Just last week I started a series whose purpose is to celebrate our heroes and heroines during their lifetime; not when they have departed this world. There is no doubt that Kebatlamang Morake was going to be part of the series.
Unfortunately, before I could celebrate him as a living hero he, according to the Chairperson of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Communications Committee, Thapelo Pabalinga, departed this world on 29th August 2017 after a long illness. This fallen hero deserves not just an obituary, but a tribute. Though I am unqualified to write a tribute for such a giant of a man I will try my best to steal from the writings of my fellow writers to write such a tribute.
Born on 21st November 1930 in Tonota village, Morake, from 1939 to 1947, went to Tonota School. He then, after completing standard six, trained as a teacher at Kanye Teacher Training College, completing his studies in 1950. From 1951 to 1952 he studied at Tiger Kloof Institution, Vriburg, South Africa, where he obtained his Junior Certificate (JC). Morake is on record as saying the former Director of Education, Harold Jowitt, who was then based in Mafikeng had been so impressed by his performance that he offered him scholarship to study at Tigerkloof.
He is quoted as saying "I enrolled for the three year Junior Certificate but completed it in two years instead. I schooled with the likes of BaNgwaketse Paramount Chief, Kgosi Seepapitso IV and the first Attorney General, the late Moleleki Mokama, among others." Morake did not, however, spend all his time studying. He knew the value of sports and recreation. In his younger days, he was a celebrated footballer who played for Tafa, Tafic and Gaborone United football clubs. Morake began teaching at Tonota in 1953 and spent eleven years there, rising through the ranks to the position of head teacher, a venerated position at the time. He joined the BDP in 1962 when he was still a teacher.
In 1965 he went for further studies in England where he read for an advanced teachers’ course at the Institute of Education, Newcastle-on-Tyne, a feat which could only be achieved by truly exceptional students. Though no doubt a teacher at heart, his colleagues so in him a politician and leader. In preparation for a political career he was, after independence, sent by his party, the BDP, for political training courses in Britain, West Germany, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya. On his return, he was, in 1965, appointed the first Executive Secretary of the BDP. He was also appointed the Editor of the party newspaper, Therisanyo. From January to March 1967 he was sent to the United States of America (USA) as a guest of the State Department studying Political Administration and Organisation.
Reportedly, during his tenure as BDP Executive Secretary and Editor of the BDP newspaper, Therisanyo, Morake ardently promoted and defended the party’s policies and programmes. It is obviously because of this that he attracted the attention of the then president, the late Sir Seretse Khama who is reported to have held Morake in such high regard that he often delegated him to officiate at events on his behalf. Consequently, after the 1969 general elections, he was nominated and elected as specially elected Member of Parliament (MP) after which he was appointed Assistant Minister responsible for Information and Broadcasting Services in the Office of the President (OP).
In 1970, while in a study tour of Great Britain, he studied Broadcasting Services, augmenting his journalism acumen which had hitherto been hinged mainly on information services. In an interview on 21st July 2005 with Mmegi’s veteran journalist, Ryder Gabathuse, Morake said a major breakthrough in his political career came in 1971 following the appointment of former Mmadinare MP, Amos Dambe, as an ambassador to USA. He contested and won the Mmadinare parliamentary by-election after which he was appointed Assistant Minister in the then Ministry of Local Government and Lands, working under the late Englishman Kgabo. The following year, he became a full cabinet minister in the same ministry.
In 1974 Morake won parliamentary elections after which he was appointed Minister of Education, a ministry he would serve for fifteen years, becoming the longest serving Minister of Education in Botswana. According to Gabathuse, he was proud that the record is yet to be broken. The fifteen years that Morake spent as Minister of Education was perhaps the most productive in the development of Botswana’s education system. It was during this time that Community Junior Secondary Schools were establishment. If there is anyone who deserved an honorary Doctorate it is Morake.
According to Gabathuse, Morake has stated that these schools came as a result of the recommendation of the first education commission which he says he ensured was implemented. Among his other achievements were the expansion of the secondary school education; and the introduction of pension for teachers. During his days in Parliament, he became popular for using the Kalanga analogy of ‘shololaviya’, which directly translates to mean one who spends the whole day skinning an animal, to make the point that development is not an event, but a process and that a solution to a problem creates other problems elsewhere.
Morake has also served this country as Minister of Health from 1989 to 1991 and Minister of Agriculture from 1991 to 1994. Unfortunately, in 1994, he lost the Selebi-Phikwe constituency. In the same year his wife died. However, as a true disciple of the BDP, Morake has, despite losing the elections, always remained a committed BDP member. He did not, like some of his fellow democrats, defect from the BDP, not even in 2010 when the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) splintered from the BDP.
Morake has, to the best of my knowledge, lived a life of virtue in both his public and personal life. I am not aware of any scandal he was involved in. He may have lived his final days with neither gold nor silver, but he departs this world a virtuous men. The question is: what did we, as Batswana, do to appreciate this gift of a life that God had blessed us with? Can we not have used a tenth of what we have spent in his funeral preparations to make his life a little better, especially during his final days?
We have such other gifts as Dr. Gaositwe Chiepe, Michael Dingake, David Magang, Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe, Gilson Saleshando, Dr. Margret Nasha, Ntombi Setshwaelo, Gladys Kokorwe, Professor Lydia Nyathi-Saleshando, Daniel Kwelagobe, Ephraim Lepetu Setshwaelo to mention but just a few. Are we going to wait until their demise before we can celebrate them? Are we going to let them depart uncelebrated like Sir Ketumile Masire, Professor Thomas Tlou, Dr. Kenneth Koma, Paul Rantao, Mareledi Giddie, Maitshwarelo Dabutha, Klaas Motshidisi, Kgosi Linchwe II, Kgosi Seepapitso IV, Chapson Jabavu Butale, Clara Olsen, Eitlhopha Mosinyi to mention but a few?
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.