The three Cities Road Trip Challenge, a Rea Vaya Travel Company tour to Manzini Swaziland, Maputo with a final stop in Johannesburg this past festive season was a marvel.
The three-Coach procession of the newest kid on the travel and tours block took off from Gaborone into South Africa through Tlokweng Border Post in a revolutionary easterly pivot deep into the heart of Southern Africa. One of the prized takeaways from the Rea Vaya’s 3 Cities Challenge is definitely the merriment of fellow holidaymakers.
Strangers effortlessly became friends and conversations flowed with ease into the night, topics changing in an instant: from the politics back at home to the “chameleonic-ways of the media”-so they said. Two things struck me early in this sojourn: One of them was waking up to the world class South African road network. Even to the eye of a lay man, South African roads come across very urbane and sophisticated. The infrastructure is testament to the country’s size of economy and status as a regional and continental powerhouse.
The roads strike a traveler as having been built to last. They do not bear the scars of reconstruction that afflict ours. Aesthetically they are very appealing, adorned with road marks that are alien to this region of ours. The second has to do with the efficacy of the South African traffic police who dotted each highway, thoroughfare and street in the especially accident prone season of festivities.
Slicing through the Mpumalanga province en route to the Matsamo Border Post proved to be the mother of all contrasts. It was a reminder of what we have and what we do not have back at home. The land is characterised by towering mountains, huge gushing rivers winding alongside the mountain ranges, flanked by green undergrowth. The land also bore creeks, ravines and valleys so deep and in a scale no one among us had ever seen before. It was the stuff that Sci-Fi’s, Western and adventure motion picture is made of.
However, this is not to suggest that the great and long drawn mountain ranges have been spared the plough blades of Afrikaner farmers. Eucalyptus trees used to make gum poles and electric pylons are planted on top of these mountains. These trees are planted in such a manner that they resemble a pseudo-artwork of sorts. They are planted in rows tilting in different directions and are different sizes. They are also planted at different times of the year so that they can be lumbered in precise sequence. The result of this is eucalyptus fields of varying sizes.
When one passes the customs area of the Jeppes Reef/Matsamo Border Post; a point of entry between South Africa and Swaziland, the immediate striking feature in the skyline is the humongous mountain ranges. Another immediate recognizable change as one enters Swaziland from South Africa is the change in quality of the road network. Swazi ones are narrow, with scant shoulders and faded markings.
Swaziland is a mountain Kingdom in its own right. From Jeppes Reef/Matsamo border to the nearest town of Pigs Peak, the road meanders up and down mountains which collide to form deep valleys, some of them with flowing waters. These roads can give a jalopy the road test of its life.
Swazi villages dot these mountains. These mountain villages seem off limits for policing as they are simply out of reach for vehicles. Manzini which is one of the two largest cities in the Kingdom is fairly a small but urban city. It is home to Ezulwini Valley, the kingdom’s number one tourism cash cow. The valley encompasses different hotels such as Lugogo Sun Hotel, Happy valley Hotel and Casino among many others.
The Valley is also home to the Execution Rock also known as Nyonyane. According to legend, Swazis who committed capital offences in the pre-independence era were taken uphill and forced to leap to their deaths off the high cliff. Swazi warriors would edge an offender with spear jabs from the back.
Swaziland tourism even admits that the valley is spread over many kilometers stating, in its website: “The valley has no convenient road signs to demarcate where it begins and ends. It is generally understood to extend from the bottom of the Malagwane Hill southeast along the MR103 as far as the Lusushwana River, where the latter crosses the road just west of Lobamba, and is bordered by the Luphohlo/Lugogo Mountains to the west and the Mdzimba Mountains to the east. Some extend this definition to encompass Lobamba, Mlilwane and indeed the entire length of the MR103 as far as Matsapha.”
In local proportions, this might cover an area roughly from Kgale View to Broadhurst or even Tlokweng. In its expanse, the valley’s attractions include hotels, restaurants, hot springs, casinos, a cinema, craft markets, art galleries, riding stables, a nature reserve, a golf course and a cultural village and a mall. Most visitors pass this way, and those who spend just one night in the kingdom will probably spend it here.
One of the most visited and revisited place in the valley is the Matenga Cultural village. Mantenga is a small protected area of 725 hectares in a secluded corner of the Ezulwini Valley; it is only two kilometres from a major road. The Mantenga Falls are said to be Swaziland's best-known falls, and the largest in terms of volume of water (95m high).
The reserve is home to the Mantenga Cultural Village, a living museum of old traditions and represents a classical Swazi lifestyle during the 1850s. It comprises 16 huts, kraals and byres for cattle and goats, reed fences and other structures. The dance troupe in Matenga includes Swazi warriors and maidens partaking in an electrifying song and dance. Mantenga Cultural Village is the only tourist facility in Swaziland with its own fully-fledged permanent troupe.
Since 2004, Mantenga Cultural Group is said to have toured several European countries for a series of festivals and private appearances in countries such as Belgium, German, and France. Forging north east proceeding to Mozambique through the Mhlumeni/Namaacha Border Post it was evident that Swaziland is almost exclusively made of mountains as they start to recede as one tears forward into the Mozambican interior.
Mozambique is a hot and humid country. To some people it can be a jolt of culture shock though. With a population of 23 million one item that took many aback was the magnitude of hawkers and their tenacity when doing business. They mill around foreigners literally forcing one to buy.
Maputo is a vibrant city with historical sights of its own. One is the Samora Machel statue in central Maputo. Our visit to the country coincided with the shooting to death of former President, Armando Guebuza’s daughter, Valentina Guebuza by her husband. The tour guide told us that Valentina was one of the richest people in the country despite being only 38 years. He further disclosed that suspicion in the country was that her father pillaged the country’s assets and fronted with her more so that she was known for her riches but not business acumen.
The ultimate attraction in Mozambique was a boat cruise to the Portuguese Island, a few nautical miles from the mainland. Beaches in the mainland boasted dirty waters and one would not enjoy their holiday experience with nagging hawkers anyway. However the Portuguese Island boasted white sandy beaches and blue waters. It was so picture perfect that even a marriage proposal was done on the island by two lovebirds.
In retrospect, even though the sojourn had its own glitches, it was some of these that made the trip even worthwhile to remember.Coming back to Botswana the melancholy of having to part with fellow holiday maker friends was palpable in the coach. I had already made friends. Monty Siamangwe, Boaz, Masego and Tapologo were some of them.
Even as I write this piece I’m still hung on the nostalgia of the Rea Vaya 3 Cities Road Trip Challenge. It is something I will definitely do again this year. It is doubtlessly a revolutionary travel package by Rea Vaya Travel Company that gives holidaymakers a multicultural and multistate experience.
After announcing the postponement in March, the 6th edition of Yarona FM Music Awards (YAMAS) have bounced back and will be held virtually via Now Channel on DSTV Channel 290 and on the Yarona FM Facebook page on September 26 at 20h00.
This is one of the first virtual music awards to be held in Botswana.The 2020 edition of the YAMAS was originally slated to be held at the University of Botswana (UB) Campus Indoor Sport Centre early this year, but plans for an indoor ceremony were thrown for a loop by the coronavirus pandemic.
“There will be no public attendance at this year’s event, it will be produced for broadcast on TV and digital platforms. The event will take place in an extended reality studio which will comprise of the hosts only. The show must go on and we still have to award artist for their splendid job” said Yarona FM Station Manager Kelly Ramputswa.
Furthermore, Ramputswa stated that nothing much has changed apart from the awards ceremony going virtual, the voting lines for nominees remain the same. The voting lines opened on Tuesday 8th September and will close on 23rd September at midnight.Yarona FM has partnered with the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development (MYSC) and First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) who contributed money to ensure that winners go home with cash prizes ranging from P10 000 and P15 000.
“We recognize the hardship that has befallen the creative industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Botswana’s creative sector remains resilient and Yarona FM, as a crucial player remains committed to contributing meaningfully to develop the sector.
The partnership to bring the YAMAS at this time, with cash winnings for musicians and other creatives involved in the show is demonstration that we are all in this together,” said the Yarona FM Station Manager.The effort of gifting artists with money is a big boost since most of them did not manage to source income from live performances due to COVID- 19 protocols that led to suspension of many events.
The 6th edition of the YAMAS will be hosted by Yarona FM presenters Loungo Andre Pitse and Kedi Molosiwa. There will be performances from artists such as ATI, Mophato Dance Theater, Girly and FME DJs.
The entertainment industry remains the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and some creatives cannot take the strain anymore.
Other sectors seem to be gradually re-opening and learning to live with the pandemic, the creative industry on the other hand is still closed with no hope for it opening any time soon. Government has seemingly turned a blind eye to the drowning industry.
Meanwhile other countries are coming up with strategic plans on how best their entertainment industries can be re-opened and how people can live with the pandemic without putting each other at risk. Promoters Association gathered to air out their concerns and lament on how much the government has side-lined them.
Government is still delaying to pay subsidies to the creatives. The Ministry of Youth currently claims to have paid a total sum of P19 404 180 to 340 youth businesses and 9090 creatives. The ministry further stated that they have 15 640 who were assessed and vetted and 12 391 were approved.
A further P 4 054 820 is yet to be paid during the ongoing payment process. However, the Botswana Entertainment Promoters Association (BEPA), are demanding that the ministry provides them proof of payment for those who were credited, instead of releasing statistics.
“We have contributed to the best of our ability even though other promoters were not paid. As for now that P7500 is not as important because people have life problems and commitments and they got tired of waiting for the money. We tried were we could as BEPA with MYSC,” said Gilbert Seagile, President of BEPA.
Some promoters however found themselves drowning during the pandemic with no life raft as life issues pile up without any source of income. “We had cases of depression. They came to our offices. We had cases were other promoters almost committed suicide due to lack of income,’’ said Seagile.
Promoters Association wishes to work on their own without relying on the government. They had however crafted a project dubbed ‘Project Tselapedi’, wherein they seek P20 million to fund annual events. The funds are to be disbursed pending on how much each project is worth. This in an effort to help the ministry and to relief problems.
“We believe the project can be financed because even today we do not know when the sector will be opened. We have solutions but we are never called when decisions are made. We are three months away from December without hosting any event. They keep postponing meetings every week. Our industry is dying and it is dying in their hands,” said Promoter Exotic. “All sectors were met, the transport sector has been fully opened yet they are not adhering to Covid-19 protocols.
Which means we can also host events whilst adhering to covid-19 protocols. The creative industry contribute highly to the GDP. We are not happy and we are going to do everything. We are being colonized by the liquor Act. These two are different. This issue puts us at a disadvantage. The liquor Act has nothing to do with us,” said Seagile.
Former President of BEPA, Zenzel Hirschfield, has sternly lashed out at the government for side-lining promoters and denying them the one thing that buttered their bread.“We are tired of going to the offices without anything coming forth. We also have the expertise to sit down and advice. The reason why they are doing what they are doing is because they are feeling the heat like us. We are not going to remain silent.
We will not listen and sit down. We will continue to speak. And we need to speak to the relevant people which is our President. We are dying of hunger. We don’t trade with alcohol we trade with the arts,” she lamented.
POLYGAMIST: South African businessman Musa Mseleku and his four wives.
No one can be blamed for thinking that women have been failed in this country. The 2020 World Population Reviews has placed Botswana as the second out of 10 countries after neighbouring South Africa with the highest rape cases in the world.
According to World Population Review, Botswana has 92.9 percent incidents per 100,000 people. The statistics are spine chilling and would prompt any country to act fast and put measures in place to reduce the numbers and keep save the most vulnerable; women and children.
In view of this ignominy, policy-makers would respond by putting in necessary legislations to address the crisis. However, it turns out such a belief is only presumptions. Even female MPs have not proved indifferent to the pleas of those who are at the receiving end, a disappointing gesture on their part.
Recently, Member of Parliament for Mahalapye East, Yandani Boko tabled a motion in parliament on urgent basis in which he requested President Mokgweetsi Masisi to set-up a Commission of Inquiry on GBV and other sexual offenses.The motion was infamously opposed by Anna Mokgethi, the minister responsible for gender affairs, disputing its urgency.
Incidentally, not long ago, Mokgethi went on record and sought help from President Masisi, seeking protection from her husband, citing that she fears for her life.Despite refusing to support the motion when it was tabled later, Mokgethi has been taking part in campaigns against GBV on social media.
If that was not enough, this week another female MP took it to another level. Beauty Manake, a Specially Elected MP is of the firm belief that polygamy can be a solution to GBV. It begs the question; how does having many wives solve GBV? If anything it may very well lead to a spike in the number of cases.
These remarks have left many women very much disenchanted on the idea, arguing that they are misrepresented and disappointed that the remarks were made by another woman.WeekendLife has taken it to the relevant people to find whether polygamy is really what we need to curb Gender Based Violence.
“Such a law disadvantages women as they are seldom involved in the decision to invite another women into their marriage. It is of course, highly discriminatory and should not be entertained. It will not work especially given the many social ills that lead to Gender Based Violence. Many domestic disputes are centered around adultery.
Legalising polygamy would lead to a conflict in homes and of laws in which an aggrieved spouse can sue for adultery, but the law in question would allow men to court other women during marriage,” Precious Gondwe, President of Pan African Game Changers and the founding Partner of Precious & Partner Law Firm.
“How will the rights of the first wife be protected? People are already killing each other as they cannot handle sharing their spouse. Couples fight about the presence of a third party in their marriage. Therefore officialising something that is not right, won’t make it morally right. It will only continue to repress women further and breakdown the family.
Once the family is broken then the very essence of society will be broken.””Legalising such a social ill would not make it morally correct. What does that mean to us as Batswana with the high rate of HIV and other social ills? This does not cure any of the social ills related to GBV. It is retrogressive in nature would be a proponent of GBV.
Surely in 2020 that is unacceptable. You cannot solve this by bringing in another predicament. As a woman and a Batswana, I am deeply concerned as to why that issue should be raised. We are adding more injury to the wound. I vehemently disagree with what the minister raised. We can’t legalize a problem!”
Polygamy in an era faced with Covid-19 and the repercussions of it is tantamount to economic suicide. Women no longer submit to men as easily, they understand the importance of independence and building legacies and protecting their wellbeing and that of their children. They understand that their lives are not centred around a man.
Social Activist Gaontebale Omphemetse Mmolai strongly believes polygamy will only regress women.“I am against polygamy because looking at the things we normally complain about, be it finances, children’s welfare, family relations and all, I believe that if we legalise polygamy in Botswana it will be a way of advocating for an increase in women’s problems.
Men will be given more power to oppress and abuse women in all different ways,” she said.“So imagine if you are stuck in that kind of a relationship or a marriage. Then both of you are being abused and the situation is worsened. So legalizing polygamy is a way of making an excuse for men. It will never be an alternative to solve GBV issues in our country. I am against the idea.”
The church however believes that in as much as there was polygamy in the Bible, God was clear that a man shall leave his family to be joined to his wife and not wives. They are of the belief that, there is no room for polygamy in the body of Christ and hence people should be inspired by the truth of God regarding marriage.
“The fact that there was polygamy in the bible does not mean that God approved of the practice. When we come under the new dispensation, we are under the New Testament. In 1Timothy 3 v 2 & 12, Titus 1 v 16, which explains that good leadership comes with a man having only one wife. In this portion of scripture, it was referred to church leaders and pastors,” Boago Ramogapi, Royal Assembly Ministries Pastor highlighted to WeekendLife.
“The reason why it was so, it was because they were the example of the Godly life. So that what we see in them becomes an example of what we are supposed to have in our personal lives. A man with one wife meant the congregation of the society must also follow an example of being joined to one wife. We are of the belief that one man one wife.”
As GBV persists, he has admitted that it has even entered church doors and that they are affected as much. Many people within church indoors are victims of rape and violence. “When it comes to GBV and polygamy being used to curb GBV I don’t think it will work. We just need behavioural change. The stance is that we need to permeate all the spheres so that men can rise to the occasion. And much more importantly I wish to see more men standing against it,” he said.
“We need to rise up to the occasion because GBV have also permeated church walls, because church members are sometimes abused sexually in the church. We need to reach out to men, we have done well with the girl child. It is now time to empower the boy child.”