Sir Seretse Khama true unifier
29 Jun 2023
Ninety-one year old Mr Ditira Gaoetswe of Tsabong is one of the few remaining foot soldiers who worked to prepare Batswana for independence. He reminiscences about the pre-independence preparatory events like they happened yesterday and speaks fondly of his special assignment from Sir Seretse Khama.
Right up to the dawn of the new era, he was part of a team that traversed the countryside at the suggestion of Sir Seretse to explain the concept of independence to a population raised under British protection.
Aged just 30 at the time, Mr Gaoetswe recalls the long and difficult trips in a Bedford truck through the sandy roads of the Kgalagadi District to address Batswana in kgotla meetings. At each meeting, they would read out detailed pieces of writing on what independence meant as well as explain the new political leadership roles of president, vice president, MP and councillors.
Mr Gaoetswe worked with dikgosi to conduct kgotla meetings while school head teachers served as the meetings’ secretaries.
“We started spreading the message about independence by reading writings from Sir Seretse Khama at the kgotla meetings which explained in broad terms what independence meant until we finally gained independence in 1966,” he said.
Satisfied that he had played his part to help pave the way to a new dispensation, Mr Gaoetswe was elated to finally witness the jubilant independence celebrations on September 30, 1966.
His recollection of Sir Seretse is of a visionary leader whose unique character and leadership style inspired people to have hope for the future. He posits that while the country was poor, and independence came amid a devastating drought, it took Sir Seretse’s inspirational leadership to make the nation believe they could build a successful country. Among the many accolades, Mr Gaoetswe credits Sir Seretse with having been a unifier who managed to build a united and peaceful nation out of the different ethnic and race groups that inhabit different parts of the country.
The souvenirs that adorn his home speak volumes about the nonagenarian’s regard for Botswana’s first president. Prominently displayed in his living room is a montage of multiple black and white photographs of Sir Seretse with his family. ENDS
Source : BOPA
Author : Calviniah Kgautlhe
Location : TSABONG
Event : INTERVIEW
Date : 29 Jun 2023