children well so that they may develop positive self-concept and a sense of destiny at a tender age.
We should take care of them, but we should not pamper and spoil them. We should teach them to dream big. Let us challenge them so that they may know how to find the answers to their problems. Let us get them to exercise leadership at a personal level, so that they may not become dependent on other people.
The name Dumelang has a very important meaning. It means “greetings to you”, which has the connotation of civility and humility (or botho). Significantly, it means “believe” or “have faith” in God. Incidentally, Dumelang comes from a Christian background.
I encourage him to continue to walk in step with God, our eternal Father. Even though his assignments are many, heavy and stressful, he should not look back, falter and backslide.
We’ve heard that it’s impossible to please God without faith (Hebrew 11:6). In Mark 9:23 Jesus tells us that everything is possible to he who believes.
I have been impressed by Dumelang’s self-confidence, which emanates from his progressive faith. Even at a young age, like David, whose supreme confidence and determination enabled him to defeat Goaliath, Dumelang believed that he could win the BCP primaries and proceed to challenge and win against his older and experienced rivals in the BDP and BNF. And when he got to parliament, he didn’t develop “minority phobia”. Instead, he behaved like the prophet Elisha who overpowered his numerically strong Syrian attackers, banking on the fact that “greater is He who is in me than he who’s in the world” (1John 4:4).
At this juncture I would like the entire BCP hierarchy to faithfully subordinate itself to the most High God. Any group of people who want to run a country successfully can only get ahead if they understand God’s mysteries and unconditionally cooperate with Him. Even political power comes from God. If leaders go against His will, He may withdraw it at His own time.
You should pray as individuals and a collective for the BCP, the government and the entire nation. Ask God to give you excellent wisdom and understanding so that you may use your power and influence properly, and bring peace, unity, prosperity and good order in the BCP and Botswana.
You should always remember Jesus’ warning to all and sundry: “apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
My fellow Batswana, it’s important to recognise that Dumelang’s accomplishments are a product of teamship and cooperacy. The youth who organised this event are incredibly cooperative and industrious.
Not long ago, they enthusiastically organised a workshop where they unanimously vowed to work as an intact team, saying the word TEAM means Together Everyone Achieves More.
Dumelang’s dramatic and overwhelming success is their success. We give them every encouragement to serve Batswana with diligence, in the hope that God will abundantly bless their indefatigable efforts. The party elders should help them so that they can become effective leaders today and not tomorrow.
I should also thank Mrs Dineo Dumelang.
The invaluable support she patiently gives her husband has enabled him to become the political giant he is. Truly, behind every successful man is an invisible awesome woman.
I should also acknowledge many other Batswana who voted for Dumelang and supported his marvellous work. Some of these people are just friends who are not attached to political parties. They genuinely love the country and those who serve it with impeccable loyalty.
Dumelang, his high impact team, and the entire BCP machinery should not fail and disappoint them. They should not unconsciously drift into passivity, complacency and a sense of arrogant self-righteousness. True and durable victory belongs to people who are unusually vigilant and self-critical.
Finally, as the BCP youth brace themselves for the general elections, they should be sensitive to the fact that our culture of democracy is under serious threat from short-sighted and confused people who exalt some individuals at the expense of national institutions. It’s necessary that we should reconstruct and strengthen our institutions, so that even when such individuals are not around the institutions can continue to function effectively.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen.
May you enjoy the good food and networking. Peace be with you!
*The speech was presented at a recent BCP Youth event to thank and recognise MP Saleshando for his performance over the last five years in Parliament