EULOGY- Gaotlhaetse Utlwang Sankoloba Matlhabaphiri

Botswana’s leadership across the political spectrum remember a true patriot.

There is a guy who comes on BTV a bit. I have seen him once. He tells the story of the BaTawana and the Bagammangwato split in the 1700s. He has his own angle, but I will suggest it is an acquired angle because in as much as he talks in an old and croaky voice, I know he was not as yet born in the 1700s. I knew everybody back then, but him I did not know. Bagammangwato are revisionists. They tell stories with their own twists, and therein lies the value of a GUS.
Ramadeluka Seretse would want to tell stories and as my senior there was not much manoeuvring for me. Tea-break at Parliament had this serobe that you only find at the corner shop in Village and we all would dash to take our fill before it ran out and GUS found the argument on. Ndelu would by now have run away with his revised version but someone had to tell it like what I had read, and GUS did. He did it with a certain crispness that only those who had the opportunity of imbibing his presence can relate to. He told it and made it FACT. GUS was crispy.
GUS tried to prevent the formation of BMD, but by then the hymen had broke. A lot of us could not take the pain. Shem GUS tried. I do not know if GUS knew it, but a lot of us held him in awe. I was sold to Domkrag by a certain picture of Kwelagobe in step with GUS while they were waiting on the arrival of President Festus Mogae at a Sebele BDP function. It must have been in the early 90s. In that picture there is Botsalo Ntuane on-a cellphone trying to locate the nation’s President. That picture said “golo kwa go monate” so I joined. GUS was BDP and he loved it, it explains the pain he felt when some us tried to explain that we could not take it anymore. GUS is now late, I do not know where Botsalo is but DK must be hurting.
Eish life… But how do you eulogise GUS? Let me tell you how to do it.
Do not let anybody ram inferiority into you. You may not be as crispy as GUS because some guys can make an orchestra sing. I am not one such. Some guys can make the BDP look like your first love. I am not one such. Kana GUS could describe the leading voices that set the tone before the BaTawana left for the Kgwebe Hills better than this guy I am told is still appearing on BTV. But I still would want you to help me, how do you eulogise GUS?
Owai, a omongwe le omongwe a itlhobogele…
Kgosi Tawana

It was sad to hear about the passing on of GUS Matlhabaphiri. When I was a young organiser for the BNF during high school days, GUS was a well known BDP operative. When I got to university, I had the pleasure of assisting with Mike Dingake campaign for Gaborone Central in 1994. His opponent was GUS Matlhabaphiri. I attended all the rallies that he addressed around UB to help with counter strategies for our campaign. I used to marvel at his energy and enthusiasm for a campaign that seemed far beyond the grasp of the BDP. He was genuinely passionate about politics.
In 2004 when I was elected to parliament, we struck a good rapport. He is my father’s generation but we related like school buddies. During the PAC meetings we normally sat next to each other and he used to orientate me on the protocols of the meeting. Yes, he lectured me on a lot of issues normally shared by close friends. Our different political homes were not a factor in our relationship.
I considered GUS to have been a true politician, totally convicted to politics. He believed totally in the BDP and truly saw it as a vehicle that could transform Batswana’s lives. He was the total opposite of today’s tender politicians who see politics as an opportunity for enrichment.
I did not share his political values, but I maintain that our politics has lost a man of value with the passing of GUS. Rest in eternal peace GUS.
Dumelang Saleshando
I am saddened by GUS Matlhabaphiri’s passing, my heartfelt condolences to his family and all who were close to him.
In 1987 as Botswana High Commissioner in London he was kind enough to accommodate me at the embassy when I was in London to launch one of my books. He was aware then that I was in the opposition because His Honour VP P. Mmusi had informed him I had spurned his overtures to align with the red brigade! In 1994 he and I stood at opposite poles for the new Gaborone Constituency. When we met at Selemela ward on polling day, he noticed I was sealing the boxes before they were taken to the counting station. We had been okayed to do that by Supervisor Mmono. GUS didn’t know and curiously asked what I was doing that for? “To stop you cheating” I told him. He was amused and laughed heartily, me joining him.
Though results were not in his favour our cordial relations were unaffected and we continued referring to each other as swaer (brother-in-law) because my wife is Mokwena! Both of us unspeakably agreed we were Batswana, immune from division induced by political affiliation. GUS was my man! I wish all Batswana were like GUS not antagonised by politics.
Combative views, honestly held, will make us a great nation. GUS gone, we are poorer! MHSRIP!
Michael Dingake