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My BOMU Story on the President’s Day Arts Competitions

Rasina Winfred Rasina

Events Review

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim! I was only a few months in the office as the Botswana Musicians Union Secretary General, the year was 2008. I had a fulltime job at the British Council as the programmes, Marketing and Communications Manager. I did not know that I was going to also be fulltime at BOMU. My idea was that as a Board member, it was going to be an easy journey.

 

After a tiring election campaign into BOMU office, and the aftermath of the those who campaigned against us and lost developed some form of energy to battle the election outcomes, I did not know that there was a huge task ahead of me and my team. It is this battles that taught me that BOMU needs complete transformation. But this is not what I talk about now, I am at this time simply recalling a story….gape koore hela nna vaar vaar hake battle gogata ope dikhonse wabona….!….


I remember that fateful day when I was called to the office of the Department of Arts and Culture for some emergency meeting. The agenda and subject matter was simply narrated to us. I must have been with Otsile ‘Oats’ Ramorwa, who was responsible for Research and Development, Zenzele Hirschfield who was the Deputy President, Nkgopolang Tlhomelang who was the President, Rebaone ‘Ntsoro’ Keitumele the then Public Relations Officer and my friend and brother; Percy Phetogo Bakwena who was the then BOMU Treasurer General. Back to the narrative, it was that the then new state President; Seretse Khama Ian Khama had issued an instruction that there should be national President’s Day Arts Competitions.


It was during that meeting that the Ministry told us that there was a small budget in place. I could tell that the planning, though said to be in place, was too sketchy for my liking. I asked a few questions and everytime I was blocked with some irritating phrase that “nyaa Rraetsho obatla reedira jaana….”….well, overtime I learnt that it was all a lie meant to cover….emmmmm….boatla….!….so that we don’t question and just know that it is an instruction from above.…hahahahahaha.…kana lona galoitse dilo tse….we used to be in an era where everyone who wanted to abuse you, to use you, to deny you a constructive debate, in fear that you might expose their lack of understanding and comprehension, you will simply be told that….Rraetsho orile redire jaana….!….kwakwakwakwa….and for some reason Rraetsho meant the State President himself.


Well, the plan as drafted by the Ministry was that we will have one big musical event where musicians will compete for three positions and win some form of money; peanuts if you ask me. I found the idea a good one. But I found the plan to execute it not doable and terrible conceived.

 

And I could smell a lie….hakere okile wautla maaka ankga….that there is no how the state president will issue a directive with details. It was all some officers panicking, not knowing what to do, yet not opening up about their minds, brains and souls shooting blanks!….hare loseka lwaba bolelela….batho ba ditsala tsame…..!….golo koo kegone ko morogong wame…….keaseba….!…But tell me; how do you get all musicians to compete at the same event for a price, without regionalization, without categories…..hahahahahaha….that competition will take half a year to complete.


Well, the administrative bully in me decided to ask for a night to think about the whole thing. I had not consulted my team that I intend asking to be given some time. Luckily my team always trusted my decision making processes. I told the Ministry, in that very meeting, that they were expecting our input in a huge project within a few minutes, and it was impossible.

 

I did not want to rubber stamp rubbish….gape nna hake bari hakere….the meeting ended as thus and was set up for the following morning at 0900hrs. Parting with my team, they gave me all their blessing in going to think about it on their behalf. I went home, and began to do the thinking until midnight.


When I was satisfied with the plan, I worked on the paper work. The plan from my mind ended up on paper that it will be best to begin these competitions at regional levels. I knew it will have budget implications. The administrative bully in me reached a point that if they refused my plan, BOMU was not getting involved. I divided the country into four regions; Kang, Maun, Francistown and Gaborone. I then included the national finals to be held in Gaborone comprising of the top three artists from each Regional competition.

 

I concluded the budget…..akanya hela kaha kesaitseng dipalo kateng….I knew I was supposed to send it to the Treasure General for input, but there was no time. I made a decision to finalise it alone and to be ready to defend it. It included venue bookings for all events, sound system for all events, transport for BOMU officials, meals and refreshments, accommodation, adjudication fees, travel allowances for BOMU officials, stationery and some form of BOMU management fee….gankake ka bua gore ene ele bokae…..loka ntlhabelwa ke ditlhong…..that is the problem with modesty!


When I was done, at about 0400hrs in the morning, I woke up Phuthego ‘PC’ Chere who was at my house. He looked into the document and plainly told me that it was ridiculous, that the Ministry will never agree to such a thing. I told him, if they refuse it then BOMU is not getting involved.

 

I was doing it in the interest of our members and not in the interest of the Ministry….ampo Rraetsho….at 0730hrs in the morning I was doing the unthinkable; booking venues, transport, accommodation and finalizing dates, yet the meeting was at 0900hrs to present and seek authorisation and approval. I believed that, no sensible person will refuse such a well thought plan and attention to detail….gape gobua nnete….I trusted Mr. Molebatsi to be reasonable…..there was also the motherly Mma Ndzinge who for some reason always trusted my crazy ideas as others saw them.


When we got to the meeting, my colleagues did not tell the Ministry that they did not have an input, they simply gave an impression that we worked on the whole thing together. That was a plus for me. I had a buy in. I presented, tired, having not slept, yet with outmost confidence and deep seated arrogance that; if they refuse, we are not getting involved.

 

When I was done, I could tell that it has gone through, each person took their turn to congratulate BOMU for being such elaborate and making the national project easier. The plan and budget were approved as presented without a single amendment. I had vindicated myself, that the Ministry had no plan. And above all, that the whole thing of this is how Rraetsho said it should be done was….maaka amatala….this whole thing of Rraetsho wants things to be done this way was to continue, but at BOMU it was never ever used against us anymore. We had refused to fall for the Rraetsho trap.


More interestingly, it was right away that the Ministry, in that meeting, opted and resolved to adopt the plan and budget for the other categories being; Traditional Dance. At that point we had only two categories if I remember well. It was before the introduction of Dikhwaere, Polka, Weaving, Basketry, Clay works etc into the Presidents’ Day Arts Competitions.


Well, the rest is history, I chill at my house watching the programme on television knowing my full input. But above all, I keep thanking my team, in particular the then BOMU President for allowing me to simply run BOMU as an administrative bully. It was during those times that BOMU was at its peak. We had men and women of repute who understood what has to be done, who knew the bigger picture.

 

I am ashamed to admit that all that has been reversed by lack of understanding that; it is not that when you are good on stage, good at writing a song, good at stage management, that you can be good at administering, coordinating, managing and leading an arts organisation……arts management….gase motogo….ke mmereko hela yoo tlhokanang letlhaloganyo….! BOMU needs help. Allahur Akbar!

The Journey Continues,


Rasina Winfred Rasina
Email: rwwrasina@gmail.com
Mobile: +267 71886794
Facebook Page: Rasina Winfred Winnie Rasina
Twitter: Rasina_W_Rasina

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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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