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Who really owns Bonnington farm?

Why would the silos be erected in the middle of the city? Just as you approach Bonnigton shopping complex in front of Grand Palm Hotel, along the Segoditshane River, exists two silos and some ancient buildings of European origin. The sparking conversations surrounding the ownership of the Bonnington farms would later be resolved by Phillip Segadika, Head of the Archaeology and Monuments Division at the Botswana National Museum in a time capsule. As the dialogue continues on who owns the farms, the name Carolyn Slaughter emerges, writes DAVE BAAITSE.  

In an article he wrote in one of the local newspapers in 2014, Philip Segadika says it has been a belated but welcome upsurge coming decades after its neighboring Broadhurst Farm established its name as a Gaborone residential suburb and industrial area. When the Department of National Museum and Monuments, or more precisely, the Minister, first declared the Bonnington Silos a National Monument in 2006, it was more an artifice of faith than a fully informed intervention.

The immediate motivation for listing the site as a National Monument was more to protect it while research ensued. Hence, the initial reasons were tinkered with factual errors. Given the scarcity and associated scramble for land in Gaborone, some urgent action was needed because the presence of the farm house and silos could no longer be guaranteed by its location on the protected shores of the Segoditshane River, as the tenacious construction of a mall in the neighbourhood had demonstrated.

In his submissions Segadika says long before the National Museum proposed the legal protection of the Bonnington farm, the site had been immortalised in ink by two protectorate time characters. One was a onetime successful farmer and builder of the farm house and silos, Daniel Henry Le Cordeur, while the other is Carolyn Slaughter, who was a frequent visitor to the farm as a little girl, and whose colonial administrator parents lived at the village suburb of Gaberones.

According to Philip Segadika, on an unspecified date in 1952 when ‘Churchill was the Premier of Britain’ and the  ‘Mau Mau’ wanted to ‘oust all Europeans from Kenya’, Le Cordeur took his type- writer and composed a two page letter that he put in a time capsule and stuck under his newly constructed bath. The time capsule, turned by time and dereliction into a broken bottle whose paper content was half spoilt by the elements, was uncovered in 2008 by a team led by Victor Mokobi and Philip Segadika.

This is the letter that helped them connect with the Le Cordeur children, received several artifacts that were used in the farm in the late 1940s and 50s, and, by snowball effect, connected with Carolyn Slaughter. According to the time capsule, Dan Le Cordeur bought the Bonnington farm in 1944 from Smith and Lamb. By 1952 Bonnington Farm, exported cattle to Johannesburg, and operated four stores at Bonnington, Kgale Station, the Quarry and Gabane.

In fact, Dan Le Cordeur is the man whose quarry shop led to the infamous ‘Tsolamosese’ story and associated location where Gabane women faced a bush rapist as they walked to the quarry and Kgale stores before Dan opened the Gabane store. “If Dan Le Cordeur’s epistle tells us about the fears, interests and times of the farmer and businessman that he was, it is Carolyn Slaughter whose books succor a glimpse into the bright and darker sides of Bonnington.

And, it seems Slaughter has nothing to lose because in Before the Knife and Dreams of the Kalahari she not only lays bare the demons that troubled her own family, including sexual molestation, but she goes at length to expose the skeletons of prejudice, racism and abuse at Bonnington.

As an insider, she especially gives the reader an appreciation of the social drama that characterized lonely colonial masters and their families. While visiting Gaborone in 2014 Slaughter did several things including voluntary participation in the developments of a storyline for Bonnington farm open air museum and a talk at the University”, said Segadika.

The archeologists Segadika explained that, yes besides the farm house and the silos, it is a thrill to connect with the stories, owners and users of the site in the Le Cordeur family, Carolyn Slaughter and that magnificent story teller, 94 year old, Mack Ephraim Molatlhwa of Gabane, a trusted aid of the Le Cordeurs.

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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