The dawn of an era

28th March 2018


By Ernest Moloi -

The royal presidency has come to a close. It’s not for the first time it happens. In 1980, Botswana went through a similar experience with the demise of founding President, Sir Seretse Khama and the ascendancy of his Vice President, Sir Ketumile Masire. BaTswana were agitated. It was as if the world had come to an end. But of all the tribes, BaNgwato were the most perturbed. In fact they couldn’t come to terms with the reality that henceforth they’d be ruled by a commoner from the south and that the national currency - Pula -would bear his portrait!

It was anathema! Yet that’s the nature of politics. Politicians are elected but Kings are born. It’s the latter’s birthright to rule. Hence, BaNgwato’s apprehension at the time was understandable. After all, Seretse Kgama was the first President of the independent republic, he was their Kgosi and they had no benefit of any precedent. Masire will go down in history as the only president that ever endured the worst torment, worst jeers and un-acceptance from sections of our ignorant society. Once again, March 27th 2018 marked a turning point in our history. Another Kgama, Lt. Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama – son of the founding president, had come to Serowe to bid Batswana farewell as he steps down at the end of his term on March 31st to give way to his Vice President Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi. But, he had also come to the Serowe Kgotla to reclaim his royal throne.

Thank God, this time we have a precedent. Batswana at large now understand how republicanism operates; they welcomed Masisi with a thunderous applause! This is surely a good sign. Not only that, Kgama also found it in his good heart to introduce Masisi as his successor to the tribe and appealed to them, as he has done with all other tribes throughout the country during his farewell tours, to lend him their support in his national work as president, which he assumes on April 1. Thus, we can safely say Masisi has the blessings of the BaNgwato, which are the power brokers in the Botswana Democratic Party by virtue of the Central District demography. And this brings me to the second point. Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane has kept GaMmangwato together despite intermittent struggles for independence that some of these tribes under BaNgwato have staged.

The Basarwa, the Babirwa, the BaTswapong the BaKalanga and other tribal groupings found in the Central District have groaned under the leadership of BaNgwato and agitated for self rule. But somehow, Kgosi Kgamane has prevailed over them and eventually handed them to Kgama at the Serowe Kgotla. It was a subtle and very sensitive undertaking, which probably was lost to many observers! But when Kgamane asked all the diKgosi of these tribes that report to Serowe to indicate their presence at the Kgotla by raising their hands, he was actually telling Kgamas, “Here are your people, KgosiKgolo.”

And as I told you in my last instalment, Kgama will preside over a Kingdom, initially this will be the GaMmangwato Kingdom, which he will rule from Serowe or better still, from Mosu, which is significant in BaNgwato’s history for its association with Mma Kgosi (Mmabesi a Kgama). And if he wills it, Kgama may even surmount the audacity to extend the frontiers of this Kingdom across the entire country. Mind you, it was not for nothing that during his Presidency he visited every tribal grouping and sat over a bonfire at their diKgotla with village elders learning their history, traditions and customs! In SeTswana Kgotla ke pheko ya motse hence the maxim, ‘Mosalagae mollo wa kgotla ose time!

By visiting all of these diKgotla, Kgama was basically installing his sovereignty over the country. And again this explains why in the tradition of BaNgwato, he was draped in a lion’s skin to signify his kinship over all the other tribes! Thus, for the discerning, March 27th 2018 was an affirmation of Sir Seretse Kgama’s desire to rule this country for eternity, which he’s said to have expressed in 1979 when he installed Ian Kgama as Kgosikgolo of BaNgwato! The outpouring of love that BaTswana have shown Kgama as he bid them farewell is proof enough that the people love the man; just as the number of gifts they have provided him shows – ‘di ka pekisa motho’ but are certainly gifts befitting of a King! Kgama promised he’ll first go and prepare for his livestock in his newfound vocation a s an unwilling farmer, before he embarks on his duties as Kgosikgolo, which will entail addressing all the grievances of the tribes under BaNgwagto, which Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane would have been appraised of. Anyways, we welcome you President Mokgweetsi Masisi and our First Lady Mma Atsile.

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