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A Journey in Vegetarianism

‘You’re what you eat’ – unknown origin

Growing up in Gaborone of the 1970s and 80s, in what some might have called a regular, lower-middle-class, single-income family, food for us at home nearly always consisted of nothing else but traditional Tswana/Setswana cuisine –mabele [sorghum], bogobe jwa lerotse, morogo [traditional greens], dinawa [black eyed beans], ditloo [Jugo beans], mmidi [maize], and, of course, this being Botswana, meat, meat, meat – though even this latter commodity would over the years become increasingly unaffordable for many urban households, without the option of slaughtering their own stock!


Only occasionally, on a Sunday, after church or Sunday school, as the case might be, or, for that matter, on Christmas Day, as those of our generation might care to recall, would one ever get to taste the much desired chicken and rice combo.


So you can imagine my shock when, in 1992, on an excursion to the East African nation of Tanzania, I was told that of all things, rice, which we here in Botswana have long considered to be something of a;’[ special treat, and definitely something to write home about, was for them, along with ugali, just another staple – eaten almost every other day (sometimes with milk!) by both the urban elite and the common people in the countryside.


Then in 1986, when, like a soldier headed for battle, I went out on my national tour of duty in Tirelo Sechaba, I experienced what I might regard as my first major dietary disruption – since TS was, if nothing else, all about tin-stuff – those cartons of Luck Star fish, corned beef, baked beans, and the like, that one hoarded in their kitchen.


So with neither mum nor sisters, at home, to prepare any of those nice and sumptuous family meals, for many us, TS participants, the scheme also coincided with a major decline in our eating habits, essentially reducing many to a life of only tin, rust and zinc.


Then a year later, in August 1987, while I was registering as a fresherman at the UB, my stomach hit rock bottom again, with the advent of institutional and communal eating arrangements, with then UB head cook, Mme Mma Dichaba, spoiling us to her treats of boiled chicken and rice and the like – which one would suppose were not too different from what they ate in government hospitals and the prisons services, for instance – and which we, freshermen, relished so much and gnoshed with gusto and glee, as befits highly active and blooming youth.


However, I would not be for too long an ecstatic and enthusiastic guest at Mma D’s table, for mid-way into my academic programme at the UB, I would soon be railroaded to stop eating meat and subscribe to a strict and sparse form of vegetarianism – no beef, no chicken, no eggs, and the like – by my rasta minders on campus.


And even though I would once in a while find myself shuffling indecisively at the head of the food queue, not sure whether to dig into Mma D’s piles of boiled chicken in front of me, or just simply settle for the standard soya, which the kitchen staff had taken to preparing as a stop-gap measure ‘for the rastas’, I would over time take my vegetarianism to even newer heights by finally throwing the eggs and fish out of the kitchen window – essentially rendering me an ultra veg, or vegan, in the process.


And still talking about fish, I had been told by none other than Ras Bupe, a dreadlocked Jamaican émigré and one my rasta friends and interlocutors in Dar, that it was ‘actually a very dirty animal’ that absorbed all manner of impurities under water – despite it being eaten in virtually all parts of Tanzania since the country is not only coastal but is also home to many inland water sources, rivers and lakes.


Then, years afterwards, while living temporarily outside Botswana as a foreign student, I would find being a vegetarian one of the simplest things one could ever do – even though my housemates, who from other African countries, would swear to God that they could not, in all honesty, reconcile being vegetarian and being African, at the same time!


Around the same time, too, almost everyone at home was on my case, turning up the pressure on me, my dad even asking my ‘better enlightened’ brother-in-law to help to make me understand that ‘man could not live without meat’ and that you needed beef in order to develop strong bones and a sound mind!

In this, they were apparently not alone.

For in his book The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State (first published in 1884), Marx’s old friend and confidante, Friedrich Engels, had stated quite bluntly that "The superior development of Aryans and Semites is, perhaps, attributable to the copious meat and milk diet of both races, more especially to the favorable influence of such food on the growth of children. As a matter of fact, the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico who live on an almost purely vegetarian diet have a smaller brain than the Indians in the lower stage of barbarism who eat more meat and fish.” (Italics mine).


But finding it increasingly difficult to tie together a solid and steady vegetarian regimen in a new and shared setting, and with my shoulder length ‘dreadlocks’ to also tag along (and feed), I was massively famished and undernourished, weighing only 45 kg on the bathroom scale – which I would grow to dislike.


And, finally coming home to settle, in the dreary late nineties, my choosiness on matters of food and diet began to slowly fizzle out as I came upon and re-entered that shared, traditional cuisine that I had grown on and quit some seven years earlier – arguably in favour of something healthier, more ethical and ‘spiritual’, to use a popular cliché!

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WeekendLife

BOMU spruce up dirty laundry

30th March 2021
BOMU awards

Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) is known for its bad reputation that has been getting worse over the years. There has been a lot of chinwag, squabbles and the organization literally lost touch. It has gotten so bad that stakeholders pulled out, and members were left with no choice but to face the music alone.

Just when you’d think the waters are calm, the new Executive Committee awarded a fledgling company, Total Music Group, to handle the 2021 music awards. This move was seen as a biased decision that got BOMU members bent out of shape.

However, BOMU Secretary General, Rasina Rasina told Weekendlife that the Executive Committee that it has many irons in the fire. He indeed admitted without reluctance that, BOMU has been clouded by hubbub.

“We pledged when the new administration took over that it would begin with cleaning our own house. We have built structures as we had promised and we are glad that they are fully functional. One of those is the disciplinary committee.”

“BOMU has for a long time appeared to be lacking discipline and proper laid down procedures. This has led to the organization losing out big in its endeavour to serve its members and the entire music fraternity. The National Executive Committee, chapter committees and sub-committees have committed to ensuring that non proper governance and accountability shall take centre stage and this is all that is happening,” Rasina told Weekendlife on Tuesday.

Rebuilding and rebranding a disintegrated intuition such as BOMU is not just a walk in the park, it needs concerted efforts and team work to actually reach that goal. A stitch in time saves nine, but as for BOMU, the entire union failed to address its dares a long time ago, but the union says everything is on track in recuperating public trust and fixing the mess created then.

BOMU Research and Policy Committee is hard finalizing a new code of conduct which will contribute significantly to how members and leadership conduct themselves and relate with each other for the furtherance of BOMU’s mandate, Weekendlife has been reliably informed.

“We are doing everything according to our constitution, logic and reason. We advise our members that they should point out where the constitution has been breached and that they are at liberty to follow due process and report any misconduct to the disciplinary committee,” said Rasina.

This is following the suspension of some executive committee members and BOMU subscribed members for questioning the integrity in awarding the music awards tender. Some members, told Weekendlife that they will seek legal advice on the matter.

“We do have members who have already appeared before the disciplinary committee on various charges and decisions are yet to be taken. We also have members who are yet to appear before the committee for various complaints levelled against them. Current suspensions are related to various complaints and offences.”

With regard to appointing Total Music Group, BOMU National Executive Committee says it used Article 9.3.19 of its constitution. The article says; “The National Executive Committee of BOMU shall have the authority to enter into legally binding contracts on behalf of the Union.’’

Rasina says the leadership needed a company to manage, host and sell the BOMU awards for five years consecutively so as to attain stability and refurbish the brand image of both the music awards and the organization. “Without any money at our disposal, we debated on the best model and agreed that we should engage a company that also has the capacity to mobilize resources. We used our discretion and decided on a direct appointment model which is perfectly legal and constitutional.”

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WeekendLife

SENEO PERRY: Beauty with a purpose

24th March 2021
Seneo Perry

To a stranger, Seneo Perry would describe herself as a young darling zealous about wildlife conservation, international travel and tourism enthusiast.

She is also a staunch believer in empowering young children through educational programs that could expose them to live improved livelihoods.

Perry is a former beauty queen (Miss Earth Botswana 2020). For her, a beauty queen should get down and put in some work, get dirt and make an impact. Of course a picture paints a thousand words, and judging from her successful projects, she lives the talk.

During her reign, Perry adopted the SOS Children’s Village. This is a home for 92 orphaned and less privileged children. She introduced few projects to aid the running of the children village, at the same time sourcing sponsors. She named one of her projects ‘Restoring the Prime Colors of the Earth.’

Restoring The Prime Colors of the Earth was founded on the basis of teaching children about the importance of conservation and environmental protection through tree planting and vegetable gardens.

The project, she told Weekendlife this week, gained local and international recognition, particularly from tourism magazines.

COVID-19 came over and messed up her strategies for the year. Perry however did not cry over spilt milk instead she was smart enough to divert into other streams of raising funds to execute her obligations.

Perry did not put all of her eggs in one basket by doing something that could make her get infected, but rather sold t-shirts that would double as a promotion strategy dubbed #PeopleWildlifeEnvironment. To this date, she raised over P7000.

“I love being out in the wild and promoting sustainable tourism. I would then pick the best 10 children that worked very hard at the project I have with them and introduce them to the wild with the money I raised,” she said in an exclusive interview.

“The idea is to stick to making the trip for the children educational especially on the aspect of conservation because realistically speaking tourism is the backbone of conservation.

I want them to have first-hand experience with the African elephant and visit the Elephant Havens Wildlife Foundation in Maun. Unfortunately due to floods in Moremi Game Reserve, the plan of a game drive has been aborted.”

Initially, Perry says she wanted the children to have been those from the SOS Children’s Village. She had to put them on ice due to insufficient funds to transport them to Maun. This however did not dishearten Perry, instead she located Bana Ba Letsatsi (in Maun) to embark on this journey.

She told Weekendlife that the trip will be undertaken today (Saturday 20th March 2021).“Tourism has always been the backbone of conservation and it needs to be protected. Therefore, it is imperative to introduce children to wild spaces so they get to appreciate the ecosystem in the wild.

These young children will be leaders and decision makers in the near future. Decisions made will either cause a catastrophe to the wild or help it recover to a point wherein both humans and animals co-exist.

Seneo Perry is an environmentalist equipped with a Bachelor’s Degree in Entrepreneurial Business Leadership from Sheffield Hallam University and Miss Earth Botswana 2019 finalist. She was crowned Queen in 2020.

She is also a member of Kalahari Conservation Society, a conservation society which is instrumental in environmental initiatives and activities that concern the environment.

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WeekendLife

Sasa Klaas: A life fiercely lived

15th March 2021
Sasa Klaas

Beyoncé once said in one of her famous songs; ‘I’m a grown woman, I can do whatever I want’ and Sasa Klaas took those lyrics to heart, living her life according to what pleased her, not caring how people perceived her. Klaas was unapologetic about how she lived her life.

Sasa was born Sarona Motlhagodi on the 17th May 1993, daughter to Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Annah Motlhagodi. Sasa’s music career took off when she collaborated with Scar in ‘A ke mo khande’, soon after that she became a presenter on etv’s The Foundation: The Next Level from 2011-2012, following which she released her first solo hit Hadsan.

Klaas was mostly known for her hit single MmaMongwato, released in 2015 and in between she featured on many songs with the likes of songstress Samantha Mogwe, BanT, William Last KRM, to mention but a few. Her last song was with her on and off boyfriend Baxon, releasing ‘The best things’.

Sasa was an embodiment of a 21st century phenomenal woman. She challenged stereotypes associated with women in the male-dominated music industry, breaking glass ceilings to become the country’s most recognised female rapper.

A thick skin she had, she would take criticism as sarcasm and laugh off all trolls made about her. Obviously criticism hurts, but for her, it was more of a learning curve to be sturdier rather than a stumbling block.

Her controversial nude posts didn’t sit well with a number of people but that did not stop the artist from living her life as she pleased. Skin, especially on social media, has been regarded as distasteful but for Klaas it was another form of art, it was her idea of feminism. She was a nudist and unapologetic about it.

For so many young women in this generation, showing your skin is being content with yourself, at least, some learnt this from Klaas.

Living life like there is no tomorrow doesn’t necessarily mean going way too fast with the trends. It actually denotes to being able to delight yourself with the premium things you like. This means going out on vacations, checking in at the best hotels in town and catching up with friends.

She was a fun enthusiast (unapologetically so), and a bubbly figure who would pose for pictures at any given time. Klaas lived her life fiercely and fearlessly. Her passion and pursuit for the things she loved was unmatched.

SASA KLAAS’ DEATH
Saturday 6th March 2021 was never the same again. Self-proclaimed queen of hip-hop, singer, songwriter, influencer, socialite, feminist, activist and go-getter Sarona Motlhagodi was shockingly announced dead on this day.

It has been reported numerous times that Sasa Klaas died of a helicopter crash at Xumabee Game Ranch, in the West Sandveld near Sojwe. According to an official communication from government, the pilot was unable to execute a safe landing.

An official statement from the family spokesperson and uncle to Sasa, Frans Van Der Westhuizen said that at the time of her death, Sasa was in a helicopter with one Leonard Matenge. Matenge survived the crash having sustained minor injuries. The preliminary findings from the helicopter are yet to be concluded by the aviation authority.

BECOMING MMAMONGWATO
Sasa Klaas climbed the industry ladder steadily over the years since her debut, cementing herself as a household power brand. “Over the years, I have grown from that young woman, I have found a new sound and direction that I am now following.”

Her hot single release ‘MmaMongwato’ sent all her young and old aficionados to cloud 9. They obsessed over the hit and it is without doubt Sasa Klaas did justice to the song, so much so it had social media and radio stations in a frenzy.

The queen herself, said the inspiration behind the song stems from the norm where slim women have been projected as the ideal model of beauty. Technically, she represented women with her full figure-ness, a description so familiar with Bangwato women, hence the title of the song ‘MmaMongwato’.

Since then, Sasa Klaas challenged women to be themselves. She was a feminist and would use her social media to effect change as best as she could. She had over 140 000 followers on her Facebook page before her untimely demise.

When addressing the media at the time (June 2015), Sasa Klaas said, “We have learnt that the feminine side has not been given a chance for expression. Women are always seen as a sex symbol.MmaMongwato is a song I dedicated to women and it will help remove that mentality.”

THE MUSIC INDUSTRY LEFT REELING
The sudden passing on of Sasa Klaas has left the music industry shattered and in despair. The queen of rap was indeed the people’s bae, even artists in neighbouring countries have sent their messages of condolence, South African rapper Tuks Senganga being one of them.

In Botswana many fellow artists have taken to social media to show their shock and send messages of condolence to the family.

“You represented women in the male dominated industry. I appreciate you for representing women, teaching them to love and appreciate themselves,” wrote Amantle Brown. “Your absence will be evident and it will be felt in every single way,” says Samantha Mogwe.

Vee Mampeezy has urged Batswana to continue celebrating Sasa’s life and changing their Facebook profile pictures to any picture of Sasa, most followers have done so in respect of the life lived by Klaas.

May your soul rest in peace Sarona ‘Sasa Klaas’ Motlhagodi.

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