Having spent the majority of his schooling life boarding in hostels far away from his family, Kebadiretse Ntsogotho knows only too well the pain of not having a school in one’s village.
Now at the helm of the North West District Council, Chairman Ntsogotho has put education among his top priorities in the District Development Plan.
In this week’s interview with FRANCINAH BAAITSE-MMANA, the 40-year-old, who was chosen for the top post back in December, details his experiences and outlines his plans for the future.
Q. Congratulations on your new post. How does it feel?
A. It is an achievement for me because there has never been a Council Chairman in this district from Khwai before.
Likewise, there has never been a Mosarwa [tribe] Council Chairman in the district before.
I am the first Mosarwa to hold this fort and I do appreciate the respect and recognition extended to me by Khwai residents and the entire council.
Q. What drives your zeal to push for education development, especially the construction of satellite schools in settlements across the district?
A. I grew up in Khwai but I spent most of my school days away from home.
I was in boarding schools because there is no school in Khwai, even to date.
I was separated from my parents, siblings and relatives most of the time and I do not wish for the coming generation to go through that.
Q. How did you cope with life in the hostels?
A. It was challenging! At the time there were no mobile phones and I only got to talk to my family on school holidays.
I missed them a lot and again there was a lot of bullying that I had to deal with from other pupils.
I had to mature fast and learn to do things on my own, wash my clothes and clean up without assistance.
The best medicine for bullying was to ignore those who tormented us because we were very far from home and with nobody to take our side in times of trouble.
We stayed the entire term in school without meeting our parents or relatives so we had to learn to survive on our own.
That must have been hard!
The system is very bad and since we have gone through it we know how hard it is.
You get homesick, you miss your siblings, parents, homemade food, the village life.
That is the reason I am pushing very hard to ensure that satellite schools are put up in all settlements which have no schools as a matter of urgency.
All children deserve to stay with their parents and I will be happy to see all Khwai children back from hostels and schooling in their village.
It will make me happy to see Boro children no longer having to walk the 18 kilometres distance to school.
There are many settlements in our District which are in dire need for schools.
Ditshiping, for instance, has no school, but a pre-school was donated to the settlement.
The plan is to develop that pre-school to include lower primary classes so that at least Standard 1 and 2 pupils can study in their village.
Q. In your experience, how does hostel life affect academics?
A. It affects academics because when you are in class and missing home, you cannot concentrate.
It torments children emotionally as well. Besides, every child needs parental guidance unlike where children are taken to hostels where there is a mix of culture and practices from different backgrounds.
For example, some children are allowed to engage in love relationships and sex at an early age whilst some are taught that doing so is bad.
This mix at a tender age creates confusion and results in bad behaviour from some children.
Q. Did you endure some bad experience at the hostels?
A. I started school in hostels and we were bullied a lot, especially by day-schoolers.
As they stayed closer to their families and homes we could not retaliate for fear of being counter-attacked by their older siblings and parents!
Q. Back to the present – what are your immediate plans for the district’s children?
A. There is a school in Khwai and we are hopeful it will open very soon once the teacher’s quarters are completed.
We will introduce Standard 1 and 2 classes in Ditshiping and Boro.
There is a school in Jao that has to be opened as a matter of urgency.
Q. Admirable projects but how do you intend to achieve all this?
A. Through the Constituency Development Fund we will address some of these issues.
We are working together with Members of Parliament to ensure this happens.
Government is launching a knowledge-based economy and it is important that this is done right from grassroots level by ensuring that it (government) educates all generations.
The people have to be educated in every step and level of education so that as the government preaches a ‘knowledge-base’, it has made the rightful commitment and investment in that regard and carries everyone along.
Q. Growing up, what did you dream of becoming? Was it always your ambition to venture into politics?
A. No, I wanted to be a medical doctor, that was my dream.
But as we know dreams change with time.
And again, because of educational challenges, options change.
Education needs to be nurtured from early ages.
Of course I have gone as far as university level, though it was long distance, but I have gone that far.
What I want to point out here is I may have achieved more had I been staying with my parents during my school days.
Q. As a Khwai native, which is one of the district’s more remote areas, your rise to Council Chairman is quite the achievement. Is the village treating you as a celebrity?
A. Of course they are proud of my achievement, more especially that we are from a so-called ‘minority tribe’.
But when I am in the village there is nothing special about me – I am a child just like any other child in the village.
Nothing has changed. We interact the same way we were before I was elected to the council.
Q. What other plans do you have for the district?
A. A lot. I wish to see Maun become the picture of a real resort town.
Maun needs a serious facelift.
Look at the likes of Durban, Windhoek, Cape Town and others, their planning was well thought out.
We can, for instance, improve the main street which runs from the bus rank through the Old Mall past the New Mall.
I want to see Maun have at least one big fruit and vegetable market, vendors selling in well-planned-for structures.
We need clean streets. Also, the roads in the district are very poor.
Like I said, a lot needs to be done!
Q. Is this the reason you refused to have a Chairman’s Ball in December?
A. The Chairman’s Ball is an annual event where we meet as councillors, eat and drink. But ultimately, in the end it does not benefit our constituents in any way.
It has no impact on the lives of the people.
There is a lot that can be done with that budget. For instance, we have a new school in Sexaxa which is in need of teaching materials.
The money can be channelled to that immediate need or alternatively help push the two-teacher school project in Boro.
Q. So did the money saved from cancelling the Ball contribute to some of the developments you have just stated?
A. We used the money to sponsor a workshop for councillors.
The workshop was to teach councillors on the council policies among others social services and by-laws.
This was because we have reaslied that a lot of time is wasted when some councillors debate on matters they lack understanding on.
We are now looking forward to a house full of informed councillors who will table motions to challenge policies which they feel need to be changed, amended or cancelled.
This was done within the Chairman’s Ball budget.
Q. Moving away from the council, are you a family man? Do you have children?
A. Yes I am married to Grace Ntsogotho and we have no children.
Q. How do you spend your free time?
A. My schedule is very busy. Besides being a Council Chairman, I do run my small businesses on the side.
So when I am not doing council work I am catching up on the businesses.
Q. And finally, Thank God It’s Friday – what are you up to this weekend?
A. I am going camping with some of my friends, councillors.
A superstar explodes
Born Atlasaone Molemogi, ATI is one of the country’s most gifted singer-songwriters, blessed with a creativity and energy few can match when it comes to live shows.
Sadly, away from the music, the rapper’s turbulent personal life has been slightly less successful.
While he takes conspiracy theories around the dark world to a whole new level, ATI has been fighting demons of his own.
The ‘Khiring Khorong’ hit-maker is now a self-proclaimed recovering drug addict having checked himself into rehab in late 2018.
This week, the rapper invited Voice Entertainment’s SHARON MATHALA to his suburban home in Gaborone to speak about the latest controversies surrounding his career.
The Voice team arrive to find the flamboyant artist, complete with exfoliating face mask, cleaning his room.
Pleasantries are exchanged and the singer seems in high spirits.
Before the interview begins, however, Deputy Sheriffs and a lawyer turn up to slap ATI with summons.
He is in debt but is optimistic he will come back stronger.
In an emotional roller-coaster of an interview, ATI talks about sexual relations, drug abuse and the bitter fall out with his former manager that have led to recent rape allegations.
Q. Thank you for inviting us into your home, how have you been?
I have been good. I have been blessed.
Q. Why did you decide to speak out against your manager? Where you not afraid this would tarnish your brand?
Even more important is protecting the victims who are derailed into thinking that what they are told is A when it is actually B.
So this is more about the victims not me.
Q. But all of this allegations happened under your nose? Did you not notice anything?
I am very observant but with my manager it was like there was an energetic block.
He controlled everything around me.
Even with the people that I interacted with.
He understood my weakness and he played around that.
Q. Oh! What exactly do you mean by ‘he played around your weaknesses’?
I am one open person, I am an open book.
He knew how to play around that because I vested so much power into him.
All my relationships, he went behind my back and intimidated the people.
He had a hold on a lot of people I have tried to get into a relationship with.
Q. What exactly do you mean?
I will tell you something, I have never been in a relationship.
I have tried.
I have even tried to get into a relationship with money.
I did not understand the culture of a relationship and when I did my manager got in the way because you know people are not comfortable about their sexuality.
I was dealing with abandonment issues.
I was too clingy with who I am trying to love that they don’t even have time to love me back.
My manager intimidated my partners about their sexuality.
This had been going on for too long until I decided that I should go to rehab.
Q. So you checked yourself into rehab, you were not talked into it by family?
Yes. I checked myself into rehab because nobody cared about me.
I looked at myself as worthless.
My level of self-esteem and confidence was so derailed to a point whereby I did not want to be seen.
It got so bad towards the end of last year.
I will tell you something, he painted a picture of a chaotic character.
Q. But trouble seems to follow you. Do you know this?
Yes. Yes I do.
Most of the time it’s ‘purpose learnt’ it is not poor decision making.
Most of my chaos is orchestrated by people around me.
Even before the drugs I know they planned all of the bad things against me.
A lot of things have happened and were meant to happen to me.
Q. What do you mean?
The drug industry in Botswana is (….breathes heavily) I am lucky to be alive. I am lucky to still be sane.
Q. When did the drugs start?
Q. What made you dependent on drugs?
I was not dependent on drugs.
I tried to escape the reality of pain.
The painful part was coming face to face with drastic measures afterwards.
I had to cut the cord with everyone I know and evaluate the relationships that surrounded me, from work to love relationships.
When I did this, I found out that most of my relationships were orchestrated with malice by the one person I gave enough power to destroy me.
Q. Please elaborate further and make it clearer for me, what do you mean by this?
Circumstances always turned around to make me seem crazy.
I started questioning my reality and during this time I did not want to talk to nobody.
I was literally down on my knees and I look back now and say I am lucky to be alive.
Q. Do you think the drugs played a big part in your problems?
I don’t blame anything or anyone.
I just believe things happened the way they were supposed to.
I will tell you I am the best version of myself right now.
If happiness was to be gauged from 1 to 10, I am at a 5.
Q. Have you ever been at 10?
No. I have never been on a 10 but it is my first time at 5, that I will tell you!
Q. What drug was it?
I would not want to say.
I will tell you though that it was a drug that made me calm. Is it important to know?
Q. Why were you missing shows?
I was not well.
I was mentally unstable.
Wa nkutlwa gore ka reng? (do you understand what I am saying?) Mental health is very important.
When they found out that I was on to what they were doing with all these rapes, they literally tried to make me go crazy!
Q. Did they buy the drugs for you?
No! I bought the drugs for myself.
I mean I was addicted, I still am but I am recovering, you know what I am saying.
I am recovering from a mental problem.
Q. But your fans did not know all of this.
They were screaming your name and you did not come.
That is the thing, that is what I am telling you that [screaming fans] it is just not enough.
I was losing my mind.
I mean if I missed a show because I broke my leg it would be easier to understand, right?
What would you rather lose, your mind or your leg? The mind is everything.
Q. Are you in debt?
I am still trying to pay off all that I owe especially from last year when there was a lot of chaos.
Just right now you saw that I got a summons but I don’t live life by sulking.
I take it with grace and I am going to move through this.
Q. If you could undo one thing, what would it be?
I would not change a thing.
I would not because the level of understanding, what I like and what I don’t like, has heightened right now.
I understand now what it is that can advance me from point A to point B and I do understand what manipulation is.
I have lots of knowledge right now that I would have not known if I had not gone through what you say is a negative space in my life.
I mean I have tried to commit suicide but I am still here.
Q. You attempted suicide?
What I mean is that I now understand what a child who says I am going through depression means on a personal level because I have been through that.
I now understand that it is not the drugs we should be fighting, the fight is to help one accept what one does not want to accept.
It is what I call healing the inner child.
Q. Any plans of having a family of your own in the future?
Depends on what you mean by family. I don’t know what family is.
Q. Children of your own?
Q. Do you have a financial advisor?
No but I have had a financial restrainer and that was my mom.
She used to co sign with me.
Q. Have you ever been broke?
I define poverty on a spiritual level.
I have been poor with money in my pockets.
That whole time of ‘Khiring Khiring Khorong’ what I did at the time was the most suicidal thing ever.
I kept myself busy as opposed to dealing with what I was going through.
Same as taking the drugs; I always felt guilty for taking drugs because I felt bad when taking drugs and then coming to have a conversation with you.
I knew that was not me. It ate at my spirit.
But all I want to do is do good.
Q. And finally, Thank God It’s Friday, what will you be up to?
Probably in the studio making music.
*ATI’s manager refused to comment on the allegations against him.
We’re doomed: an MC’s covid-19 tears
There’s not a single confirmed case of COVID-19 in Botswana, but the effects of the CoronaVirus pandemic are already being felt by businesses and individuals alike.
The entertainment industry in particular has been the hardest hit, with night clubs and bars ordered to close, and no festivals allowed to take place in the foreseeable future.
For bar tenders, DJs, promoters and Masters of Ceremonies who’re mostly used to money coming in every weekend, this indefinite dry season spells doom.
“It is a nightmare,” said Dineo Keoreng, an upcoming MC and Events Promoter.
Known generally as MC Mis D.
The 31- year -old promoter is among the many individuals hard hit by the cancellations of events in the country and beyond borders.
“If you take a moment and think about the many bartenders, club DJs and people like myself who make money through events coordination and emceeing, you’ll realise just how much this COVID-19 has affected the industry,” she said.
“How are we going to pay rent? These bartenders have kids to feed,” she lamented.
The fast rising MC in Francistown says she had to watch helplessly as over five of her bookings came to naught.
“I was scheduled to MC the Organised Family Tour in Katimamulilo-Namibia in April, but it has since been postponed to July,” said Keoreng.
The energetic “hype lady” said she also had to postpone another event in Bulawayo slated for 18th April at BAC featuRing local DJs Cue and Cheng.
“This would have been the first ever event organised by Mis D Promotions under Keoreng Investments.
“I’m yet to set a new date for the Bulawayo gig. My worry however is that when this COVID-19 pandemic blows over, there’s going to be congestion. There’ll be too many events at the same time, and budgets would have doubled by then,” cried Keoreng.
Mis D however urged her colleagues in the industry to stand firm and use this time to refresh, hone their skills and observe all the health tips to help stop the virus from spreading.
“My focus right now is growing this brand. It’s a pity this virus struck just as I was about to venture into SADC, but I’m certain more opportunities will come,” she said.
Having emceed some of the biggest events such as Toropo Ya Muka, Goledzwa, TRL Soul Sundays, African Attire on Fleek, Orapa Spring Fest, Bulawayo Train Party and many others Mis D feels the time is right for her to take even bigger events, including corporates.
“I’ve worked with reputable companies such as Engen, Alexander Forbes, Mascom, KBL and recently with Star Lite in their promotion of their locally made Mayonnaise,” she said.
“So basically I’m the go to girl for almost everything. If you need promo-girls for your events I’ve got you covered,” added a giggly Mis D.