Saturday, March 2, 2024

To those who made it happen but did not live long enough to see it!

By the time you read this article Botswana would have turned fifty years as an independent country.

This is not an easy feat.

It is a huge milestone worth celebrating.

And as has been happening over the last months, self-congratulations and breast-beating will go on for a few more months.

Even if such could at times be really annoying, a little indulgence is surely in order.

This is not time for politics. Having had a continuous run of acrimonious and as ever disingenuous politics since the last elections the milestone we are celebrating this week should unite us ÔÇô even if it’s for a few a few hours.

We should during that put back our knives in their sheaths.

This is not time for overplaying our differences.

Rather it is time to reflect and remember what we have been through as country and as a people.

Fifty years of independence offers all of us a time to reminisce, look at how far we have traveled and perhaps more importantly count our fortunes.

Crucially it is a rare time in the history of any nation when we can look back to remember those of our people who did not make it this far, but whose contribution to our success as a nation has allowed us to get this far as a people.

It is that time in the history of our nation when we should look ahead with hope and humility.

Since Wednesday afternoon I have been persuaded to offer an opinion on the recently announced cabinet reshuffle.

I have defiantly resisted not just such persuasions but also my inner temptations.

Offering such an opinion would inevitably deflect attention away from an important moment at hand ÔÇô which is to celebrate.

There is afterall still a lot of time ahead to dissect the new cabinet formations as we shall indeed be doing in the coming months.

As a nation we should learn to thank the Lord that compared to other countries and nations things have continued to turn right for us.

Despite our unmistakably clear political differences as a people we have never stooped so low as to start killing or maiming those of us who have held different views.

Other countries are immensely inspired by our stability.

We should never at any moment take it for granted.

Peace and stability are the virtues of tolerance; the entrenched foundations created by the founders of this republic.

These were ordinary people who were from every sphere of life.

The biggest mistake we often make is to attribute that which we have as a country exclusively to politicians.

That is not only wrong but also very dangerous.

As in every country, politicians are always important ÔÇô very important by the way. But we often exaggerate their true worth.

Even more dangerous is to think that what good we have is a result of ruling party politicians only.

We should learn to honour our ordinary people.

Additionally we should also learn to acknowledge and recognize the role played by the opposition politicians.

Recently I had the luck to interact with somebody who had watched Sir Seretse Khama at close range.

My host told me how intrigued and pleasantly fascinated he always was to see the ease with which Seretse was in the company of Philip Matante and Kenneth Koma.

Apparently Seretse often invited to the State House people like Matante and Motsamai Mpho just for a casual talk.

Those days of political civility, it turns out are gone.

We have politicians who are deeply contemptuous of the other side.

In a very big way our politicians these days are petty, divisive and obsessively partisan.

When I started my career as a junior journalist I was often touched by the manner in which at a press conference a Head of State would literally handhold a young journalist who was quivering with awe at their attempt to ask a question. A president would implore a young journalist to take their time or even advise them to get in touch with them after the press conference.

Those days are gone.

Today our senior politicians will cross streets just to ridicule or worse still insult a journalist.

We are on a daily basis at each other’s throat, competing to shred the other into pieces.

The level of bad blood between these two tribes is shocking.

From where I stand it is unlikely that genuinely good relations of coexistence between media and government will be restored any time soon.

A press conference by a Head of State is a taboo. There is no excusing the media. The contempt is mutual.

But then contaminated air applies to the nation as a whole.

It often feels like we are a nation in a downward spiral.

Which is why as we celebrate the first fifty years of independence, we should worry about our prospects for the next fifty years.

One gets misty-eyed when they remember how good things used to be.

Just what happened to us for us to lose so much of our humanness in so short a time?

Things were not always like this

May be we are being too harsh on ourselves.

For all our difficulties let’s live in the hope that tomorrow’s Botswana of the next fifty years will be much better than that of the last fifty.

May we all toast to that hope.

This is to those who made it happen but did not live long enough to see the country turn fifty.

Enjoy. Don’t indulge.


Read this week's paper