Kagiso Thutlwe this week whitewashed Rhoda Sekgororoane to retain his mayoral position – a move that surprised many; particularly due to his alleged sell out tendencies and the infamous sell out smile. His rendezvous in President Ian Khama’s OK1 jet; dining and wining the city’s elite, the close relations to the ruling party, the condemnation and all – the Gaborone City Mayor will not let go of his signature smile to please anyone, writes DAVE BAAITSE.
Perhaps everyone believed that he had reached the end of the road and would not see the light of day come election this past week. More often than not, Thutlwe has found himself in hot soup as his comrades accused him of living a life that did not reflect the struggle. While he said being elected for yet another term as the city’s Mayor will afford him the opportunity to continue his efforts of transforming Gaborone into a Diamond City, Thutlwe is adamant he will not change his character.
He is of the view that his critics do not understand leadership. The young mayor describes himself as a happy man living a free life. “People always accuse me of my signature smile, I was born like that and I cannot pretend, that is me,” he said. He challenged WeekendLife to his Facebook timeline to see all pictures of him where he wore the same signature smile in many of his timeline photos. He further stressed that he sees no problem with partying the nights away, as a young man enjoying his bachelorhood.
According to him, he has employed a rather poles apart strategy to engage with the Government of the day to get the job done. “If you differ with people, it does not mean you have to fight them. I am a diehard member of the Botswana National Front (BNF) but I will engage with everyone starting with the President to Cabinet Ministers and everyone else,” he said. He does not shy away from commenting on his partying ways and his love for the devil’s waters. Those are some of the perks that come with being the city’s head boy, he insists.
Recently, a picture of him with former US president George Bush broke the internet-but for all the wrong reasons; it was a meme! His smile had brought him more condemnation, with the picture being captioned ‘The smile of blacks around whites that saw Africans being colonised’. In the photograph, Thutlwe was laughing his lungs out, with his mouth stretched to maximum elasticity. Commenting on the moment that made him victim to the viral meme world, Thutlwe said that he and former president Bush were only sharing a light moment and Bush had commented that at his age (Thutlwe) he would have not made Mayor in the US.
Who is Kagiso Thutlwe?
His Worship Kagiso Calvin Thutlwe, 33 is the current Mayor of Gaborone City serving his second term. Born in Mochudi he started his primary school in Shoshong where he met Nehemiah Modubule and was recruited into the United Socialist Party at a tender age. At the time, he said, they were fascinated by singing struggle songs and recruiting more members into the movement and were being led by a veteran politician, an ally of Modubule, George Alfred.
His rise in student politics started as early as his days at Naledi Senior in Gaborone where he made his way into the Council of Students. The journey continued at the University of Botswana (UB) where he was introduced to the political ground and was mentored by some BNF stalwarts of the University at the time, amongst others Nelson Ramaotwana. He said lecturers such as Elmon Tafa and Dr Sebina also helped mentor and refine his ideology as a communist. He also learnt a lot from Bushi Manamola, a former South African Communist who was also a very close ally of the movement.
Upon his graduation, the former UB Student Representative Council (SRC) President became a BNF activist and won the 2014 General Elections as the Village Ward Councillor in Gaborone and was also elected City Mayor unopposed. He made history becoming one of the youngest Mayors in Africa.
His role as a Mayor
His biggest role as a Mayor is to supervise the council and to make sure they take services to the people. He said he is mandated to make sure that there are no potholes in the city, roads are well maintained and lights are working perfectly. He pointed that currently one of their challenges is that of lack of offices. He said they have been fighting the issue for a very long time now and during his second term in office he wishes to see that come to pass.
Thutlwe said at the top of his wish list, is seeing their plot at the Central Business District (CBD) being developed. He is also working on the long proposed motion by his predecessor Haskins Nkaigwa to develop the Bus Rank Terminal. He said the terminal can be privatised and benefit a lot of young entrepreneurs.
He said they have also been funded to develop the Bonnington Farm. In Mogoditshane, immediately opposite Grand Palm hotel entrance and the Bonnington shopping mall stands two sets of silo quadrants and a ruined farm house. According to research these were built by Dan Le Cordeur Sr. and his wife Rene a few years after purchasing the farm in 1944. Dan Le Cordeur Sr. was formerly from Capetown but his father was of French Huguenot descent.
Le Cordeur Sr. was a farmer, cattle baron and businessman who at one time owned the entire land from Broadhurst to the foot of Kgale Hill, at least 3 shops in Kgale, Gabane and what is now the Bonnington shopping mall. The site was listed as a National Monument in 2006 and the silos recently restored through the Adopt a Monument Strategy of the National Museum in a collaboration started with Plascon Freeworld, PG Timbers and BMB. The Mayor says he also has plans to create a foundation that will assist struggling students in continuing their education, as well as continue with motivational speaking in schools.
This book is a true-life story of an African King based in South Africa. The Last Frontier is a resistance stand by Bakgatla Ba Kgafela tribe and its line of Kings from 1885 against a dark force called ‘western democracy’ that is insidiously destroying lives, peoples, nations and threatens to wipe away whole civilizations in Africa.
The story flows through four important episodes of history, beginning in about 1885 when Bechuanaland Protectorate was formed. This section briefly reveals interactions between Kgosi Linchwe 1 and the British Colonial Government, leading to the establishment of Bakgatla Reserve by Proclamations of 1899 – 1904.
The second episode deals with Kgosi Molefi’s interaction with the British Colonial Government in the period of 1929-36. The third episode records Kgosi Linchwe II’s interactions with the British Colonial Government and black elites of Bechuanaland. It covers the period of 1964-66, leading to Botswana’s independence. Kgosi Linchwe ii resisted the unlawful expropriation of his country (Bakgatla Reserve) by Sir Seretse Kgama’s government of 1966 to no avail. He wrote letters of objection (December 1965) to Her Majesty the Queen of England, which are reproduced in this book.
The fourth episode covers the period between Kgafela Kgafela II’s crowning as King of Bakgatla in 2008 to 2021. It is a drama of the author’s resistance to the present-day Botswana Government, a continuation of Bakgatla Kings’ objection against losing Bakgatla country to the Kgama dynasty assisted by the British Government since 1885. The story is told with reference to authentic letters, documents, and Court records generated during the period of 1885-2019. There is plenty of education in history, law, and politics contained in The Last Frontier for everyone to learn something and enjoy.
Hailed for being the prime gospel concert after the Covid-19 pandemic had put events to a halt, Golden Relic, in conjunction with Sweet Brands, recently unveiled the Arise and Worship Concert, Botswana. The show marks the return of worshippers and fans to enjoy music and worship together after what seemed like “cooler box” events were taking over the entertainment scene.
The concert to be held on December 11th 2021, at the Molapo Showcase, has a packed lineup with the Headlining acts being Bishop Benjamin Dube, Lebo Sekgobela from South Africa and Botswana’s very own Obakeng Sengwaketse. More international acts from Nigeria and Ghana are also expected to grace the event. The show organizers have invested an effort in diversifying the lineup with live performances.
The promoter of the Arise and Worship Concert, David “DVD” Abram revealed in an overview of the event that; “We have lost a lot of loved ones this year, and when that happens, one’s spirit goes down, and we need a light to ground us once more, to heal our souls. Therefore, the two main purposes of this event are to do the work of God and, secondly, to make sure that we nurture and develop talent in Botswana. With challenges that come up with events of such magnitude, the team and I have been committed to seeking guidance from God through having night prayers.”
Abram added that as promoters, they usually have a bias towards already established artists, thus neglecting the upcoming ones and wanting to change that. “We approached the Melody Gospel TV Show since we aim at nurturing new talent and agreed on having one of the winners as a headliner for the event to allow them to share the stage with gospel giants so that they are exposed to the industry. This resulted in securing the Second Winner of the Melody Gospel TV show; Thabiso Mafoko as a local headlining act.”
The concert also aims at celebrating a Motswana. Multi-Award Winner; with the most recent title; BOMU Best Traditional Gospel under his belt, also best known for his soulful voice and heartfelt lyrics, Obakeng Sengwaketse enthusiastically said, “I want to thank the organizers of the Arise and Worship concert, it means a lot to me after recently winning two awards that are currently the highlight of my career.
I regard this as a great revival because the Covid-19 pandemic has muffled events such as this. I am looking forward to sharing the stage with the great Bishop Benjamin Dube, Lebo Sekgobela and more artists from Nigeria and Ghana. Sengwaketsi urged Batswana to come and witness the greatness of the Lord as their lives will never be the same.”
Tickets are selling like fat cakes with VVIP tickets having only five tickets remaining; the VVIP tickets include rounder access backstage to all the performing artists. The event will also comprise a seated Gold Circle Ticket, which accounts for 50% of revellers to allow for easier enforcement of COVID-19 protocols and avoid a potential stampede.
In a bid to entice merrymakers to buy tickets, the promoters have come up with a layby strategy and buying tickets on an instalment basis for the attendees to be able to buy their tickets since the COVID-19 Pandemic has left many Batswana in financial ruin but having the interest to attend the event.
One can only imagine what is like being in the public eye. It is not a walk in the park; and not as easy as people might think it is because of the pressure from the public. Celebrities or influencers are perceived to be perfect, perfect bodies, perfect families, perfect parents, financially stable, healthy, and always smiling and patient with everyone – Is this for real?
However, when people’s expectations of celebrities are not met, the same celebrities are often victimized, body shamed, or blamed, fairly or unfairly. As a result of them not having a personal life, they are often scrutinized in all aspects of their lives; their lives are aired for the public to see and judge. Celebrities are often extra careful about everything that they do, they have to go an extra mile as compared to how ordinary people live their lives.
To understanding this experiences by public figures, this reporter made a case study of Mr Lizibo Gran Mabutho, the firstborn in his family with only one sibling, his younger brother. Lizibo describes himself as a simple Kalanga guy who was chosen by music and did not choose music.
He said being raised by his mother and grandmother, he grew up surrounded by music from birth. Lizibo said his grandmother was a religious person who held church services at their house in Zwenshambe, “for me singing was from Monday to Sunday. I was not like any ordinary child who only sang at church on Sundays or sometimes in school assembly, for me it was a daily thing. My mother was also a talented dancer in our village that is what I mean when I say I did not choose music, but music chose me.”
Lizibo said though he grew up surrounded by music, it was hard for his parents to accept the path he has chosen to be a musician. Lizibo said he had to prove to his parents that music was his passion and that it could pay the bills like any other profession. He said eventually they saw his passion for music and supported him.
Lizibo said being exposed to music from a tender age made him venture into the music career from a tender age. He said he was part of the Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete (KTM) choir, Lizibo said being in the public eye for the longest time has taught him that he is living for the people and that he does not have a life. He said the very society that is watching him has so much expectation for him and that means he has to conduct himself in a good manner because people are looking up to him.
Lizibo said he understands the saying that great power comes with great responsibility, “when people see me, they see a role model. I realize and understand that people are and have been modelling me even when I was not aware of it, I know of six mothers who have named their sons after me because they felt that I inspire them somehow.”
He said he has accepted his fate that he will never have a normal life because people are looking unto him. He said he is grateful to be in the public on a positive note by bringing hope to the people because he has always wanted to be part of people’s solutions and not their problems.
He said, “people should understand that our careers are our calling. One needs to be spiritually connected to their calling as an artist. The most rewarding part about being in the public for me is not about payment but about being the solution to someone’s problem.”
Lizibo said the greatest challenge that he has ever faced about being in the public eye has been the issue of trust, not able to know which friends are genuine and which ones are not. He said as a way of avoiding fake friends he has always kept his four close friends who have been there for him through thick and thin. Lizibo said being close to his family has also helped him as they have been his strength when things were not going well for him, “most of the time people say we change when we taste fame. That is not necessarily true because people are the ones who changed when we became famous. People always want something from us, nothing is ever genuine with people and that is why I chose to keep my circle very small.”
Lizibo said as much as he travels a lot because of the nature of his work because it is naturally demanding, he said he always ensures that he creates time for his family. He said that at home he is Lizibo who is sent to do errands, he is Lizibo the son, not a celebrity.
He said there is a lot of pressure that comes with being in the spotlight, “the public puts so much pressure on us mostly about the material lifestyle they portray us to have. We are often compared with South African celebrities, but people fail to understand that we are two different countries. Most people fell into the trap and are living above their means resulting in them living in debt. I often tell youngsters not to fall into that trap of being tempted to live life above their means.”
The advice Lizibo gave to upcoming celebrities was that they should know that being in the public is not about them, but it is about the people. He said, “one of my mentors once asked me if I make music about myself or the people. He said I need to make music for the people because it is my responsibility to feed them with what they need, he said they might not even be able to know that they have a need but that I need to identify that need and meet it. Our responsibility is to serve people what they need, our music is to feed people’s hunger. My music is about love, I feed people love.”
Lizibo said it is important for celebrities to seek counselling and take care of their mental health, he said he has been investing in his mental health for years because he understands the importance of mental health especially when one is in the public.