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Khama’s Serowe ghost house now a heritage site

The house in which Botswana’s first democratically elected President, Sir Seretse Khama was born and raised has been listed under the one hundred (100) national monuments.

The house which is an inherited property of Khama’s royal family is situated in the capital village of Bangwato, Serowe where he was born in July 1st 1921. The house had been abandoned, and was in dilapidating state for years but has been remarkably revamped for tourism purposes.

Built by Khama the Great (Khama III), it belonged to his son Sekgoma II who was Paramount Chief of the BammaNgwato, having been given to him as a present after his wedding and reconciliation with his father.  When Sekgoma II, father to Seretse became Chief he insisted that as a result of their reconciliation, his father had altered his will verbally and allotted the bulk of his house and cattle to him.

The modern European style house was last year refurbished at a budget amounting to hundred thousand pula and will soon be used as a heritage site. Botswana has over 2,500 such sites, of which more than 100 have been gazetted. The National Monuments and Relics Act of 2001 ensures that the sites are adequately protected. The National Museum found it befitting to revamp it and it was launched on the 23rd December 2015.

According to a research carried out by the National Museum, the last person to have stayed at the house from the royal family was Tebogo Sekgoma, the wife to Sekgoma II.

This was before it was handed over to the council. Vasco Baitsiseng who is the Principal Curator at the National Museum says they will soon open an exhibition at the newly refurbished house showcasing the life of Sekgoma, his leadership style and the succession and the birth of controversial and vocal Tshekedi Khama.   

From his Biography titled Black Prince, Tshekedi Khama has documented well the relationship between him and Sekgoma and the call to the regency, his clashes on many occasions with both the Bangwato royal family and the British Administration, whose representatives he took to task right up to the level of Whitehall and Westminster.

Contrary to Sekgoma II’ s rule the significance of the house is in housing the first President Seretse Khama and father to the current President Ian Khama. However it will zoom significantly to the life of his uncle Tshekedi Khama who rose to fame while he was formally installed at the age of twenty as the Regent of the Bangwato.

This will form part of the history that will be exhibited in the house. In an interview with one of the papers Naledi Khama, the only sister to the founding president Seretse Khama also hailed her uncle Tshekedi for having raised them.

“Being young I cannot remember that much.  What I know is that our uncle (Tshekedi Khama) looked after us like one of his own.  He gave us unconditional love and sent us to schools both locally and abroad. I don’t know whether he was using his resources or the ones left by our parents,” she said.

Who is Tshekedi Khama?

The birth of Tshekedi Khama on 17 September 1905 when his father was in his late sixties added a new dimension to the intense rivalries that had torn the royal family apart over the past decade. Although Khama had married three times, only his first wife, his much loved Mma Bessie, had born him a son, whom he named Sekgoma after his own father.

But when Sekgoma attained his majority he proved as strong willed as his father and the two began to clash over issues affecting the administration of the state. In 1898 Sekgoma accused his father of grooming his son-in-law, Ratshosa Motsetle, the husband of his eldest daughter Bessie, to succeed him. Khama denied that he was contemplating such a flagrant violation of the Ngwato laws of succession which held that as his only son Sekgoma was his lawful heir.

But Sekgoma continued to see Ratshosa as a rival, especially as it seemed that his imperious sister, Bessie, was determined to exploit his estrangement from their father to seek the succession for herself and her children. Khama entertained such a possibility and even threatened Sekgoma with it, though there was no precedent either for the succession of a woman to the office of kgosi or of succession through the female line.

On that occasion Khama had declared “And to you Sekgoma I swear that you will never get the chieftaincy…I must warn you that I can deny you the chieftaincy and pass it to the Ratshosas if I like.” Sekgoma's apprehensions cannot have been diminished when Ratshosa replaced him as his father's Secretary. Eventually relations between father and son became so strained that Sekgoma went into exile taking a number of followers and their cattle with him. He set himself up as an independent ruler and was recognised as such by the British administration.

In 1916, Khama nearly died after falling from his horse and breaking his leg. When Sekgoma heard that his father was gravely ill, he came to visit him on his sickbed and the two effected a reconciliation that survived Khama's recovery, though Sekgoma continued to live in his place of exile.

While Khama did not formally announce to the British administration that he and his son had become reconciled, the Resident Magistrate at Serowe reported to the Resident Commissioner that the two had resumed friendly relations. Nor did Khama alter his will in his elder son's favour.

Tshekedi had been formally installed as Regent less than three months before the attempted assassination. And so began a turbulent career during which Tshekedi was to take on royal rivals and British overlords including the most senior of these, the Dominions Secretary himself.

In 1951, his protests against the exile into which he had been sent by the British Administration nearly brought down the Labour Government of the day. And when he died in a London hospital on 10 June 1959, one distinguished campaigner for colonial freedom remembered him as the 'most outstanding' of the many African leaders he had met.

Source: Black Prince: A Biography of Tshekedi Khama 1905-1959

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WeekendLife

Death or Divorce – a tough choice for many

24th May 2022
pic

Rebecca* is a woman in her late thirties. She holds her head high and walks with a sway in her steps. There is an air of confidence when she speaks. So when she tells me how her husband has been abusing her throughout their 17 years of marriage, I am taken aback.

“Everyday is a new experience for me. I don’t know what version of husband I’ll meet; the one who will scold me for forgetting to lay out his clothes or the one who will hit me for putting too much salt in the soup,” she says while wiping tears. 17 years is almost two decades. I ask her why she has had to endure all that pain for a long time but she only shakes her head and does not answer.

Like Rebecca, hundreds of women experiencing domestic violence find it difficult to leave. For some, it is for reasons best known to them, for others, they simply do not know why or have the words. People who have not experienced abuse find it unfathomable that survivors stay in their relationships and not leave. It seems almost like they enjoy it. But until an experience has been felt, it is easy to give directives on how to act.

For Ms. Ilavbare Goldfish Rahmatulai, it took 6 years to escape the suffocating grip of her abuser. “It was a traumatic experience,” she tells me. “I can tell you this for free; the same intensity used to abuse you is the same intensity used to beg. When he does this, pity begins to set in and you become confused on what to do.”

Ms. Ilavbare Goldfish Rahmatulai

I ask Ms. Demilade Lawal, a psychologist from the University of Chester, in an interview, if there is a psychological reason behind this and she affirms.

“For a lot of women, it’s a glimmer of hope that things are going to get better. And that glimmer of hope can be understood when we are aware of the social cycle of abuse. There is a tension phase, an abuse phase and a honeymoon phase. In the honeymoon phase the abuser temporarily changes his ways and alters the victim’s decision to leave. Then the tension starts and then abuse follows.”

Another reason women remain entangled with their abusers is the fear of the unknown, the unclear reality of what would be after leaving.

“The truth is, as much as this person abuses them, there is an emotional connection. They love this person, there is a traumatic attachment whether they are aware of it or not. It is not the best love environment but it doesn’t change the fact that this is how they feel about the person that abuses them. So the thought of starting afresh without this person whom they have grown to love despite the abuse is just as frightening,” Ms Lawal says.

Although this may sound like an unjustifiable reason to some who have not walked this path, Ms. Rahmatulai agrees.

“In my case, I loved him very much. I could not imagine going to tell my family members or friends that the man I loved started hitting me as early as a month into our marriage. I was embarrassed. So I stayed back, hoping it would get better,” she says.

Research shows that one of the many reasons why women remain in abusive marriages is a lack of income which results in total financial dependency on the abuser. Could this be a strategy to trap the victim in an abusive cycle?

“While I was married, my husband would give me very little housekeeping money. He knew I did not have a job and the money would be insufficient but I could not say a word. I had to feed my children. If I complained I would get beaten. He provided for everything in the house, what authority did I have to question him,” Ms Rahmatulai says to me.

I ask Rebecca if she has a job and she says no. She mentions she’s an interior decorator but she barely gets offers. When she does, her husband collects everything.

A major factor for avoiding abusive marriages is to identify red flags. However, these flags are sometimes mistaken for natural behavioural traits. In Ms Rahmatulai’s case, she tells me she noticed her husband was quick tempered and ill mannered before marriage however she waved them aside as he had never hit her during courtship.

How then can abuse survivors find the courage to leave?

“The decision to leave is a process, it takes a shift in perspective – realising that you deserve better and that your kids deserve to grow in a healthy home where they don’t learn to be abusers or think it’s okay to be abused,” Ms Lawal says.

“When I pack my bags to leave, my husband would hit me. When I unpack, he would hit me. I started going to school to get a degree and then later I started trading. When I had what seemed like enough then (N80,000/ $192), I left my husband regardless of the worst that could happen. I realised if I stayed long enough, I would be dead,” Ms Rahmatulai says.

“It’s been 20 years since I left. I’m 51 and a lawyer now. I have dedicated my life to helping women in abusive marriages leave. So many men have called me a home breaker but I say it’s better to break a home and save a life.”

*Rebecca has asked to stay anonymous by using a pseudonym.

Claire Mom is a Nigerian journalist and an advocate for human rights.
Email: clairemom26@gmail.com
Twitter: speakclairely

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WeekendLife

7 Days to go before As One Music Concert

24th May 2022
ATI

Multitudes of music lovers are expected to throng Francistown’s Obert Itani Chilume Stadium for the highly anticipated As One Music concert next weekend.

Updating WeekendLife on the preparations of the event, Kesego Okie said the preparations for the show are going well and they are working around the clock to make sure that they fulfill all logistics that need to be concluded. She said, ATI has been working hard alongside the featured artists to give Batswana the best experience at concert.

She said that the concert has been accepted well by Batswana and they are very happy with the ticket sales. ”But of course we are looking forward to more ticket sales as more people are showing more interest in being part of this historic event and we are grateful to all our partners and sponsors.”

She appealed to the Francistown Business Community to come on board and support the initiative as it’s a concert for the people. Okie said Francistown was chosen for a reason as they believe it is a gate way to a number of other strategic places in Botswana like Maun, Orapa, Phikwe and Kasane.

“We also felt that since the city has been greatly affected by COVID-19 an event of this magnitude was befitting to be held in Francistown so that we can also play our role in uplifting the socio-economic livelihood hence we believe it is vital for the business community of Francistown to embrace us so that collectively we can contribute meaningfully together as one to the community of Francistown”.

She indicated that they have a large number of artists particularly from Francistown that have shown interest during the show activation and other artists that have collaborated with ATI in the past and those that have contributed in the growth of his music, and it would be very difficult for them to fulfil the mandate of the show without support particularly from the corporate community in Francistown.

Tickets for the event are sold at P50 kids, P150 general, 500 VIP silver circle and VVIP for P1500. All tickets are sold at all Liquarama Outlets across the country.

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WeekendLife

Phakalane soars to new heights

24th May 2022
Magang

Founded 30 years ago by David Magang, Phakalane Estates came from humble beginnings to gradually expand into developing one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the country which attract high income dwellers.

When the development began in the early 90s the estate was to be developed into 13 phases. It is then that a decision was taken by the developers to come up with plans that would be appealing to certain groups of the society.

Phakalane Estates continues to make its mark in the property development space, this year, they have managed to invests over P45 million on major renovations to the Golf Estate properties namely the hotel, golf course, and conference center.

Already the company has erected 84 single and double bedroom apartments which commenced early this year. The construction of these new apartments has been set for Peto Estates, a gated community within the Phakalane neighborhood strategically placed a stone’s throw away from multiple shopping centres such as Mowana Park and Acacia Mall.

“We want the best for our clients that is why even in Peto, we have various apartments for every one and also bearing in mind that the people should be not far from the complex,” Phakalane Estates’ Lesang Magang said in an interview.

So far the roads tarring has started at Sebote estate which is part of the estate expansion, it is expected that even things electrically will get handed to the Botswana Power Corporation which will be the last stage plus the lights on the streets. “In terms of infrastructure we don’t compromise we ensure that it is world class so that we don’t disappoint our clients. Those that brought houses earlier when they sell them it comes at a profit.”

Following the success of the launch of Peto Estates back in 2014, when over 300 plots ranging in cost from roughly P300, 000 to P1.4m were immediately sold out with a high surplus of demand, Phakalane Estates boasts strong confidence in the market demand for new apartments in the area.

The apartments are set to follow the trend of the estates with state of the art modern designs and facilities that will unequivocally catch the eye of professionals in the market for a smaller yet upscale rental property in Gaborone. Phakalane Estates CEO Subramaniam Parthiban has expressed plans for the creation of an all-new industrial park in Phakalane aiming to expand and consolidate the existing industrial strength the community already boasts.

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