First People of the Kalahari leader, Roy Sesana, alleges that he lost a lot of money when he was forcibly evicted from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in 2002.
“I lost P200 000,” Sesana says on a YouTube video clip that Sunday Standard chanced upon last week.
He was abroad when he made this allegation – it is unclear where but at one point the simultaneous interpretation voice says “I want the UN to help.”
Wearing his trademark headband with horns, Sesana is making his plea in Setswana which is simultaneously translated into English by a Motswana woman. The statement was filmed by Rebecca Sommer for Earth Peoples. To an extent, Sesana garners the international support he has on the basis of statements he makes.
For a detail that astounding, the alleged theft of a sum of money that substantial was neither shared with the police nor the local media whom Sesana has a very good relationship with. The theft did not form part of his affidavit when he led a court case against the government to challenge the eviction of Basarwa from the CKGR. Away in Molapo, a settlement inside the game reserve which does not have cellphone coverage, Sesana was unavailable for comment at press time.
When asked if he knew anything about the missing money, an FPK activist himself posed in a tone of voice laced with incredulity: “Roy? P200 000?”
This detail is also missing from Tears for My Land, a new book by a Mosarwa activist, Kuela Kiema. The book was published by Mmegi Publishing House this year and launched late last month at the University of Botswana.
Sesana’s lifestory, as told in the book, is that he is a Dxanakhoe who was born in Molapo in an unspecified year. As a young man he travelled extensively in the CKGR to visit and trade with other tribes. In addition to his mother tongue ÔÇô Dxana ÔÇô he also speaks Dcui, Tsila, Dxolo, Naro, Setswana, Shekgalagari and Kalanga.
Sesana has no western education but according to Kiema, is imbued with a deep knowledge of the philosophy and mythology surrounding Kua hunting and gathering practices.
“He uses all the traditional hunting methods and knows all about medicinal and edible plants,” Kiema writes.
The FPK leader’s working life began in Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe) in tobacco plantations where, according to Kiema, “he was treated like a dog.” When he visited Molapo, he would bring tobacco which he sold to neighbouring villages. After Southern Rhodesia, Sesana worked in the South African mines for eight years. It was during this time that he acquired Fanagaloo, a lingua franca used exclusively in South African mines. When off-duty, he would often participate in the “vicious street fights”, a gruesome spectacle organised by the miners themselves as entertainment.
The book says of these fights: “Sesana has never forgotten how he was beaten by Swazis, Xhosas, Manyasas and Zulus. He received stab wounds many times to both his body and his head. It didn’t always go against him though, and he beat many of those who challenged him.”
Tears For My Land suggests that Sesana’s stewardship of the FPK has been something of a disaster. It turns out that there has long been regional rivalry in CKGR between the Western Group and Eastern Group. Under Sesana, FPK has become “an informal club without professional or managerial procedures”, has “avoided auditors and accountants, and all office-holders are males from New Xade,” it no longer represents the interests of all CKGR Basarwa but “only the interests of the Western Group (people from Molapo, Metsiamanong, Gugamma and Mothomelo).” There are some, the book says, who view FPK as “a duopoly of Roy Sesana and Jumanda Gakelebotse.” Kiema says that Sesana has stated that he sees himself as the “saviour” instead of “voice” of the people.
That notwithstanding, Kiema’s book declares Sesana a hero in the league of Nelson Mandela.