We Feel You FK, We Remember You We Shall Always Remember You, We Shall Not Forget You
Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim! Death came, knocked, we went into denial, we decided that we did not hear it, only after its stole FK, who was on an intellectual adventure, we then recalled that; but death did reach our shores, did knock and shouted, and FK did not tell us, that he had told death, that; I am coming home!
The theatre industry has lost an icon, a passionate theatre practitioner, a mentor, and inspiration and a lover of stage craft. Dr. Fani-Kayode Osazuwa Omoregie who was simply known as FK both to theatre practitioners, his students, his friends and members of staff at the University of Botswana. At his memorial service this past week, Vuyisele Otukile rightfully remarked that FK was a man of consistency. He only wore black……koore akanya hela monna anna hela aapere bontsho….keha ese story sebolaya motho ka kapiri yagagwe…….jkg…!…I met FK for the first time in the year 2000 at the University of Botswana where I was his student.
FK did not only teach English, he spoke it well with that Nigerian accent. He did not look like your typical Nigerian. The ones we meet at Mogoditshane and Hilbrow. He was neat, light skinned, with a warmth attitude. But something that struck everyone to a point of associating him with all kinds of things was that, he only wore black clothes. He drove a nice black car. He always had his black shoes shining and spotless. But his office was something else, it was a total mess. He was a Theatre Practitioner, a Practical Theatre Lecturer. His was not only an office, it was a space we met him to discuss scripts, to go through lines and worse enough, we kept our attire and props in his office. This is the space he shared with us, with his books and with all the props and costume that the ordinary audience see on stage after a set.
I recall the many moments that I walked into his class a few minutes after 7am, and FK had already left. He had this thing that 5 or so minutes after 7am, more than half of the class should have arrived. If that did not happen, he will simply go back to his office. If you came when the lesson had begun, you simply could not walk into either his class or the then student hall which we used as our theatre studio. I realise that now the University of Botswana has a proper theatre studio. I can only imagine the hustle he went through to get such approved. Our practical classes always began at 7am. It was his choice, he could have opted otherwise, but just like the late Professor Gilbert Sekgoma who taught me International Relations, FK opted for morning sessions. I hope that sounds well…well…it does…!…
I was to later confess to FK that though I am on paper an on campus student, I was in reality residing in Jwaneng where my late mother and my wife both resided. Except for my first year, I spent most of my varsity days driving from Jwaneng to Gaborone in the mornings and back to Jwaneng in the evenings. I had several projects going on, I had Abronia Theatre Productions Family scattered around the whole country to coordinate, I was trying my best to have Rasina Holdings running, and to be there for my then girlfriend. I also needed to spend some time at home, with my mother to continue gaining sanity and wisdom.
I was always travelling, and this naturally meant I was always away and hardly in class. Of course this was recognisable. It was only after I had explained this whole scenario to FK, in his office, after he had spent two weeks not even exchanging greetings with me that he began to appreciate the life I was leading. He will call when I am away. He will remind me of deadlines. He will also call for various other issues even beyond varsity life. This was FK, he hated to be lied to, for some reason he easily picked up a lie. The best way to deal with FK, no matter how much you had messed up, was to simply own up and tell him the truth. No matter how embarrassing it could be, you will be sure to be off the hook…gape akanya hela ore oaketsa mo Nigeri…osimolola hakae tota…?…
For most of us artists, we are generally very moody. The only good part is that we are able to play happy and receptive even in our dark moments. Theatre practitioners in particular are quite shy to engage openly in the streets unless with their close friends and fellow practitioners. But what was also different about FK was that he was moody, sometimes irritatingly grumpy even to us his fellow practitioners. Those who have been through FK’s Practical Theatre classes will particularly remember him as a that moody lecture who could simply spend two weeks without greeting anyone he will be at that point in time having issues with……bathong monna yole oneakgona gogongalela gore obo otlhaselwe ke bana ba pheho mo mogoteng wa tladi eamusa…!…But you see, when it was all done and dusted, when he was back to his happy moods, he was willing to engage and share with you where you made him unhappy. I was one of those who was always waiting for this moment. I always took advantage of such moments.
I was in the same Practical Class with the likes of Tomeletso Sereetsi who is now full time artist of the much embraced album; ‘four strings confessions’. I also recall Charles Tsiane who is now a teacher and a heavily loaded trade unionist. Charles Tsiane and FK were until the death of the latter, planning on starting a production house for the advancement of the theatre industry. I recall this particular two very well because of the trip that we took to Ghanzi and Maun respectively to perform the production; ‘Gaborone South’ which was written and Directed by FK. I recall these particular two friends because, the three of us had some teaching assistant roles to play both in FK’s classes and this subsequent production which was also used to determine cumulative assessment (CA), not only for us but the rest of the class…tota nna hela gobua nnete…I still don’t know how FK worked out the whole thing. I mean, a class of about 30 students or less, taking part in a theatre production; ‘Gaborone South’, of which all could not get a recognisable role, some being some sort of teaching assistants, yet having to be all graded fairly under one roof…gake batle gobua sepe ka kgang e…etloga enna okare bangwe rediretswe favours…
FK was visibly a fit and strong man both emotionally and physically, and the girls loved him…gontse hela jalo…hago molato goratwa…I have already mentioned that he was neat, always clean shaven and with outmost confidence and wearing that smile that he shared, mood allowing, with the world. Though quite uncomfortable to mention this; I am glad I did not get to see, meet and greet the slim, weak and ailing FK. I doubt I will have recovered from that sight. I am told that when he went back to work after his first illness, he looked frail and thin yet he joked to his students, those who looked stronger than him that ‘enjoy whilst it last, I shall be back’. He was to later get back to hospital, spent some time there and was to later never walk nor breathe again.
FK, on behalf of your former students, let me tell you this, we feel you FK, we remember you, we shall always remember you, and we shall not forget you, for we carry a part of you throughout our lives. FK, you taught us, trained us, inspired us and mentored us. We could have been nothing, but because of your selfless dedication and desire to ensure we realise our potential, we are something. We are because you were FK.
Dr. Fani-Kayode Osazuwa Omoregie was born on the 25th December 1963 in Nigeria. He obtained B.A.[Hons] and M.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of Jos Nigeria in 1985 and 1988 respectively and a PhD from the University of Botswana in 2013. He worked as a lecture at the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Jos between 1986 and 1992. He then moved on to the University of Zimbabwe where he stayed from 1992 until 1996. Between 1995 and 1996, he was the Chairman of the Theatre Arts Department at the University of Zimbabwe. He joined the University of Botswana in January 1997 as lecture in Drama in the English Department. He was promoted to the rank of Senior Lecturer in October 2012. He was transferred to the Department of Visual and Performing Arts after its establishment in 2013 where he remained up to the time of his passing. His passion was in the field of technical theatre, set and lightning design. He has published widely in local, regional and international journals. He was and is, an accomplished playwright and director for both stage and screen. He has mentored, inspired and assisted many creative artists wherever he has been to. He leaves behind a legacy that will endure for a very long period. Allahur Akbar!
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.
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”
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.”
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.
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.
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.