Friday, May 24, 2024

“There is no way Batswana can be the unhappiest people on earth”

It was with utter amazement and, I must say, a sneer when I read the article in your 17th June edition in which it is reported that ‘Batswana are the unhappiest people in the world’. You gotta be kidding, surely they can’t be serious. I wonder what type of cigarette they smoke! If that study / report can be believed then we can deduce that those who were polled can be classified as ‘the most ungrateful spoiled brats in the world’.

I don’t know who carried out these sample / random surveys and what methodology was used, but based on these findings I find these results astonishing and simply unbelievable. Surely, this must be some kind of sick joke.

The question in my mind is what are they unhappy about? The only logical answer I can come up with is that they are unhappy with themselves and their own lack of ambition and achievement. Happiness is a state of mind – their minds must surely be messed up.

I am sure that there will be some people who may try to ridicule me or will be critical of me by suggesting that I live a ‘privileged’ life, whatever that means, therefore cannot see the daily suffering of others. However, this is not about me versus the many poor people that we have in our society who have to eke out a daily living and existence, at times not knowing where their next meal will be coming from or where they will rest their weary head to sleep.

My angle of ‘ungrateful spoilt brats’ comes from the fact that God Almighty has blessed Botswana with so many blessings that we fail to even acknowledge or appreciate them. Yes, we do have problems in our society, and yes there are poor amongst us, and yes there are those without proper food and shelter and many of life’s necessities. But this report is truly a very sad reflection upon us as a nation because it highlights the ungratefulness of some of us. I have had the benefit of travelling extensively to many parts of the world and I have seen suffering that people of the continent and beyond have to endure in their daily struggles ÔÇô believe me ours pale in comparison.

As a small sample list: How many countries in the world can boast of virtually free universal Primary and Secondary education; how many can boast of the ease and access to university and tertiary education; how many countries can boast of virtually free access to health and medical facilities; how many countries can boast of a reasonably good road access infrastructure; how many countries can boast of access to clean potable water, electricity and communications? But best still is that we live in peace without the spectre of war hanging over our heads.

By stating the above I by no means suggest that we have been provided the best nor do I suggest that everybody has easy access to these services, but in comparison to many countries, especially on the African continent we are miles ahead. Fortunately Botswana has not seen the effects of mass starvation and deaths, nor the haunting spectre of a bony starving child who is so hungry that he cannot even eat the food when it is given to him by aid agencies, or how about a mother who is starved and her body so emaciated that it cannot even produce milk to feed her baby; or the deadly effects of war and strife that we read about and see on the TV screens on a daily basis.

We just have to go north of us into Africa to see and make a comparison of what we enjoy here and take for granted versus what they have to endure on a daily basis just to survive. A foreigner once told me that we are a lucky nation because in Botswana we don’t have to struggle like other Nations for many things, we did not even have to fight for our independence – it was handed to us on a plate, hence we have developed a culture of easy expectation therefore we have become a ‘spoilt’ nation. I did not take offence to this statement because it was done in all honesty and it did ring true, we need just look around us. Countries that were ravaged by the wars for independence and for political power, go through or went through a cycle of untold human suffering and sacrifice therefore appreciate their hard earned independence.

Ask any Somali, Ethiopian, Sudanese or any other refugee from Africa why they left their homes; yet we never stop to say Thank You God that we did not have to struggle for our independence nor are we ravaged by war and internecine fighting. Yet we cannot even stop for a moment to show our gratitude to our Lord for His Blessings. How ungrateful are we?

This lack of appreciation is vividly shown by the burgeoning number of so-called “doctors” and of late “prophets”, they can best be described as charlatans, who spawn new churches on a daily bases simply by promising miracles, cures and who promise instant riches (read some newspaper smalls adverts to appreciate what I mean). These people work on our naivety and, regrettably, our in-built ‘culture of easy expectation’ to milk many people of their money ÔÇô yet we still find people flocking to them. So I suppose when the potions and the lucky charms don’t work and bring in the easy money promised, it is then that we have unhappiness……

As humans, we all have high expectations and wishes to live a better life but unfortunately we seem to have lost our moral and religious compass along the way and have taken to the ways of the world and its many attractions. We are no longer happy that at least we have clothes to wear ÔÇô no, it must be a specific label. While we complain about the taste of our food ÔÇô at least we have food but there are countless out there hungry for a scrap of bread.

I can only say to those whinges who were polled to stop and reflect on the many blessings that they have, start with yourself; if you can see, thank God that you have eyes, if you can walk, thank God that you have legs, if you can hear, thank God that you are not deaf…if you can accept and appreciate those blessings of life it is only then that you can be thankful, thereafter you will have no valid claim to be unhappy.

I can only say to my fellow countrymen, be thankful, be grateful and most of all appreciate what we have been blessed with. We are unhappy because we chose to be so. The only way we can change our lives is to get rid of the attitude that we have developed and adopted as a new standard for ourselves. That standard is mediocrity ÔÇô we no longer aim to be the best…why should we because we take it for granted that someone else will do it for us, for free.


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