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These are the heroines of my life!

Publishing Date : 03 September, 2019


Last week, I paid tribute to one of the heroines of my life, Honourable Gladys Kokorwe, the living legend. This week, in commemoration of Women’s month, I pay tribute to several other heroines of my life.

Those in my home village, Tshesebe, know her as Magie or MaNkwebi. She was born Boatametsi Margret Mnungwa Morima. She would later be called MaaLameck with reference to our first Born, my elder brother. Today, she is commonly called MaaBinda or MaNkwebi. She is my mother, the daughter of my late grandmother, Kganetso ‘MaaBilly’ Morima, and my late grandfather, Johannes ‘TaTjikukwa’ Morima. She is my mother, the daughter in law to my late grandfather, Seroba ‘Ta Caphus’ Binda, and my grandmother, MaaMotsiripane.

Against all odds and adversity, she has served her community of Tshesebe and surrounding villages with distinction. As far back as the 1980s, when volunteerism was not yet fashionable and there were no allowances, she served as a volunteer Thuto Gaegolelwe facilitator under the Department of Non-Formal Education.

From the 1990s to date she has served in almost all committees in the village, including the Village Development Committee (VDC); Parents Teachers Association (PTA), Red Cross (RC) and, her passion, Home Based Care (HBC). It is with the latter that she has made the greatest of impact, assisting the sick, the needy and orphaned and vulnerable children. She has, of course with the assistance of others in the community, fed the hungry, housed the homeless, and nursed the chronically sick.

In meetings, she keeps minutes with the excellence of a Chartered Secretary, yet she is hardly educated, she, having sacrificed her own education for her siblings as was common in those days. Yet, she found time to nurture the growth of ten children, all of them boys, with twins for that matter. In fact, there was a time when her burden was twofold. This was in the 1990s when she and our father, Shadreck Caiphus ‘TaNkwebi’ Binda, housed four of her siblings and her mother.

Her name Boatametsi, from the phrase Boatametsi bogosi jwa legodimo, meaning the kingdom of God is upon us, was not in vain. Clearly, MaaBinda’s parents’ desires when they named her were not in vain. At Tshesebe Primary School, I met two other heroines of my life, Mma Maloiso and Mma Lenyatso. Mma Maloiso was firm, yet parental. She would punish us yet nurture us and give us hope. When punishing us she would utter the words ‘ndoo ku khwa zwikia’, but she said that with love. She also taught her own children, yet she treated all of us the same.

Mma Lenyatso was the Deputy Head Teacher, but she was, in fact, the de facto Head Teacher, yet she did that subtly without undermining the de jure Head Teacher. Nor did she raise alarm with the community and the authorities. What stands out for me is how she handled herself with calm when we lost our Head Teacher, Mr. Malunga, in traumatic circumstances. She became our mother and father. I later realized how much of a responsibility she had, but she never cracked. 

At Thamani Community Junior Secondary School (CJSS), I met another heroine of my life, Mma Ndzinge, who taught me Agriculture. She had such commitment to work that one could only admire even at such a young age. But what I admired more about her was her discipline. Her manner of dress was conservative, but impeccable. Even outside the classroom, she was the embodiment of a teacher, never to be been in such places as bars and bottle stores.

At Materspei College, I met another heroine of my life, Ms. Tebatso Menyatso, who taught me English Literature. It is her teaching of Harper Lee’s award-winning novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ that awoke, in me, the spirit of resistance to injustice. The way she highlighted the book’s themes of the scourges of rape and racial inequality was exceptional.

She lived what she taught. She was humble. She believed in fairness for all, and she treated her students alike despite their varying socio-economic circumstances. She would later exhibit these traits when she later worked for the Women Affairs Department (WAD) where she championed the cause for women emancipation and empowerment. 

At Tirelo Sechaba, I met another heroine of my life, Mma Barati, in whose home, in Bokaa, I lived with Herbert Mabutho. She accepted us, accommodated us and took care of us as if we were her own children. She gave us access to all the rooms in her house. She allowed us to use her furniture, cutlery and utensils, some of which I had never seen. When she visited, because she stayed in Gaborone, she brought us all sorts of food and goodies. I remember how she used to cook bogobe jwa ting for us.

Most importantly, she took keen interest in our lives. She gave us counsel, not as strangers, but as her own children. She taught her children, Barati, Molosiwa, Talita and Bonolo, that we were their brothers. Even when I later reunited with them, about ten years ago, they had the same regard for us. Unfortunately, Barati had departed before we met again. May her soul rest in eternal peace.

At Tonota College of Education (TCE), where I trained as a secondary school teacher, I met another heroine of my life, Mma Ntloedibe, who lectured us in Religious Studies. She taught with passion. She led a discipled life both within and outside the lecture room.
It was her exposition to the world’s religions and her emphasis on the religion’s ethical codes that made me fall in love with ethics, something which motivated me to teach Moral Education and write books on the subject though I had not studied it.

At Molopo River CJSS in Phitshane Molopo where I first taught, I met another heroine of my life, the late Mma Sebonego, who was the School Head. She turned my youthful exuberance into positive energy, allowing me to grow by mentoring me when I served in the school’s Management Team and the School Board of Governors as the Teachers’ Representative.

Admittedly, at the time, owing to my leftist inclination, and having been in the Student Representative Council (SRC) at the College, I was ‘troublesome’, but she never sidelined me. She gave me responsibilities when I deserved them, and she denied me when I was not deserving. When I started my writing career, she supported me, giving me leave of absence to deliver my manuscripts in Gaborone, and allowing me to attend workshops organized by my Publishers.

When I started my volunteerism with the Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC), she allowed me to attend meetings and workshops. She allowed the youth free access to the school’s resources. It was during my stay at Phitshane Molopo that I met another of my heroines, Mrs. Chuma Sesinyi, who was the District Youth Officer.

Her love for youth development when youth development was not yet as fashionable as today was unparalleled. She served the youth selflessly, sometimes putting her own job at risk by supporting youth Non-Governmental Organizations beyond the parameters set by government. Her support for the then Good hope Sub-District Youth Council, Borolong District Youth Council and Southern District Youth Councils, which I had the privilege of serving as chairperson, was without measure.

Unfortunately, we parted when I left teaching and the district to join BNYC. Fortunately, my loss was soon replaced when I met yet another heroine of my life, Mrs. Tlhabologo Nzdinge, when she served as the Director of the Department of Culture & Youth. She heightened, in me, the spirit of selfless youth service; the spirit of country commitment and honor. The youth called her ‘mother’ for she was truly a mother to our youth, a shoulder to cry on, a symbol of hope. She was a Permanent Secretary who never became Permanent Secretary.

Her doors were always open for the youth not because she sought political mileage, but because she truly believed in youth development. She lived the principle that there is nothing for the youth without the youth. This, she exhibited during the revision of the National Youth Policy (NYP) and the National Youth Strategy (NYS) as well as during the development of the Guidelines for the National Youth Development Fund (NYDF) when she ensured that youth from all sectors of the population were involved.

Mojamorago ke Kgosi. When she was born, her mother, Tsholofelo Lebanna, named her Masego, meaning blessings. When her grandmother soothed her, she sang sehela sa Lontone, ‘O bale Masego a gago a oa neilweng ke Modimo.’ Her surname was Lebanna. Today, she is Dr. Masego Mercy Morima. She is my wife, the mother of our one and only child, Ndulamo Anthony Prasad Morima Jr. I call her Moskie.

When we got married, about twenty years ago, we truly became a part of one another. To my younger brothers, she became the sister they never had. To my mother, she became the daughter she never had. Born to a single parent, and from a humble family, she worked against all odds to educate herself from the Diploma in Secondary Education that government sponsored her for, to a Doctorate of Philosophy in Business Management.

I thank her mother, my mother in law, the late Tsholofelo Lebanna, for giving birth to such a spirit. I thank her grandmother, the matriarch, the late Mma Ntebang, for nurturing this great spirit, for when she speaks of her, tears roll down her cheeks. I thank the Lebanna family for raising her into the diamond she has become. When I traversed the length and breadth of this country during my time at BNYC she kept the fire burning and took care of our son. When my writing kept me away from home for days without end, she kept the lights on and the water running.

She stood by me during the tribulations I faced at BNYC, especially after I became Executive Director when some in the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) wanted me fired because they believed I was pro-Opposition. When they finally had their way and I was fired, she was there for me, for our son, for my family. Her love never wavered. Together, we burnt the mid-night oil during our studies with University of South Africa, and later North West University. She used to remind me that she will never rest until I become a practising attorney, and today I am.

When I met her, she told me that her dream is to one day hold a Doctorate of Philosophy, and I assured her that I will not rest until she attains her dream, and today she is Dr. Masego Mercy Morima (PhD). These are the heroines of my life! Even if Allah, The All Merciful, calls on me now, I will be content for I know I have paid my debt by celebrating most, if not all, of the women who made me what I am today.



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