We could pose the question in the language: A Batswana ba makgakga kgotsa mabela ka tlholego? It is a question we must grapple with because as one travels around, it becomes clear that our arrogance is legendary. I met a young man from Malaysia in the narrow streets of Brighton, England, and he surprised me. He says Nigerians are well known for their criminality, drugs, deception and being impostors while Batswana are well known for their arrogance and being highbrow. I did not know gore re makama, mabela le maikgantsho. That does call for introspection. There might even be some truth in the picture that we have created. Here in the country, many a foreigner have tasted the bitter scorn of our people. I remember how for many years university students despised internationally renowned professors just because they were from Uganda, Zimbabwe or some other African state. The common offensive label for such learned persons is makwerekwere! Boy I hear Theo Luzuka screaming: Plus I hear the literate thighs of an undergraduate! Not a long time ago Mpule Kwelagobe came to our desert shores being the fairest of them all as Miss Universe. She was shouted at, at the national stadium thronged by half drunks who called her names. Recently during the strike and after, much has been said about the president which could be said to be just rude and disgusting. One of these, which has been floating around Facebook, is a picture of the president blocked from the forehead to the lower lip with the following text: “E paletswe ke puso, mosadi le bana. Yone e palelwa ke sengwe le sengwe hela…E lapile jaanong…ga le a e bolella wat it takes to run a country…” All this is said of the country’s number one. Certainly we can differ and demonstrate anger and bitterness without sinking this low. This leads us to that haunting question: A Batswana ba makgakga? Take a trip to Lesotho, and you will be humbled by how these ancestors of the Tswana people show decorum and manners. They speak with such respect: Eeya ntate! Here in the country we are losing a sense of respect for our elders and for each other. To call a woman Mme mma Semangmang has now escaped us. You hear it every day wherever you go: Ian o rile…Festus o rile…sometimes he is even called Lefesto! A tota re makgakga as a nation? Have we no sense of politeness? When did we lose it and how? It seems that as we have advanced economically and educationally as a society, we have been beaten by western winds. In the process we have collectively abandoned the national and cultural ideals for an unknown culture. We have failed to adopt the good of the foreign culture and fuse it with superior qualities of our own culture. We have failed to teach and emphasize right and wrong in our society without shame. We have literally abandoned botho and maitseo and considered them as backward and rustic. Unlike the Japanese and many eastern cultures we have failed to merge western development with our own traditional culture and mannerisms. At the level of the home, children do pretty much what they want with many parents having abrogated their right and responsibility to parent. From the tyranny of the stick, many parents have no clue of how to raise children. They think that the best way to show love is to give to a child whatever it wants. This disastrous parenting style results with children demanding more from the parent and stressing the inexperienced parent even the more. This breeds a culture of entitlement which is further strengthen by the welfare state with its free education, free medical care, Namola Leuba, Ipelegeng and a plethora of other handouts. Still in the home, the absent father or mother, or both, leave the children with the grandparents leading to insufficient discipline. The children therefore grow up exposed to all sorts of dangers. Many start experiment with alcohol, smoking and sex at an early stage leading to teenage pregnancy and addictions. Some sadly engage in cross-generation sex with adults ba ba tlhaelang botho le boitshwaro. Now you tell me if a child drinks and has sex with adults, o ka nna le maitseo jang? Somewhere in the background “Brothers of Peace” shout: O kae molao? Currently morally we are a country without direction and sadly we have no clue who has to provide such a bearing. We look to our leaders; but many are deep to their eyeballs in sin and feel they have no moral strength to guide and offer direction. You turn to the school; teachers feel it is not their place to provide moral guidance to the learners if their parents are incapable of instilling discipline. Some of the teachers even go further and encourage the rot as they sleep with their own students. You look to the home; the home smells of incest, abuse and parental negligence. Turn to the church; the pastor has one hand on the Bible and another one on a worshipper’s behind. His voice is almost hoarse as he screams out asking, demanding and pleading for more money from the poor worshippers.
The past forty years we have enjoyed much success. We have built great buildings and impressive highways. We have trained our children in some of the finest institutions of learning and have provided some of the finest medical care and national security. We have sadly forgotten one thing – terribly wrong. We have forgotten that the wellbeing of an individual is more than food, water and shelter. We have become like characters in Golding’s Lord of the Flies stuck out in a desert island. Morally we have descended into savagery and have turned onto each other from every corner. By so doing we have torn at our very core and offended the very morals and values that we hold dear. If we do not wake up we will be like Shelly’s character immortalized in Ozymandias. We will be nothing more than “two vast and trunkless legs of stone standing in the desert… half sunk, a shattered visage… and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command”.