Multitudes of Bayeyi tribesmen who thronged Gumare main Kgotla last Sunday to celebrate their annual Wayeyi culture festival were left in disappointment after being told that despite recent recognition by Government, they are not yet entitled to paramount chief representation in the Ntlo Ya Dikgosi.
The government through Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) in 2016 resolved to recognise the Bayeyi as an independent ethnic group. With that respect, there was optimism within the tribe—anticipating a new page that would corroborate their sovereignty with having their own Kgosi Kgolo. For a long time Bayeyi have been taken as Batawana subjects something the tribe vehemently challenged until government acceded to their demand.
Bayeyi’s main contention for recognition was based on two things; being first inhabitants in the area, and having more population. One of the Bayeyi Chieftainship Council delegate who have been negotiating with government on the matter, is Gilson Saleshando, former Member of Parliament and former leader of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP).
Saleshando told this publication in an interview that Vice President Slumber Tsogwane informed them that they are still a minority tribe and therefore there will not have a paramount chief and representation in the Ntlo Ya Dikgosi. “We as the delegation of Bayeyi met with him (Tsogwane) at Maun Lodge sometimes back and he told us that we are still moratshwana. He even said a white t-shirt is not as the same as a red t-shirt. With that, he said we can only be recognised but we will not have a Kgosi Kgolo. He says this is because we fall under Batawana territory therefore we are their subjects,” said Saleshando one of the long-time Wayeyi ‘freedom fighters’.
He continued; “We communicated this to Bayeyi over the weekend during our annual culture celebrations where Tsogwane was present. But he failed to present or corroborate what he told us in our meeting though I pleaded with him to repeat what he said in front of Bayeyi. He declined and instead attacked me for not tabling any motion about it during my tenure as an MP. He only told morafe that our chieftainship should be hereditary for smooth succession.”
While most of the tribesmen came to celebrate their culture with anticipated good news from Tsogwane as a cherry on top, they were left devastated by the revelation. “People were very hurt, the mood was sombre. They never expected that but it shows that our constitution promotes marginalisation,” Saleshando stated. The development is being viewed as inferring that government’s decision to recognise the tribe in 2016 was just a ceremonial occurrence and will not come with anything tangible the tribe hoped for.
“Under Bogosi Act we are Morafe since we are recognised but under the country’s constitution we are Moratshwana because we cannot contribute meaningfully to what is happening like the other eight tribes. This now means that recognition was just a ceremonial and rhetoric occurrence. We are not going to enjoy any basics a recognized tribe does,” he said. The main reason Bayeyi demanded to be recognised and have a paramount chief was for them to enjoy linguistic and cultural rights not enjoyed by the non-recognised tribes.
“Among these are access to the institution of Bogosi, permanent membership to Ntlo ya Dikgosi as our right, group rights to land, territorial and ethnic identity, a celebration of one’s culture in the public domain and the use of one’s language in education and the media,” another delegate Gceba Ditando has said. Saleshando believes the current problems are caused by the constitution due to the manner in which it was framed.
“This unjust law to have minor and major tribes is due to the constitution and not Batawana. Our rivalry with them dates back to time immemorial but they are not at fault. The constitution needs to be amended. This was even suggested by the judgement in 2001 when we demanded the same and judges told us that parliament can change laws not them. So for now I believe our constitution has been overtaken by events,” a very emotional Saleshando said.
Bayei tribe has three royal families from which the chief has to be chosen. Those royal families include Bogosi Jwa ga Mathwara, Bogosi Jwa ga Hankuzi and Bogosi Jwa ga Xonkue. The Bayei chieftaincy was left vacant following the demise of Chief Shikati Calvin Kamanakao in 2003. After years of struggle the Wayeyi Chieftainship Council and morafe agreed that Chief Fish Ozoo be their representative who unfortunately passed on before being crowned.
The latest name was Pitoro Jacob Seedisa who could have long been installed at least by the 4th of December in 2017 but was blocked by Batawana tribal leadership. He was appointed the leader last Sunday. All these failures to coronate a chief especially in 2017 when it was given a go ahead by the then Minister of Local Government, Tsogwane, had Batawana regent Kealetile Moremi blocking everything saying it is inconsequential for Bayeyi to have own Chief as they are under Batawana.
In 2017 a scheduled Bayeyi chief coronation failed after Batawana regent, Kealetile Moremi opposed it. It is said after the argument government decided reached a conclusion that Bayeyi not could have their own paramount chief. It is believed that government feared that giving BaYeyi full recognition would have various negative implication such as being saddled with the task of creating new boundaries as BaYeyi wanted to have its own territorial integrity.
Now their independence is pie in the sky. For now there are about 37 other tribes which exist in Botswana, which are not recognised by the state. The total non-Tswana population is generally estimated at about 60 per cent. Experts say lack of recognition has also led to the inadequate provision of social services, such as education, in rural and minority dominated areas, 36 resulting in disproportionately high levels of poverty.
In 1885, the then-Bechuanaland became a British protectorate and in 1933, the British authorities recognized eight tribes in the Chieftainship Act as follows: the Barolong, Bakwena, Bangwaketse, Balete, Bakgatla, Batlokwa, Bangwato and Batawana.
In an era where the advocacy for the rights and inclusion of marginal groups, especially individuals beset with profound and multiple impairments, grows more fervent, the Ministry of Education and Skills Development is actively devising schemes to integrate these individuals comprehensively.
Embarking on a pioneering venture, heralded by the Minister Douglas Letsholathebe, the establishment of a novel facility designated for individuals faced with disabilities is on the horizon, set to inaugurate in Maun by mid-2024.
This forthcoming entity, bestowed with the title “Maun Center for Learners with Severe and Multiple Disabilities,” is set to emerge as a sanctuary for those grappling with intense and diverse disabilities in the expanse of the Ngamiland District. Its mission extends beyond serving as a haven; it aims to elevate educational standards and secure outstanding scholastic achievements for this special cohort.
With palpable optimism, Dr. Letsholathebe heralds that this sanctuary, a collective effort of the ministry’s allies, is constructed and awaits its ceremonial launch in the June of 2024, marking a significant epoch in the winter season.
“Construction of the Maun Center for Learners with Severe and Multiple Disabilities has concluded, now in the stewardship of my Ministry. We are poised for its operational unveiling come June 2024,” Dr. Letsholathebe revealed, signaling a new chapter of assurance.
The Government of the Republic of Botswana is steadfast in elevating the status of individuals with disabilities, fostering an environment where their rights are fervently protected and upheld.
Echoing this commitment, the recent adoption of the Persons Living with Disabilities Act marks a historic stride. Its foremost objective is the establishment of the National Disability Coordinating Office alongside the National Disability Council, aligning with the mandates of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This movement is expected to significantly influence the integration of disability-centric issues.
Moreover, this legislative framework is set to fortify ongoing initiatives, increasing the economic participation of disabled individuals, thereby enhancing their living conditions and steering them towards securing a life marked by dignity and fulfillment.
In light of historical evidence, individuals bearing disabilities have consistently encountered significant obstacles in securing employment, often finding themselves at the margins of the workforce. Constraints to equitable employment opportunities compared to their non-disabled counterparts were a common plight.
A substantial portion of employers harbor reservations about integrating people with disabilities into their workplaces, fearing potential complications. Only a select few are open to the idea of employing individuals with disabilities. Consequently, these individuals face heightened unemployment rates and a lack of social support, exacerbating their vulnerability to economic hardship. The International Labour Organisation (ILO), along with the nation of Botswana, champions the cause of workplace inclusion for people with disabilities.
Statistics from Botswana’s multi-topic survey for the fourth quarter of 2021 underscore the situation. The labor force comprising individuals with disabilities saw an uptick to 11,553 from 8,649 in just a year. Among these, 4,313 were males and 7,240 were females. The unemployed tally stood at 2,195, against 9,358 who were employed. A notable majority resided in Urban Villages, with the remainder spread across rural locales and cities.
During this quarter, individuals with disabilities accounted for approximately 1.3 percent (9,358 persons) of the overall 717,418 employed populace, marking a significant increase from the previous year. The distribution of employed persons with disabilities across various areas also saw changes, with urban regions employing a majority, followed by rural areas and cities.
The report further delves into the occupational landscape for people with disabilities, noting a predominant employment in service/sales roles over elementary positions – a contrast to the broader employment data.
Despite a reduction in unemployment figures for individuals with disabilities from the preceding year, the unemployment rate stands at a worrying 19.0 percent, with disparities between genders. Urban areas house the majority of the unemployed, with rural areas and cities following suit.
Unemployment across different age groups reveals a balanced distribution, highlighting a widespread issue across the demographic spectrum. This paints a vivid picture of the ongoing challenges and gradual progress within the sphere of employment for people with disabilities.
Majority of employers are still hesitant to employ people with disabilities because they believe they may bring problems in the workplace. Only a few employers are willing to hire workers with disabilities. This as a result makes people living with disability to be affected by high unemployment and insufficient social protection which then further increases their risk of poverty. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is advocating for the inclusion of people with disability in the world of work and Botswana as a country too is advocating for their inclusion in the workplaces.
According to statistics Botswana, multi-topic survey quarter 4, 2021 labour force module report, the total labour force for people with disability was estimated at 11,553 persons, an increase of 2,904 persons over a period of twelve months (from 8,649 persons recorded in Q4 2020). From this total, 4,313 persons were males while 7,240 were females. In addition, 2,195 persons were unemployed whereas 9,358 persons were employed. Furthermore, the data showed the majority of labour force with disability were in Urban Villages (6,185), 3,708 were in rural areas and 1,661 in Cities & Towns.
The essence of community and local flair reigns supreme as St Louis Lager takes a bold step with its ambitious “Hype the Homegrown” Initiative, designed to bolster the visibility and support for local artists and home-based brands, weaving them into the fabric of mainstream success through revolutionary partnerships.
The launchpad for this endeavor has been set with a plethora of creative projects. Among them, a musical odyssey titled “The Journey,” featuring the fusion of local House and Pop virtuoso Hanceford Magapatona, widely celebrated as Han C. Enriching the project further are talents like the visionary Producer Flex the Ninja and the RnB Phenom, Priscilla K, whose track “Away” has captured hearts. This six-track EP, ripe with local genius, is up for grabs across all streaming services, inviting listeners to a world of Botswana’s finest.
But “Hype the Homegrown” transcends the bounds of musical exploration, delving into the realms of fashion and lifestyle, stitching a dynamic collaboration with Collections by B.K. Proctor. This venture, rooted in 100% local ownership by the trailblazing Rapper and Entrepreneur Bokang βBKβ Proctor alongside Digital Maverick, Fifi Wale, showcases a vibrant melding of St Louis Lager and Collections by BK Proctor insignias across a series of street-savvy sneakers and tees. These exclusive pieces have hit the shelves at the Collections by BK Proctor boutiques within the bustling hubs of Gaborone Fairgrounds Mall, Grand Palm, and Toro Junction Mall in Francistown.
Unveiled by the marketing maestro of Kgalagadi Breweries Limited, Gaamanngwe Ramokgothwane, this initiative not only shines a spotlight on KBL’s enduring commitment to the arts but also underscores the wealth of creativity brewing within Botswana, deserving of grand stages and accolades. Ramokgothwane passionately advocates for a collective embrace of this homegrown brilliance, positioning “Hype the Homegrown” as not merely a campaign but a clarion call to action for institutions far and wide to champion and elevate local talent.
Echoing this sentiment, KBL’s steward Carlos Bernitt envisions a future where these artisans not only sparkle locally but also etch their mark on the global canvas, all through the unified backing of Batswana. With “Hype the Homegrown,” a legacy of innovation, creativity, and inspiration is in the making.
The Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Seipati Olweny, acknowledged this campaign as a turning point for the creative community. She stressed the indispensable role of local talent in crafting Botswana’s cultural tapestry and stimulating economic diversification, pledging unwavering support from the ministry towards this collective journey of uplifting local flair.