Good bye my friend, good bye my leader

SHARE   |   Sunday, 10 August 2014   |   By Ndaba Gaolatlhe
Boko, Ndaba, and the late Motswaledi Boko, Ndaba, and the late Motswaledi PRESSPHOTO

For all the beautiful words he used, in Setswana and English.And despite the use of the most hidden metaphors or his art of presentation. Even he, Motswaledi, on this day, could not have adequately captured the full extent of the towering life he led. He could not have fully shown the glow of his exemplary life. His humility would never have been willing to dig the chapters of the bible. The only place where men like him are found.He would have refused to be likened to Daniel or Moses.That’s exactly the man he was, a man of biblical proportions.

This was Gomolemo the courageous, this was Sir G the visionary, this was Gomolemo the magnificent servant of the people.

Yet it was not the grand visions he possessed or espoused that made him great. Nor was it his eloquence or his musical genius. It was the simple things with everyone he met, the small gestures, the humor, the laughters, the handshakes, the phone calls and the hugs that revealed the gift he was.

How many men and women are able to live with us, among us, in this way, treating us as equals, believing in their equality with us, when in fact, something deep in them sets them apart.

“Ina jame ke Gomolemo, sehane ke Motswaledi, ke tsalwa ko Serowe, mme ka maswabi ke kgaeletse mo Gaborone”

And true to his humility and despite that he was my president. Regardless that he was the senior brother, irrespective of his more valuable traits. He allowed us to live like equals, we did everything together. Never, on our long has anything, or anybody or any issue come in-between, not once. For everything we faced we faced as a team. He consulted on every decision, sought a view even on the most sensitive. I remember our experiences and how we subsequently left the BDP.I remember the experiences when we decided that Gideon Boko, not him, must lead the Umbrella. This was Gomolemo the courageous, this was Sir G the visionary, this was Gomolemo the magnificent servant of the people.

Although he was a people’s man living among the people and for the people. He was a man who reserved a special place in his heart for his family, loved his father, we called him “Tax”. Now this man is a walking dictionary of the Setswana language. We made fun of him often, in a fond way. Tax is a man of prayer, long prayers, and is not the type of man you want to visit if you are in a hurry. Tax is the human form of strength and courage. There is no need to wonder where and how Gomolemo became a lion-tamer. His brother, Gape, is a walking museum of his brother, in both physical disposition, in his language and Botho. He too was a subject of our jokes. Many years ago, on our way to the north, we filled our petrol at the BP station in Palapye. There was a young lady there who used to help us – Malebogo – I recall. He would say to me “kana nna le wena ha ne re batho jaaka batho bangwe, re sa taboge le “struggle”, batho ba teng, motho o ka gorosa segametse”.

Then within a year or so of our conversation, he wakes me early in the morning. “Rraetsho ke go boleletse gore ha re batho ba sepe. O gopola kgarejwana wa tsala ya rona ko Palapye.  Ke bua jaana lekolwane le Gape le re le a mo tsaya.  Tota nte ke re Gape o setse a mo tsere (mo gongwe mo ke tsamaiso hela).  Go raya gore rona re tla itshalela ka struggle hela”

How he loved his son Mozart – I am not sure if Mozart knows, that this is the name I used to refer  his father by, long before he was born, and I have to thank you for putting me as part of your video game football team. This was Gomolemo the courageous, this was Sir G the visionary, this was Gomolemo the magnificent servant of the people. He was no slave to western and foreign cultures. His culture, a medley of local cultures and languages, distinguished his poise. Truly an African, authentically the African. The type of African that Mbeki sees when he says. “I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the ever-changing seasons that define the face of our native land”. But this wealth in African heritage did not mean he was oblivious to the world beyond the oceans. He wrote songs in Latin, and conducted mass choirs in Latin America. His sense of dress, meticulous, stately and sometimes colourful is what many of you will remember. He complained about my dress code, particularly my reluctance to wear orange jackets. My two most colourful jackets, orange and cheque ones, came from him on the day of my launch at Bonnington South. He would remind me of lecture Rev Dibeela gave the two of us some time ago. “O seka wa lebala moruti a re re apere jaaka batho baba ka tlisang diphetego, gongwe le gongwe ko re yang teng”. This was Gomolemo the courageous, this was Sir G the visionary, this was Gomolemo the magnificent servant of the people. His generosity of heart, kindness and capacity to forgive were legendary. He had no personal hatred for anyone. Gomolemo hated no one one, he despised no one, he forgave everyone, even those that despised him. There were only two occasions when I thought he was visibly upset. And on both occasions, it was because someone had comprised the truth. On both occasions I had spoken to him at midnight about it, to cool him down.

He would say to me “Ke shakgetse tota.  Tota ha o ne o seyo hale ke kabo ke shakgetse le go heta.  Mme kana ke a itse gore o shakgetse le wena, pharologanyo ya rona hela ke gore nna ke dirisa diele di le dintsinyana”. Although many of our people were prepared and willing to serve him. Gomolemo did not allow them; instead he offered himself as their servant. In the churches, among the choirs, in funerals, at weddings, at seminars, festivals, football occasions, political launches, international conventions, special national projects he was always the servant in chief.

*Gaolatlhe is the Vice President of the Botswana Movement for Democracy and was a close friend of Motswaledi.