There is a time in life when ‘man’has to pause and look back; to ponder his life journey. A time when a man has to bow down, fervently pray, honour and thank God—the creator—for his/her existence. Essentially that day is the day when one set his/her foot on this earth. A birthday is a special time to introspect, reappraise and interrogate one’s track path and record. As I grow today, I vividly remember some of the previous highlights on this born day, the 26th Jan. History records that once upon a time young men and a lady were locked into a filthy and stinky Central Police Station (CPS) cell over advancing the people’s course of struggle. Among them was a man who hailed from Gambule Village, a stringently remote area in North East. It was horrifying but an eye opener. There came a life saviour, Duma Boko who walked into the CPS; mad and furious. He was ‘mad’ to the extent that he demanded that an agent case be convened immediately at midnight (around 12pm—1am) mainly because the authorities had reneged on an agreement he had made earlier with them to free us. He threatened to also open a case of an unlawful detention and also challenge the filthy and inhumane cell conditions. It smelt, smelt and smelt horrendously. We suffocated. Mmmhhhh!!
However, we spent the night in this ‘new house’—deeply dark without a single light whatsoever, not even a window for ventilation. The appointed standby Justice Newman couldn't hear the case because of the inadequacy of some supporting staff. When the golden beams of the sun flooded the earth the following morning I couldn't believe what my eyes ‘told’ me. Allow me to say it, as it was. I was surrounded by human faeces; some watery, some solid—different in colour. I watched ghastly in shock, my mouth agape in horror. Like I said we suffocated as we breathe air stank of the mentioned human stools and urination of all kinds and form deposited around the floor, our bed by then just besides our heads. These conditions, these persecutions, these prosecutions, these suspensions, these expulsions I have been perpetually subjected to are simply, a motivation and inspiration to advance more; to begin to collect myself and my arsenals to start the war: real war!Something that pained but, simultaneously, soothed my heart was to realize that the time of setting of this drama was my birthday, and I just turned 23 years. Still struck by and stuck in perturbation, I had completely no idea that it was my born day, until cakes flooded CPS when students and other activists chanted ‘we want them out, they are our heroes’.
This man called Boko fervently fought for me and others when the road was thorny and darkish. He put on his gown and fiercely represented me in court free of charge. He later told my mother and the large audience housed under the elegant tent in my graduation party (Tlokweng 24th November 2012) that, as a warrior I must endure and persevere. He said in substance and effect: “There is history to those events of persecutions of extremely gifted warriors. Vladmir Lenin was jailed; he wrote his exams from prison but trounced them with a Distinction. Here exists a man called Richard, who wrote his exams from cells, suspensions and expulsions but got a Merit.” With his Black-American English accent he said: “Comrade you are walking on the path of previous giants, fear nothing”. That was too emotional. President Boko proceeded to tell my mother, with his usual dramatic gestures, eye contacts and facial expressions (usually seen and witnessed in actors in theatre)that: “Yo ngwana o na le pitso, o na le thomo e a tshwanetseng go e diragatsa mo botshelong. Fa a ka fapoga thumo ya gagwe, a ya kwa a sa romiwang teng o tla metswa ke leruarua jaaka monna wa Baebele, mme le mo kgwele kwa a tshwanetseng a ya teng”. These words, these words, these words are permanently scripted in my heart, etched in my mind, embedded in my soul and echoing in my ears. Equally important are the words of my own mother, Thembi Richard in my book launch 2014 when she said: “Richard is my son, but he does not belong to me; he belongs to the people”
A birthday to me presents a platform to communicate to my inner soul, inner being. It speaks to me the way President Boko spoke to me: ‘you have a mission to accomplish’. I have been commissioned to fight in the corner of the people; to stand by and with them for the purpose of social uplift and emancipation. I am fully persuaded by ‘my birthday’ never to relent.I have made that commitment to my convictions and passion. A birthday speaks to me; to reconcile my deeds with my mission and vision.“Motho ke motho ka batho”, ga bua Matlhogoputswa. You groomed me; whether directly and/or indirectly—you moulded me into the creature that I am today. You made me. Thank you, good people for making me. To me a birthday reminds me that: time for sacrifice have come, and must begin in earnest. A birthday to me is a humble but solemn message that: I must give more of myself to the people than take more from them. Thank you for your happy birthday messages that stand at hundreds.
As a message I usher on this day of 26th Jan 2015 as my birthday allow me to quote from my book: “While many cannot see Botswana's imperilled future that lie ahead, I myself have that vision. While others see the danger that is looming, but cowardly have no courage to speak out, I myself, have that overwhelming courage to speak out, without fear of the consequences. While many are gripped in fear of the regime's sponsored terror on its people, myself, will not allow fear to silence me. It is a choice I have made. It is a route I have chosen to take. My passionate conviction, my animate instincts and my firm political creed do not permit me to play 'dumb ‘when I foresee that the society's future lies on the brink; when I foresee that the future of my society precariously lie on the edge of a tall bridge. No matter my station in life; no matter how small my corner might be, nothing shall stop me from raising my flag to warn and to alert Batswana of the impending danger: a danger of decay in democratic values and the erosion of our civil liberties. I know this may not seat well with the ruling elites or rather the perpetrators of the criminal events discussed herein. It is a risk I am prepared to face; and a pain I am prepared to endure. By thunder, by fire, and by force, this country must be saved from blood-craving leaders whose aim is to batter and silence everyone. Batswana deserve salvation before the nation is soaked in its blood.
We should not despair but believe. We should not only believe but have faith. We should not only talk but walk the talk! We cannot speak in silence, only God does! Therefore, we must act and act now.” Shalom!!!
Khumoekae Motsabakedi Richard