Mama I made it!

In 2000 my first choice University of Botswana application was Law. Later in the year, I accepted a conditional offer to study Journalism at the then Midrand University. Despite later changing, it’s interesting that in a way, I’m now back home: guided by the law and continuously digging for more.

Mama I made it!😀

Machikilani: Molefe ‘Western’ Lekgetho

“Ba re mosimanyana o a balabalabala

Ba re machikilani o rata dilo

Ba re molamunyana majakathata wee

Ba re dirifinyana chikilani

O tsentseng machikilani bekeng

Sekaphuthini machikilani

Borothonyana machikilani

Ba re o rata dilo majakathata wee…”

-Molefe “Western” Lekgetho

Machikilani, from “I’m Not Here To Hunt Rabbits”

Another fav!

I think Western was not happy with how security guards had treated him, or perhaps how security guards themselves were treated? Was it from observation or from what his friends and family had told him about machikilani o o ratang dilo?

Perhaps he was once a security guard himself and in the song he’s expressing how he was perceived. Or he’s articulating his father’s experiences? Maybe Western didn’t get the security job he applied for and was envious of machikilani?

In line 1 he sets the tone that this won’t be a machikilani praise song, perhaps, at the same time it’s an empathetic tune? ‘Mosimanyana’ implies that Western or people have no respect for this security guard. & since ‘o a balabalabala’ he’s talkative for their liking.

Perhaps now clarifying his message, at the end he asserts: “ke mang wa lelope? Machikilani.”

Writing in the Daily News, Kabo Keaketswe (2013) states that in 1990 Western upgraded from his home-made tin guitar to an acoustic one given to him by Oteng Setlhokwa. Oteng had received the fancy guitar from a man he worked with on the South African mines.

“Go folosa”, le “go latola”, kwa Kgosing

In 2018, during my cousin’s Patlo at the Kanye Main Kgotla, the proceedings were interrupted by two men who had come to announce the death of one elder. A common practice in the village. And my mother later reminded me that the same announcement was made for my father in 2009.

The practice, “go latola kwa Kgosing”, is usually carried out by close family elders to the deceased, or elderly relatives chosen by the elders. Delivering the message to the royal representatives, after greeting the royals, they stated the name of the deceased, his Kgotla, date of death, and the funeral date, and that funeral arrangements are ongoing. Through observation, I realised that the announcement was not recorded. Corroborating with what my 65-year-old mother told me: that the announcement is rather ceremonial and carried out as a mark of respect to the Kgosi.

On the other hand, Patlo, in the village of Kanye, is a traditional practice of asking for a woman’s hand in marriage/marriage negotiations. Though mainly it involves private meetings between the bride and groom’s families, there’s also a process at the Kgotla carried out by the designated royal elder.

During Patlo, the first procedure at the Kgotla is “go pega” whereby the intention of the couple to marry is made public. And the last, “go folosa”, is when the couple is essentially married off by the royal representative before going to complete the Patlo at the bride’s family home. By bogadi or dowry payment and ‘go laya’.

My father, me, time and date

The last gift I bought my late father was a Citizen (I think) gold watch in 2008. I vividly remember him asking me to adjust the bracelet to his wrist and set up the time and date. At the Buchanan Galleries Mall in Glasgow, I was served by a white South African young lady.

Recently, at the Goodman Gallery in London, attending the ‘David Goldblatt Johannesburg 1948-2018’ exhibition, whose book ‘On the Mines’ I draw heavily from for my project, I was assisted by a white South African young lady.

While I still have to set up the time and date, I think I’m on the right track.

“This is not dry!”

One of the great lessons I learnt from my 6 years as a waiter at La Tasca in Aberdeen, Scotland, was never to pretend to know. Quite often, diners would ask me how the wine tasted. While the management encouraged us to pretend to know, it didn’t end well, quite often…

Harry, Meghan and Pula

Judging by the Facebook comments, Batswana are not pleased with Harry and Meghan’s dog name: Pula, inspired by the couple’s connection to Botswana. Pula, the name of the country’s currency, means rain in Setswana. Generally, dogs and houses don’t mix in Botswana.

“Voetsek”…

…is a much more familiar word to most dogs in the Pula scarce nation.

Aberdeen, Scotland

I was initially thrilled to see Aberdeen in the news. Only to gather that it’s lockdown related. I call the Granite City my spiritual home. Spent almost a decade there (2008-2016). Without a doubt, a defining period in my life.

I should visit soon and enjoy some Scotch pie with a chilled Irn-Bru in Union Street.

I want to help: “Why don’t you ask the people you’re trying to save what it is that they need?”

“The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege.” -Teju Cole

Following on Teju Cole, I think that as an African in the diaspora, whose goal is an attempt to also contribute to the development of Botswana, my country that I’ve not lived in for 13 years, I should tread carefuly to avoid perpetuating the White Saviour Industrial Complex. I think white in this instance is not about race, but whiteness, the ideology, that the west is the best.

How can I tread carefully? I think herein lies the answer:

Attending the 2019 ex-migrant miners and beneficiaries’ Kgotla meeting organised by the Botswana Labour Migrants Association (BoLAMA) in Kanye, my interaction with some of the ex-miners, testimonies of some of the ex-miners themselves and their widows, guided my research study. Initially, though unfolding, I only had an interest in ‘simply’ documenting the ex-miners’ general experiences in the South African Mines. However, when they eloquently shared their experiences: both in the mines when they were working and the difficulties they encountered to access social security benefits after the mines, I could not stop to think that at the root of their problems (in the mines and after) was racial injustice: the deliberate racist policies and practices of the apartheid system.

In short, working closely with BoLAMA, an organisation “comprised of ex-miners and their beneficiaries” which has been doing grassroots work by directly providing assistance to ex-miners to access social security benefits. And listening to both the ex-migrant miners and their beneficiaries, together, we can put pressure on the government and other stakeholders to assist ex-miners and their families. God willing.

I don’t want to be a person who “supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening”.

Robala ka Kagiso Mmaagwe T!

Yesterday, my father’s sister, my aunt, Mmaagwe Thato, was laid to rest. Because of her I always had assured accomodation in Gaborone. In 2001, & 2, she signed my Government Sponsorship Memorandum of Agreement as my Guardian. Her husband named me Kgosietsile, meaning the King has arrived.

I’m reminded of the time she, together with her sister, Mmaagwe Mphese, encouraged me to speak as an uncle during her son Mookamedi’s funeral in 2017. Mox was my closest & favourite cousin. I would be representing my father, and Rraagwe Meme, her late brothers. I did speak, just, as a cousin though.

Robala ka Kagiso Mmaagwe T!