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HRDC Creates Hype for Golden Jubilee

It was pomp and fanfare for staff of the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) on Thursday as choral and traditional dance fused in a celebratory mood to push forward the theme of ‘A United and Proud Nation’ ahead of the 50th anniversary commemorations.

To mark the first day of the independence month, HRDC kicked off the countdown in style by recounting highlights of past celebrations to trigger enthusiasm for the golden jubilee commemorations. For the younger generation that might not treat the celebrations with strong national sentiments – they got insight into the meaning of independence.

The event was punctuated with the use of Setswana in the place of English as an official language to deliver speeches, while song and dance were rooted in the idiomatic diction of the mother-tongue to showcase the idiosyncrasies of a united Botswana.

The younger generation benefitted from translation of important messages embedded in the lyrics, or uncommon expressions employed by their seniors. Dipapisa-puo (figurative speech) was favoured over common speech to display the pride of mastering Setswana as a national language.

Masego Mokubung – director for Statistics, Research and Innovation reminisced her teenage days during the tenth-anniversary celebrations that were characterised with song and dance.

“In Setswana – the poetic licence enjoyed by composers is something to marvel. If the singer or poet had an important message to convey to the leader – be it the traditional chief or politician, the admonishment was best encapsulated in the song or poem. Leboko ga le na bosekelo (there is no offence in artistic composition). Nowadays, our praise-poets and singers are restrained by laws that govern freedom of speech and expression. Radio stations no longer play lyrics deemed to be obscene, whereas the artist would have done nothing but to employ the rich language to convey an important message to the larger society. During independence celebrations back then, these were things to look forward to. I did my part as a teenager – if they wanted a watered-down ‘Sebodu-ke-nnenekwane’, the national stadium had me as the centre of attention for the rendition of Speech Madimabe’s folk-song,” She fondly remembered.

Ralph Maganu, acting Chief Operations Officer said the twentieth-anniversary was a poignant milestone that he has cherished the rest of his life.

“I haven’t celebrated and enjoyed independence greater than this time. The torch of unity truly stitched this nation together. I guess it was the creative manner in which it was thought out – you had the young and elderly alike running with the torch along our highways, short and long distances just to participate and pass it on to the next person to show that we are united. I hope the golden jubilee can achieve some excitement as the 1986 celebrations,” he recalled with nostalgia.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Raphael Dingalo – recollected the rare moment of seeing world leaders at close range as school children lined up the streets in a march to the national stadium for a beehive of activities.

“I saw Dr Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, and many others. Vividly, I remember the football match between Botswana and China for the tenth-anniversary celebrations. Unfortunately, we lost two-zero to the giant nation, but consolation was convenient as they looked the same and we justified our loss on the assumption that they [likely] kept substituting players without us noticing each time there was a throw-in, thus running down our boys to clinch a victory,” Dingalo said, amid cheers.

Dingalo reminded the gathering of the relevance of the theme for the 50th commemorations – a ‘United and Proud Nation’ as signifying the diversity in the many languages and cultures across the country, yet bonded into oneness as Botswana.

“The colourful tapestry of our nation is what we are celebrating. It does not mean that we will always agree on everything, but in our disagreements, we must recognize that what unites us is far greater than what can divide us as a nation called Botswana. Let us join together in commemorating this year’s independence with the understanding – celebration of diversity in unity,” he underscored the theme.

The BOT50 Representative, Kagiso Seloma who was the guest of honour reminded the gathering that it was significant for each citizen to uphold national symbols that define us as Batswana. Seloma was mesmerized by the national colours upon entry – a gesture that suggested HRDC had pitched the bar high for creating hype around the celebrations.

“It felt like walking into a Government Ministry and the ambiance was just perfect. I applaud you for the efforts. However, I need to also implore you that in prepping up for the golden jubilee, we must watch out for the correct symbols that define and represent Botswana. The royal blue of the flag is not the national colour – ours is sky-blue. Similarly, I noticed people were walking up and down as the national anthem was sung. We must be in absolute attentive mode. It is sacred. Our national symbols are the coat of arms, national anthem, and the flag – we must give them respect and honour,” he emphasized.

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.

 

 

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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.

 

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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.

 

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