Happy 50th Independence Botswana!

Tshepiso Babusi

It is as if even the weather is in tune with our festivities, the way it waited for mid-September to usher in enough wind for our flags to dance so beautifully high up our city streets lights. I for one do not take lightly the fact that they are up now; the power outages we experienced in the last few years have certainly elevated my appreciation for this basic need. If village festivities are anything like I remember, then they have painted rocks in blue, black and white, eagerly waiting to head to the main Kgotla for celebrations with their Dikgosi.
A tradition I hope does not escape us in the midst of modernization. The anticipated celebration of our country’s 50th Independence, branded BOT50 shows us that Batswana are not just capable of being collectively furious about issues of national concern, remember the #IshallNotForget Campaign? But can also be united and excited about a course with such ferocious patriotism.
BOT50 has the essence of a thirtieth birthday that has come way too soon. You are happy the day is here, but you cannot help but feel you could have accomplished a lot more than the status quo. It would have been great for instance to have the pillars of Vision 2016 upheld, but here we are looking at yet another, Vision 2036. It does however, show that we do not discourage easily when it comes to building this nation. Global Peace Index 2016 places Botswana at number one on an article titled “The 10 countries completely free from conflict”. An honor no one should take lightly, yet I cannot help but feel that we can do better, that we should do better. This by no means takes away from the fact that we have come a long way, from being “Bechuanaland Protectorate” to standing in our two feet, divided in some instances but standing tall nonetheless.
BOT50 trends in our timelines on the social media side. The rate at which cactus trees and dogs are being painted blue black and white has the masses worried that soon it is them that will get painted. It has been rather comical and has kept BOT50 on the tip of our tongues as we continue to count down to September 30. Amid selfies of friends in our national colors on Facebook, a blogger by the name of Orsen (Jay Nathan Norbet Mathumo) stands out for me by uploading a series of black and white photographs leaving only national colors colored. He uploads them leading to independence day, captioning a link to his blog (ITSNESRO.COM) where he writes historical facts about Botswana that are worth the read. This depicts the diversity of how each individual chooses to creatively celebrate Botswana. I commend all promoting events that have set social media ablaze. Lucara BOT50 Independence marathon that was set for the 24th September took advantage of the fitness frenzy Batswana are in, and was according to my observation among the highly anticipated BOT5O events.
It would not be Batswana we are talking about if we did not have complaints; they have been many and have ranged from why a South-African choreographer was hired for the Independence celebration to “we don’t have enough blue clothing to wear for the month of September”. This is Botswana, we are opinionated, democratic, and social media has given a window into how diverse and strong the opinions of Batswana are. There has been plenty happening this month that continues to reveal who we are and what we stand for as a nation. The reaction of our people to Pastor Anderson’s very controversial point of views on sin show that we clutch our pearls at any form of bigotry and take it as far as deportation. As if it was not enough that he came all the way from the US to pollute our airwaves, the man wore a BOT50 T-shirt while doing this, an irony that did not escape many.
When you take a step back and observe the mood of a Motswana, that lady on the side of the road selling fruits in her BOT50 T-shirt, the guitarist who plays for coins in the city streets plays and sings “Botswana Pele” with intensity, our public servants and public sector employees blend beautifully in their different rendition of blue black and white. You will truly feel the heart of this nation, that above anything, we are united in the pride we have for this nation. The country that raised us. The country we grow with. Happy 50th Independence to Botswana.