Robala ka kagiso Rremogolo

On the cold Sunday afternoon of May 10th 2009, just after we buried my father, his boys were counselled at the male-only Kgotla. I was joined by my brother: we stood in front of the seated elders, who appeared to be enjoying the fire. I remember because there was an argument between some of the elders as to where my brother and I should stand owing to the not so pleasant smoke.

In the middle, flanked by Ralekgotla, senior elders from the Kgotla, as well as my father’s maternal uncle, was the very tall, soft-spoken Rre Obanka Mokhai, my mother’s elder brother, my uncle. Looking at me and my brother, in a soft voice, he said a few words. He advised us to take care of his sister. He also advised us to seek guidance from him as well as elders in the Kgotla at anytime.

Today, his son, Super, will stand before male elders at the Kgotla, and be advised to take care of his sisters and seek advice from not only his uncle but elders in the Kgotla at anytime.

Obanka joins his dear wife, Mma Kgalalelo, who was buried just 4 months ago. My thoughts are with his family: particularly his beloved children, grandchildren, his mother, my mother and his other siblings.

Robala ka kagiso Rremogolo, you have sown the seed.

‪The Role of Music in Society: “Hands off! Hands off my President, tlogela Masisi a buse.”‬

When I was home, at restaurants, weddings, funerals, stadiums, and at the Bus Rank as well as in buses and taxis, it was all “a Khama a tlogele Masisi a buse”.

Many voiced strong feelings towards Khama for not leaving Masisi to rule in peace. Not only reflecting the mood of the morafe but also interpreting it and providing a political platform to extend the debate everywhere: catchy songs were cleverly composed. They became anthems.

“Heela “morwa-Kgama tlogela Masisi a buse, re go diretse tsamaa sentlê, ra go fa mamphemphe a dimphô” (Obakeng Matlou via Facebook).

“Tlogela Masisi a buse, re mono hela, re Sisibetse.”

“Hands off my President, Tlogela Masisi a buse. Bathong molato o motona wa ga Masisi ke go leka go tlhabolola matshelo a Batswana ba sekai – le go lwantsha tshenyetso sechaba.”

Without a doubt, my favourite is “Hands off my President, tlogela Masisi a buse.”

I still remember the day I first heard it. It was on a hot Wednesday afternoon at Koki’s Kitchen. I had just finished my lunch of bogobe, morogo and grilled chicken when one gentleman, with his white corrola Taxi parked nearby, waiting for his take-away, played the song for me on his phone. He stated that he had just received it from his friends via WhatsApp.

Perhaps, “in cases like this, songs are most valuable for telling us what concerned people, how they saw issues, and how they expressed their hopes, ideas, anger and frustrations” (Spitzer and Walters).

#BotswanaElections

Ways of Dying

“Death lives with us everyday. Indeed our ways of dying are our ways of living. Or should I say our ways of living are our ways of dying?”

“It works both ways. Good-bye, Toloki.”

“Good-bye, Noria.”

Ways of Dying

#ZakesMda

I can’t wait for tonight’s Cion by Gregory Maqoma!

Photos: Siphosihle Mkhawanazi via barbican.org.uk

One Way Ticket

I’m buying the one way ticket back to who I am

I’m buying the one way ticket back to me

I’m buying the one way ticket

hope you understand

Tomorrow this time I’ll be me

#BlitzTheAmbassador

#OneWayTicket

Botswana Elections: My mother, her mother and me

Yesterday morning, my mother called me to find out how my job as a polling officer went. She then excitedly told me about the very first time her mother, Ontefetse, voted in the historic self-government elections of 1965.

Following Mokopakgosi (2008), It was also the first ever elections to be contested by political parties in the Bechuanaland Protectorate, as Botswana was then called, to be held under universal adult suffrage. Where all adults, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity and socio-economic status could vote in an election to choose a government to represent them.

I am very privileged to continue hearing first-hand accounts of what life in Botswana was like from the 30s to the 90s from the perspectives of these women. My grandmother often tells us stories of her journey walking from the sleepy village of Sethulo to Kanye village to cast her vote on 1 March 1965. In a high piched voice, she tells us that, days before the election day, on her Sethulo-Kanye long walk, she had a baby on her back and was holding her young boy by hand.

About two weeks ago, while speaking to my mother, over the phone, she laughingly told me that her stressed mother was busy looking for her pink voter registration card.

After she passed the phone to my grandmother, I assured her that she can actually go to her Polling Station to get a replacement card, as long as it’s by the 22nd of October.

Yesterday, my mother told me that Ontefetse mentions my name in delight and that she now has her replacement voting card and next week she is voting, for the 12th time.

My 65-year-old mother, after reminding me that since 1965, Ontefetse has never missed the opportunity to cast her vote, stated that the 94-year-old is also among the first people in Botswana to receive the non-contributory government funded monthly old age pension.

Actually, 2019 marks the first time my mother also started receiving the pension, popularly knows as “Tantabana”.

#BotswanaElections2019

#Botswana

#Ditlhopho

Nigel Watt; David Hughes and me

Back in 2016 I bought a book by David Hughes titled: “The Man with the stick and other tales from a bar in Botswana” from Amazon.

In July 2019, at the Africa Writes Festival, British Library, an elderly white gentleman sat next to me. At the end of the session, guided by my Zebras All Kasi top he asked whether I come from Botswana.

He would tell me that he is a publisher and that they have a book titled: “The Man with the stick and other tales from a bar in Botswana”. We spoke about the author David Hughes from Manchester who was a teacher at Shashe River School, Tonota, near to the Flamingo Bar.

He stated that, unfortunately, David passed just last year.

Nigel would later invite me for lunch at his house. Where I met with Sue and Nick. Sue tells me she was a librarian in Gaborone back in the 60s. And Nick travels to Botswana often for work. The couple was actually in Chobe last year.

Nigel read History at St. John’s College, University of Cambridge, in 1959. He used to work for International Voluntary Service (IVS), and became its General Secretary. Nigel tells me he knows Kanye and they (IVS) used to send nurses and other volunteers there back in the 70s and 80s.

He was also Director of the Africa Centre in London.

Today, Nigel will be my guest at the Alexander McCall Smith Botswana event.