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Remembering the unwanted: Kgosi Seepapitso IV

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

We continue with the series where we remember those of our heroes and heroines who, though unwanted by government, made immense contributions to the legacy we will be celebrating this year. This week we discuss Kgosi Seepapitso IV of BaNgwaketse who passed away on 24th March 2010.

In remembering Kgosi Seepapitso IV’s contributions to this country we shall not pretend that he was without fault. Faults he no doubt had and such will be exposed with as much vigour as his virtues will be exposed. Yet, emphasis will be made that his faults notwithstanding he deserves a place in our country’s history. He at least deserves a mention when we celebrate fifty years of independence.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ press statement of 2nd July 2003, Kgosi Seepapitso IV, born Seepapitso Bathoeng Gaseitsewe, was born on 17th October 1933 in Thabanchu, South Africa to the late Kgosi Bathoen II and Mafane Gaseitsiwe (born Moroka).

He went to Tigerkloof Institution (for primary education and matriculation) in South Africa (1946-1955) and Moeng College (1956-1957). He held a Diploma in Public Administration from South Devon Technical College in the United Kingdom (1958-1960).

Kgosi Seepapitso IV had an illustrious public service career. He was District Development Officer, Department of Unified Local Government Services – Serowe (District Commissioner's Office) (1960-1961); District Officer – Kanye (Tribal Administration) (1963-1966); and Deputy Town Clerk, Gaborone Town Council (1967-1969).

Kgosi Seepapitso IV was Deputy Chairman, House of Chiefs (1970-1972); Land Board Chairman – Kanye (1970-1975); Paramount Chief (BaNgwaketse Tribe) (1970-24th March 2010); and Chairman, National Health Association and Chairman, Kanye Brigades (1973-1996). Kgosi Seepapitso IV served as the Chairman of the House of Chiefs for many years (1970-1973; 1977-1989; 1991-1993; 1996-1998 and 2005-2008).

Kgosi Seepapitso IV also served Botswana in its Diplomatic relations. He was Ambassador to the United States of America (May 2000 – August 2002) in which capacity he was concurrently accredited to Canada and Mexico. From September 2002 to 2nd July 2003 he was Botswana’s Ambassador to China.

He also served as High Commissioner-Designate to Singapore (September 2002) concurrently accredited to Malaysia (Feb 2003 to 2nd July 2003); and High Commissioner to Singapore, resident in Beijing (2nd July 2003).

Kgosi Seepapitso IV was a member of the Citizenship Committee (1982-1997); Vision 2016 Task Force (1995) and was Chairman of the Sports Commission in 1998. He was also a member of the Rural Development Council (RDC) representing Bogosi. I had the privilege of serving with him as member of the RDC.
My account of him is that he was an independent minded person who fought for marginalized groups. He spoke fearlessly against poor service delivery by the government. In him all of us who represented such civil society interest groups as the youth, faith-based organizations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector had an advocate.

Kgosi Seepapitso IV was Chairperson of Ntlo ya Dikgosi for about twenty four years and he used his position to lobby for the promotion of Setswana culture and elevation of the status of Customary Law.

For instance, as a result of a point he raised and his persistence thereto the Attorney General, Athalia Molokomme, assured Ntlo ya Dikgosi that government would in future try to incorporate Setswana customary marriage law and statutory marriage law into a single entity.

Molokomme had accompanied the then Assistant Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Olifant Mfa, to Ntlo ya Dikgosi where he briefed Dikgosi on the progress made since the Abolition of Marital Power Act was enacted.

Despite such an illustrious public service career and his ambassadorial positions Kgosi Seepapitso IV was no friend of Government. In fact there are some who believe that the only reason he was appointed to the diplomatic mission was to get rid of him so that government implements some development in Ngwaketse while he was away which he had blocked over the years.

In 1994, the then Minister of Local Government, Lands and Housing(hereinafter referred to as the Minister), the late Chapson Jabavu Butale, suspended Kgosi Seapapitso IV as chief of BaNgwaketse on the ground that he was not a fit and proper person to be chief in terms of section 12 of the Chieftainship Act (Cap. 41:01).

The reasons for Kgosi Seepapitso IV’s suspension as given by the Minister and reflected in court judgments were that the proposed visit of His Excellency President Frederick Chiluba of Zambia at Kanye on 13th April 1994 had to be cancelled in the face of lack of coordinated preparation for the visit owing to his non-co-operation and in the light of uncertainty as to his whereabouts on that day.

The other reason given was that a kgotla meeting which the Minister was to address to explain this cancellation to the BaNgwaketse did not take place due to Kgosi Seepapitso IV’s non-cooperation. The Minister also gave Kgosi Seepapitso IV’s past behaviour as a reason for his suspension without citing specifics of such past behavior.

After suspending Kgosi Seepapitso IV, the Minister installed Kgosi Seepapitso IV’s son, the then heir apparent, the late Leema Gaseitsiwe, on an acting capacity. He also withheld fifty percent of Kgosi Seepapitso IV’s salary as chief.

It is common cause that Leema Gaseitsiwe’s life would never be the same because though he was, after Kgosi Seapapitso IV’s reinstatement, appointed as Court President in Jwaneng where he worked before he had a car accident in 1999 which left him paralyzed, he never lived like an heir apparent until his death on 23rd February 2013.  

Kgosi Seepapitso IV’s suspension led to such acrimony between government and BaNgwaketse that government business in the tribal area was compromised. Minister Butale himself was not welcome in Ngwaketse and he was given the nickname Butala, meaning that he is raw. Unfortunately, the issue of tribalism also crept in as some made insinuations that Minister Butale, a Mokalaka, cannot suspend a MoNgwaketse.

The matter of Kgosi Seepapitso IV’s suspension went to the courts up to the Court of Appeal in the case of Gaseitsiwe v The Attorney-General 1996 BLR 54 (CA) and Justices of Appeal Aguda JA, Lord Wylie JA and Hoexter JA (as they then were) upheld the suspension.

But, why was Kgosi Seepapitso IV unwanted by Government? Some opine that government believed he was a member of the Botswana National Front (BNF) and influenced his tribe to vote for the BNF. Government’s belief, it is argued, was influenced by the fact that his father, the late Kgosi Bathoen II, was a member of the BNF.

Not only that. According to Mmegi’s edition of 22nd August 2011 titled ‘Paying tribute to Kgosi Bathoen II’, “…the man who had been Kgosi Bathoen II for over 41 years now became known as Gaseitsewe Bathoen and went on to beat Ketumile Masire at the general elections, making him the first Kgosi to become a Member of Parliament (MP)”.

It is also thought that government believed that Kgosi Seepapitso IV blocked developments in Ngwaketse so that it remains undeveloped in order to perpetuate the perception that government does not care about BaNgwaketse. According to these people, the only time government was able to implement many developments in Kanye, for example, was when Kgosi Seepapitso IV was away on diplomatic assignments.

Kgosi Seepapitso IV had his faults. He failed to use his position as paramount chief and Chairman of Ntlo ya Dikgosi to influence government to move speedily in according equal recognition of all tribes in Botswana. He participated in the perpetuation of tribalism through the so-called main and minority tribes arrangement.

It was under Kgosi Seepapitso IV’s reign that Barolong and Bakgatla Ba ga Mmanaana were subjugated and referred to as BaNgwaketse when they are in fact not. He also participated in the piece meal solution to the tribal discrimination entrenched in our Constitution by retaining a Ntlo ya Dikgosi which still has members from the so-called minority tribes entering Ntlo ya Dikgosi through elections while those from the so-called main tribes enter it as a birth right.

With respect to his suspension from Bogosi in 1994, he, on occasion, exhibited radicalism inconsistent with the position of responsibility he held and his position in society. No matter how aggrieved by the government he may have been, sabotaging a visit of a head of state was taking it to the extreme.

Kgosi Seepapitso IV’s faults notwithstanding, he is a hero worthy of recognition as we celebrate fifty years of independence. His was a life of selfless service to his people. His was a life well lived.

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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