Mmaagwe Molly le Rraagwe Molly: Firstborn Societal shame?

It is a norm in Botswana, atleast in the Kanye village, where I was born and nurtured for about 20 years, to call parents by their firstborn child. For example, in my parents case my mother, Gaontebale, is simply known as Mmaagwe Molly and my late father, Lekgoanyana, was simply called Rraagwe Molly, or the mother and father to Molly, their first born child, respectively.
At the same time, I have come to realise that a significant number of firstborns are explicitly excluded from this honour: cousins, friends, and relatives. Further investigations reveal that these firstborn children are in most cases not biological children of their mother’s husbands, or “stepfathers”. And I am told they were often potrayed as a burden to the husband. And perhaps manifested by the self-explanatory tag of “Letlaleanya”, or the one that arrives (to the ‘new husband’s) already breastfed. In other words, stepchild. In most cases, the hounour of the firstborn naming is relegated to the second born, the biological child to both parents. 
For me, with considerations of yesterday’s (and today’s) context: I believe we owe an apology to the disrespected, marginalised and victimised firstborns who have been burdened with their parents “load”, whatever the reasons for their separation. 
To the unrecognized firstborns: we see you, we honour you, and we will fight with you. Forgive us, please. 

I miss Skeem

I miss Skeem,
He was simply known as Skeem. In 2004, Skeem would pick us up every morning from Elmfield Avenue Apartments, all the way to the Midrand Graduate Institute, for the day’s lectures, about 15 minutes drive. He would be driving a white, perhaps red Toyota Venture; the model is commonly used as a taxi in South Africa, second to the famed Siyaya combi, atleast in Midrand, at that time. 
 Our relationship with Skeem was only inside the taxi. Inside the Venture, there were always animated conversations: football debates, admiring ladies, and jokes, together with Skeem. Skeem was a very cheerful man. 

 In 2005, one hot Saturday evening, Skeem drove us to Soweto, just outside Midrand. About 45 minutes later, we arrived at the not so crowded bar, part club, recommended by Skeem. Skeem pointed out that he lived only a few houses from the bar.  We pulled up a couple of stools and ordered 1 coke and 2 Black Label beers. Inside the bar, Skeem was as cheerful as inside the Venture. Although at times he would keep quiet and stare at the red, white and black beer label. 

 Later on, the sleepy Skeem ‘flew’ us back to Midrand.

 I miss Skeem.

 
 

Race: the social ignored? 

Why the silence on race?
One of my best lecturers this semester (forget semester, in my life) was entitled, “Race: the social ignored?” Overall, it was questioning why gender, disability, for example, has been ‘mainstreamed’ in development, and not race. 
“Does the concept of race matter in understanding development?”

The baton

24, May 2017, Bath University, Bath, England.

 The last time I was a student in Botswana, my home country, was in 1999 when I was a Form 5 pupil. My siblings, Molly le Nkgotla, went on to study at the University of Botswana: a black lecturer, professor, and the like are the norm to them.

 On the other hand, I went to Midrand Graduate Institute, in South Africa. From the time of my life at MGI, I only had 1, I repeat, 1 black lecturer. At the Robert Gordon University, in Scotland, there were a couple of black lecturers, but I only had 1 black guest lecturer in my memorable year at RGU. Of course, a special shoutout to the great Dr Ahmed Beloucif, “Arab”, from Algeria, my Referee.

 Dr Nelson Oppong, black African, from Ghana, an Oxford graduate (I hear they call themselves Oxonians), is my lecturer for the Natural Resources and Sustainability module. To see him in the university corridors, cafeterias, and classes: is an inspiration, a reassurance and perhaps, a validation to black boys, such as myself.

Therefore, what I can only hope to achieve in this life, is for me to pass the baton – that Nelson handed to me – to other black boys. 

Bucket list: Arsenal vs Manchester United

Arsenal vs. Manchester United: 

 This has been on my “bucket list” for a very long time. If I’m to say a date, since that Tuesday 13 April 1999, Villa Park, when Ryan Giggs took on the entire Arsenal defence, before scoring from a tight angle. I watched that game alone, at home; it was late into the night when the Welshman scored. Nkgotla, my brother, had long gone to sleep. In jubilation, I dialled my friend Meki’s house. “Meki is sleeping!” His mother declared. 

 I was only able to release the excitement the following day, when I met Meki in class.

 Today, 7 May 2017, I’m wearing the Arsenal Polo Shirt, that I used to hate so much. I’m among the Gunners, and loudly shouting: “Come on Arsenal!” 

 Life.

The old man with a stick

Hesitantly approaching the Tesco busy Customer Assistant: “What date is it?”
“I think 17th”, looking at his watch, 18th, replied the shelf stocking, perhaps, Indian young man.
“Thank you”, replied the white Englishman.
Walking towards him I said: I wonder how many you’ve seen? The days.
“Ohh! I’m 91”
25 or 26? I asked. 
“26.”
Me: My grandmother is 25.
“Ohh she is doing well!” He said
Ohh you too, very well, I reassured the smiling old man.
Him: “I lost my wife 7 years ago. It was on Christmas Day.It was her birthday. We were married for 65 years, She was 86…
Where are you from?”
Me: Botswana
Him: “Ohh I was in Egypt for 2.5 years. In the army… Everybody had to enlist those days. Whoever was fit, in their eyes (half smiling)….
Ohhkay, you have a good day, nice talking to you.”