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Gov’t should consider Dikgosi’s pleas

Publishing Date : 23 September, 2019

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The issue of Bogosi and politics has resurfaced again. As usual, what is driving this narrative is politics. The founding fathers had foreseen during formative years that mixing politics with Bogosi will produce disastrous effect; dividing the people and undermining the integrity of the institution itself.

When Sir Seretse Khama returned home in 1956 from exile, he returned under one condition: that he was abdicating his throne. Having abdicated his throne, he then joined politics and later became the country’s first President. As the founding President, Seretse knew that his party enjoyed electoral support mainly on the account of his background; born-chief of Bangwato, the most influential tribe in the country. He knew that despite the advantages he enjoyed, it was necessary to disabuse the nation particularly his morafe of the fact that the country’s presidency was the preserve of Bangwato chieftainship — that Bogosi and national politics were worlds apart, contending that whoever wanted to join the latter, they should give away their thrones.

It is evident that the spirit of Seretse’s intentions could have been misunderstood, especially by the Dikgosi, who later left Bogosi for politics, including his son Lt Gen Ian Khama. This is so because in 1978, when Seretse was installing his son as Chief of Bangwato, he indicated that after he agreed to British’s demands for him to return to Botswana, as a commoner, he never expected his children to be considered “Dikgosi” in future because he gave-up the throne.

As a politician, Seretse never gave any hint of him desiring to return to Bogosi in future. Even the installation of his son, Ian Khama as Paramount Chief of Bangwato in 1978, was done at the insistence of his uncles, who were of the view that, although he himself gave up the throne, it would be improper for him do deny his son the privilege which he would naturally enjoy as a birth right.  

Seretse believed in absolute abdication, which is not the case in today’s society. Today, what Dikgosi do, is to take leave, then return to their thrones later. This is contrary to what Seretse envisaged when he talked about abdication. Today, as a nation, we should engage seriously on the disastrous effects of politicians or political parties who use Bogosi as a political weapon. It is evident that Bogosi is a very influential institution, but such influence can be used to serve other purposes in the nation rather than partisan politics.

Dikgosi, as seen with Ian Khama, Tawana Moremi and Lotlaamoreng Montshioa in the last 20 years, had joined politics in search of power. It is the sense of having no power and less privileges which drive Dikgosi to politics. Dikgosi believe their voices are not heard, their authority is undermined and that they are being taken for granted. It is this frustration which has driven Dikgosi to politics, mainly to settle scores or to try to fight in the legislative house.

We need to go back to the drawing board. To find true spirit of Seretse’s intentions and see how best to address the situation. We need to give Dikgosi more authority and more privileges so that their roles are not undermined. Dikgosi are people we need to build better societies with. These are people who overlord over a huge number of people and can play an effective role in building societies that we desire; societies with strong moral values and sense of belong.  

In the past, before independence when Dikgosi had an influential role, it was Dikgosi like Tshekedi Khama, Bathoen Gaseitsiwe and many others who initiated community projects such as building of schools and dams for the communities. That is the true leadership we are lacking today. Going to the drawing board, most of the concerns raised by Members of Ntlo Ya Digkosi are valid, and it will not cost a lot if we were to consider implementing what they desire. The net effect will be for the good of the society.

Politics has continued to polarise the nation, and with Dikgosi having joined politics in the last few years, tribes are being polarised along political lines as well. This does not bode well for the nation. We need to go back to the drawing board and give Bogosi its rightful place in society, and the respect the institution it deserves.



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