The perils of newshounds
Heelang, the Press has a duty to inform the nation. Our dear brothers and sisters perched on lofty places in the ministries who have assumed self-appointed responsibilities as our taskmasters must be reminded that THEY will all leave one day BUT the office will remain! Try hard as you may to make the lives of Pressmen and women a living hell, you do so at your own peril. Mark my words.
Pressmen and women, whether working for the state or private media, essentially serve the same purpose – to inform the nation; educate and entertain it. They record history as it unfolds. Without doubt the occasion of the country’s Golden Jubilee presented an opportunity for the local Press to shine, but owing to the tumultuous relations that have characterised the present administration and the private Press especially, the latter was treated like aliens in their motherland!
Hearing of how they were treated, I was actually reminded of a time when our Press Cards bore the bold and distinct label from the Department of Information and Broadcasting – ‘Private and Alien’ - yes, we were both private and alien here in our fatherland. Somehow this vice has reared its ugly head once more under a new guise. I hear that our Private Press corps were not invited to the State banquet for the 50th Independence Anniversary. They were neither supplied with the itinerary of the SADC Chairman whilst here.
Worse still none of the protocol officers at the responsible ministry had the courtesy to offer any of our private Press members a lift aboard the OK1 to cover King Mswati’s visit to Kasane. Yet listening to Mogomotsi Kaboeamodimo at the stadium as he paid glowing tribute to both the state and private media, I wondered whether he really understands the hell that our brothers and sisters in the private press are subjected to by the bureaucracy which he serves.
As for me, I was impressed by the demonstration of unity and peace that Batswana displayed during this Anniversary. And I do pray that the peace (of the Lord) sustain us for eternity, that we can learn to magnify those things that unite us than the differences that divide us. But even then, don’t let us pretend that the Press has to sugar-coat reality to fit certain stereotypes. It would be remiss of the institution and its practitioners to stoop so low and debase their calling.
Finally, my honest opinion is that our Independence is the story of how Batswana struggled to emancipate themselves from colonial rule and not necessarily a story about Sir Seretse Khama although he is a leading figure in the story, but it’s not all about him and his family. It is a story about Batswana, let’s be careful to tell the story about Batswana and not about an individual.
Even then I suppose we all enjoyed the cushion, umbrella and plentiful water at the national stadium a stone’s throw away from the dry Gaborone Dam.
Hopefully President Ian Khama’s entreaties to God for rain will be answered and the dam will fill up!