Monday, July 15, 2024

When shall this country honour and acknowledge Sir Ketumile?

There is considerable truth in an assertion that somehow Botswana Government has been slow, indeed reluctant to recognize the contributions of former President Sir Ketumile Masire.

An impression has been created that there are people in power who would rather not even acknowledge the fact that Sir Ketumile is still alive.

No attempt, at least to our knowledge has been made to any national institution after Masire.

Except for a muddled debate in parliament with a few members calling for a new university to be named after the former President, there has been no concerted effort by government to recognize Sir Ketumile.

There is no clarity just why such a visibly pioneering political figure could have been overlooked for so long by people who could rightly be called his political descendants.

There has been an assertion in the past that it was a government policy not to name any institution or landmark after a person who is still alive.

Ironically, this directive, if it still holds must have had its roots during Masire’s time.

It’s difficult to fathom its logic.

If such a policy is indeed alive, how then is it that we have streets named after such a diverse mix of characters like Sam Nujoma, Mobotu Sese Seko, King Sobhuza, Julius Nyerere, Nelson Mandela and Kenneth Kaunda, who as we can clearly see some of them are still alive.

Is our government really waiting for Masire to die before they can name some dusty street by his name?

It would be false modesty and indeed contorted sentimentality to say that a national hero has to die first before we can recognize them as such by way of naming a national institution after them.

If it’s Masire’s death we all are waiting for then that is tragically shameful.

Masire is a global icon.

Internationally, he is regarded as a phenomenon.

He moves at ease among the world’s greatest. But at home we seem, at best to take him for a given and at worst as an intrusive old man who refuses to retire or even to die.

I doubt this is how countries across the globe treat their heroes.

Certainly not how South Africa treats their Nelson Mandela, or how Tanzania ever treated their Mwalimu Nyerere and certainly not how India would have treated Mahatma Gandhi.

A hero abroad, how can it be that at home a government which is controlled by a party he created and led for more than a generation could have been so steadfast in its refusal to recognize the man’s greatness?

It boggles the mind.

Quite fittingly the country has recognized the founding President by naming after him such key landmarks like the international airport and the army headquarters.

But Sir Seretse Khama was not alone in the creation of this republic.

His right-hand man, who was much more of a foot soldier happens to be the same Masire who our government and its advisors seem too happy to disregard as an unwelcome relic from another era.

How pathetic!

It really is time our government looked at itself to assess if its treatment of the former President has been morally right.

There is something particularly horrific with a country that proudly tells the world that it wants its heroes to first die before they can be formally recognized as national heroes.

And that is exactly our policy as it stands.

On a different but related note, is it a coincidence that none of Masire’s blood children can today be seen seated at the top table, with that place is increasingly dominated by a single tribal clan ÔÇô just food for thought?

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