Farewell my President, call us over for some parting barbecue

06th April 2018
FROM ME TO YOU
Column

...

By Joe-Brown -


Dear Morwa Kgama

Dumela tlhe Morwa Kgama. I write this brief to you a sad man. I mean, tears of sadness and dejection swell and well up my eyes as I put pen to paper to express how disillusioned I am that you left us in the lurch at the start of April. You know I still can’t believe you are gone? Do you really mean you are no longer Big Brother as I used to call you? Nna ga ke dumele. In fact, I thought that all I saw happeing inside Parliament on April 1 was just another of your April Fool pranks. I know you were supposed to step down from the presidency after ten years, but through time, many have led me to believe you would be going nowhere. I have seen newspaper headlines that suggested you would extend your term of office just like those selfish African leaders you never ceased to scold at your kgotla meetings. There was a time I was worried but I had become used to the idea that you would not be stepping down.

I had actally made peace with it and was looking forward to another ten years of you at the State House. I remember even the milder headlines that suggested you would be promoted further to become the army commander after the presidency, where you would be in charge of everything, including commanding the new president on what to do and what not to do. For some reason I had already prepared myself for that new dispensation. I therefore do not know what to make of your exit. After so much promise of having you linger on, I feel disappointed that you chose to go. And I am surprised you did not even appoint your brother to the position of Vice President as many experts made us believe. I had heard of your grand plan of ensuring the presidency continues to revolve around the Kgama family, where you would appoint TK your deputy so that when you leave, you were assured of another Kgama in the presidency. Why all these things did not happen as reported and predicted I still wonder.

Could it mean you chickened out of the grand plan out of fear of some other more powerful force than you? Or is it just that people ba ne ba go phaphela fela with that power talk? I know you not to be a coward Morwa Kgama, no one could have scared you off what you wanted. If you really wanted to continue ruling beyond ten years, you would easily do that. You were that powerful, and that is why you always had things you own way, constitution or no constitution. Nothing was bigger than you, not even these NDP 10s and 11s and whatever NDP number, could stop you getting something done at whatever cost, as long as it pleased you and served a grand purpose only known by yourself. So I doubt any mortal could stop you extending your term if you so wished. People were just telling us lies about you. And talking about that, kana I grew up knowing you to be some super trooper human kind of a being that could not be defeated or conquered – like the starring actor in a combat movie. How true those tales were I am yet to find out.

But I faintly remember hearing of how you single-handedly defeated the Rhodesian army ya ga Ian Smith who had tried to take over our country. I grew up knowing that Ian Kgama was this superman who could literally fly and even turn himself into a fly when pushed to a corner somewhere up there in the sky. The people who told us these stories about your heroism always had vivid descriptions of your superhuman escapades that we almost saw you in 3D, darting about in the air in missile and bullet dodging maneuvers that always left the enemy in awe. Whenever they had hit you, we were told, you would from somewhere pour out some pint of blood red paint to fool the enemy into thinking you were badly injured, before pouncing on them again and finishing them off. Actually in that era of these heroic stories about you, you were more popular with the young generation than even the state president, and many young boys dreamed of joining the army to go emulate you. Perhaps that is how you have earned the nickname ‘Super.’ You were such an enigma – a starring character of action packed movies - and when we were told you were quitting the army for politics, it almost felt like the whole Botswana Defence Force was going to be weakened and become vulnerable to attacks from outsiders.

In your time as Brigadier Ian Kgama, every kid would fight their way through a forest of people and other soldiers to have a glance at you, especially at the Gaborone International Trade Fair that we only knew then as ‘Show.’ The only place we knew then ko Showng was the army enclave where many of us were inspired to become soldiers. Whenever we performed some heroics in the streets, we would shout in victorious excitement and proclaim ourselves Ian Kgamas. How you managed to just walk into Ian Smith’s den and pulled him by the beard as we were told you would when angry, still beats me. You were such an inspiration Biggie. In fact you continued to inspire people into unprecedented displays of rare talent even when you were State President. As President, you made every man stand on their toes. You awakened hidden talents in all spheres of life. Many did not even know they could sing and dance until you came along. A lot had never known foul language against a sitting president until you came along. Many suddenly learnt the language of defiance as well as resilience, and several developed the nerve of resistance while the spirit of unionism and activism blossomed albeit in a cage, under your watch. It was also under your patronage that some of us got to know about Polka dance and its related tunes. The Khawa Dune Challenge became a hit thanks to your active participation that saw you win every quadbike race with aplomb.

And, in unprecedented fashion, people suddenly became conscious of what they said about the president, especially in public. You even educated us: it was under your rule that we got to learn terms like 'extrajudicial.'  Another word I learnt under you was 'narcissism.' People used this word a lot to describe the atmosphere you created and  I had to find out what it meant. I felt they were exaggerating to use that term and its relatives to describe you tenure. You were so much better than that. You were a good president. So much better than Kabila, Idi Amin, Botha and Sadam. Yet they called you a dictator. Batswana are never thankful. All they know is punch holes in every plan or intension you had about our country.

And wonderful plans you had for this country Morwa Kgama. If talking was doing, under your presidency we would have surpassed Dubai in terms of developments. Yet somehow the plans always failed implementation. Now you are gone and many are yet to be implemented. You actually made promises to many, including the wretched of earth who today look up to Sisiboy to deliver those promises. Many now say Sisiboy should continue delivering the houses, the blankets, diphaphatha, Tirelo Sechaba, Ipelegeng and LIMID among others. I guess they will also want him to continue charging people for drinking too much beer; to continue ensuring people sleep early; to ensure people are careful what they say during their telephone conversations; and to ensure no resurrection of the PSBC among others of your presidency’s milestones. I pity him the son of Edison Masisi because many, especially the rural area dweller, will look at him and expect that he too does the walkabouts that made you popular with the ordinary masses.

I imagine him emulating you as in giving the youngsters of Old Naledi some wheelbarrow rides and buying magwinya from the nearby dimausu. But unlike you, I expect him to engage the media face to face, with the kind of President’s press conferences seen mostly in the USA; but I can’t imagine him defying your order to stifle the newspapers of business.
I know he was at the forefront of hitting back at some private media houses and ensuring they are starved of business, but I hear it was on your instruction. The time is now that we are going to see if it is true you ordered him, or it was his initiative. Actually this is where I feel you failed as part of your vow to create employment. With so many students that you so thankfully sponsored for media studies degrees at various universities, you then turned around to ensure they find no one to employ them, with the few who were employed also being forced out of newsrooms because after withdrawing your monies there, publishers could no longer afford wage bills. I hope you sit him down and make him learn from your experience, that as a leader, he should not engage in self-defeating vendettas.
He should be bigger than petty word missiles that won’t kill him. For now let me wish you well in your retirement. Tlhaba kgomo, dikoko tse 10, le pudi o re bitse re tle go go laela sentle over braai o se tautona jaanong.




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