Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The literary work produced here under, is an extract from a 200 page manuscript being written by Andrew Onalenna Sesinyi as a sequel to my published novel, "Love On The Rocks", (Macmillan,1981). It is a sneak preview to what readers will  enjoy when the work is published in due course. It is the author's way of saying: "I'm working on it, as promised"

The title of the book- a sequel to its predecessor- is: "LOVE ON THE ROCKS TOO".

Enjoy, but kindly note that this work is not to be shared, copied or re-used in any manner whatsoever since that would constitute a serious breach of copyright/International Property Rights laws.


Chapter 1

Pule woke up to the choking heat of the dense summer night. Keeping his eyes closed, Pule stretched his arm to his side, where his wife Moradi was sleeping peacefully, seemingly unmindful of the heat. With the temperature hovering around 41 degrees Celsius, Pule felt as if their modest dwelling had been turned into a furnace. The stillness of the silent night was broken intermittently by distant sounds of traffic and dog barks. Occasionally, a cock crow, reminiscent of nights in the rural areas would supplement the sounds of the dying night. There was a reason behind the abrupt disruption of Pule’s sleep and an explanation for the pitch darkness that cloaked the night. There was yet again on this night, as it had been throughout the week, an electricity power supply cut resulting in a countrywide blackout. Pule had over the years developed reduced resistance to the sweltering heat of his country and to offset the discomfort he slept with a large electric fan on. The smooth purr of the cooling appliance rarely failed to lull Pule into a deep, restful sleep but when there was an electricity power disruption, the whirling electrical appliance would drone angrily to a halt, cutting the cool breeze and would be quickly displaced by a dearth of fresh air coupled with an almost tangible sense of soaring temperatures.
Pule was careful not to wake up his sleeping wife as out of force of habit he turned to look at the familiar ruddy face of the clock on the television stand at the foot of the bed. The electric clock was off. Pule sighed unhappily with growing discontent and indignation at the rapid deterioration of living standards in his country, the land that was hitherto regarded as a quietly efficient, fast developing, middle-income country- a far cry from the years when Botswana was classified as one of the least developed countries in the world. Knowing that his wife was a good sleeper who could only be roused from sleep by significantly loud sounds or movement, Pule once again became victim to force of habit when he reached for the television remote controller and pressed. He could hardly suppress a grunted swear word when he remembered that the television would be off, naturally. Although he usually slept well, Pule had an aversion for heat especially at night and he realised with growing irritability that moisture of perspiration was beginning to form under his armpits, on the forehead and behind the knees. With a heavy sigh, Pule rose as quietly as his elevated temperament could permit, careful that Moradi was not disturbed, and walked into their en suite bathroom. He would usually wet a towel to wipe sweat off his body before lying on the bed with the dripping towel covering his chest to reduce the heat, but Pule’s disrupted sleep was to go on an extended sabbatical when upon turning the tap he realised with dismay that there was no water coming out. A combination of lengthy electricity power cuts and water supply disruptions had been the order of the day for two years now, driving the nation into depression and despondency.
Unable to control his temper any further, Pule swore under his breath and lost his bearings trying to return to the bed in the dark. His leg struck the wooden stool in front of the dressing table and the pain made him cry out, more out of frustration than pain. He recalled irritably that his wife persistently reminded him to push back the stool into its place under the dressing table but since it was usually his favourite chair when chatting to Moradi in the bedroom, he would pull the stool out but forget to return it to its position. This was not the time to prove how right his wife was on many issues that generally caused him considerable discomforts. In his futile attempts to create as little noise as possible, Pule hastily moved to his side of the bed but the dry long towel that he was holding fell to his legs, tripping his movements. Pule fell and sprawled to the ground, and in his desperate attempts to hold on to something pulled the cloth on the dressing table on which Moradi’s makeup world rested. Bottles, tins and other items crashed to the tiled floor with a cacophony highlighted by the silence of the night.
“Honey? Pule? Are you okay?” Moradi asked sitting up on the bed, a little alarmed by the noise and the dark outline of his husband lying beside the bed.
“I’m fine, “Pule replied. ‘The power just went off.”
“And you’re trying to fix it honey?” asked Moradi with a hint of suppressed laughter in her voice.
“Of course not,” Pule replied. “I wanted a wet towel. The darned water is not there either.”
An irate Pule rose from the ground and moved to his side of the bed where he threw all decorum to the wind and crashed onto the bed making the lighter Moradi bounce a little as she reached for a cellular phone on her side. She switched the flash light on and shone the light on her distressed husband. Moradi’s suppressed laughter could not be contained any longer as Pule raised his hands to block the penetrating sharpness of the light on his face.
“Honey, this power shedding affects everyone and you don’t hear people breaking up their houses just because they have no light,” Moradi said, now laughing out loudly. “If you lie still, you won’t feel the heat that much. You worsen the heat by fighting it. Look at you! You’re like an enraged bull.”
Pule grabbed the light from his wife and with gentle vengeance shone it on her face. Moradi squealed with mirth, burying her head in her husband’s chest as she playfully tickled him to wrestle the cellular phone out of his hands.
“Rati,” Pule called, using his pet name for his wife, a shortened form of her name which in itself was short for ‘loved one.’ “You’re making me sweat even more. You can’t be playing at 1am. Give me that phone.”
He made no effort though to get back the phone from Moradi, as she slipped out of the bed and using the light walked barefoot to the kitchen. She returned with a litre of water, took the towel from the floor and went into the bathroom. When she returned, she had soaked the towel, making sure that unlike in Pule’s workmanship it was not dripping. She wrapped the towel around his chest and kissing him lightly on the cheek, said:
“Now can you sleep? We both have to go to work in the morning and you will wake up the children with this riot.”
Pule tried to pull his wife onto him but she restrained him with a firm hand laughing.
“No” she said. “You’re not going to get us all wet. Soak alone. Now, let’s sleep.”
Pule, now wide awake, knew that it would be a while before he can successfully fight off the heat to catch a nap before the alarm set to wake them up at 5 am churned its message.
“If at least I could watch tv,” said Pule morosely.
“You’re weird honey,” replied Moradi teasing. “Who wakes up to watch TV in the middle of the night?”
“I do,” Pule replied, stubbornly. “I told you. I wake up at 1am to use the bathroom but most importantly to make sure that I know I’ve been asleep. And I take delight in the thought that it’s not time yet to wake up and I’ve four more hours to sleep.”
“And the TV assures you of that?” Moradi teased further, knowing the response.
“Yes. TV shows me the awake world which isn’t asleep, making me feel special, privileged, lucky to be asleep. Plus, when I watch news at 1am I know the world is safe out there whilst asleep. It makes sense.”
“Yes honey, it makes sense alright,” replied Moradi. “But whilst you measure your sleep and monitor the world out loudly, some of us are disturbed.”
“Oh come on love,” replied Pule. “An earthquake wouldn’t wake you up.”
“Good,” replied Moradi. “We’re not earthquake country, so don’t cause any. Let’s sleep.”
Moradi switched off the cellular phone light and the room was once again plunged into darkened silence. It was not long before he heard the gentle snores of his wife and he envied her for her tenacity to withstand discomfort.
Benign evil stalking his heart, Pule deliberately turned and tossed boisterously until his wife woke up.
“I can’t sleep Rati.,” he whined, when her poised dark figure confronted her in the dark..
“What happened to your shooting of bad people that makes you sleep?” asked the awakened Moradi.
”They now shoot back and it keeps me a lot more awake”, replied Pule in a childlike demeanor.
 Moradi surprised herself with a spontaneous giggle at her husband’s illogical schemes to fight periodic insomnia. “What do you expect? You shoot you’re likely to get shot.”
“Their bullets are not supposed to hit me,” Pule continued with his imaginary game. “Usually, I become invisible and I can shoot them all down easily until there’s no more. Then I sleep.”
“What’s wrong with them, don’t they see your gun, or it becomes a ghost too?” Moradi humored her husband.
“It’s a next century laser gun honey,” replied Pule adopting the tone of a simpleton. “You can’t see it. I can jump from buildings without falling, fly and land anywhere without being seen. That’s how it used to be. When there’s no power like this, it’s too dark and I fall. Then the bad guys shoot me.”
“Pule honey,” replied Moradi. “I’m sure you’ll write a best seller one day but right now I’d like to sleep and so should you. There’s no electricity because of load shedding and you know it. So get used to a little discomfort.”
“A little discomfort,” Pule snorted. “They’re supposed to be inventing new wonderful things, not making up new vocabulary for incompetence. I need my aircon, or at least the fan. I pay for this electricity. It’s not on loan to me. You don’t see us load shedding their bills.”
“You’re right darling,” said Moradi, switching on her cellphone light again to look at her disconsolate husband. “Poor baby. Your face looks moist with sweat. It’s because you don’t lie still or try to ignore the heat. I’m affected the same way but I still sleep.”
“I’m older than you,” replied Pule.
Moradi sat up on the bed and shone the light even closer to Pule’s face before saying:
“You’re only 5 years older than me, you idiot. And that makes you 35 years old. Too early even for male menopause. How long have you been awake?”
“Two hours 45 minutes,” Pule replied promptly.
“You actually time these power cuts?” Moradi asked with mild concern. “Don’t you think you’re going over board? The entire country is affected by these power cuts, so why should you be the worst victim?”
“They said two to four hours,” replied Pule with obstinacy. “The power never comes back in two hours and most times it’s five hours. So, they lie. They’re official liars.”
“It’s people like you who suffer strokes whilst others sleep peacefully”, Moradi said. “There are two million people in this country who are affected and you choose to suffer the worst. Look if you want to spend hours endangering your health with worries and sleepless nights, join politics and be one of the official liars.”
“May be I should,” Pule replied, turning away from the sharp light and facing the wall on his side of the bed.
Moradi switched off the light and snuggled even closer to her husband, putting her tender arms around him, before replying.
“If you do, you’d have sentenced us all to abject poverty, or a life of theft and corruption. Look around. Do any of the politicians look happy? Is anyone of them clean? You’re educated, talented and good at what you’re doing, so the last thing you want to do is running around the country with a loud speaker and an audience of starving children, old people and their goats.”
Pule laughed, grinning into the darkness, for that moment tolerant of the sweltering that came with the increased heat from his wife’s proximity. It was not an uncomfortable feeling.
“Rati, you’re ever so derisive about politics. If we don’t join politics, the leadership will keep circulating among the school dropouts currently leading us. We’ve got to get involved.”
“Pule, are you serious? You sound serious about this and we never quite discussed it,” said Moradi.
“Honey, I’ve raised it before but you’re always dismissive when I raise it,” Pule defended himself.
“Derisive or dismissive?” Moradi asked more in an attempt to confuse Pule into changing the subject, than seeking a clarification.
“Both,” replied Pule without hesitation.
“And we will not be talking about it at this hour, darling,” Moradi said firmly. “We’ve enough problems of our own. Remember your three children? They’re sleeping peacefully right now, not knowing that their father is stealthily scheming to join voices crying in the wilderness.”
It was at that time that the hissing sound of a reactivating air conditioner announced the return of the electricity supply. Pule reached for the remote controller and switched on the cooling appliance whilst Moradi switched on the side light. Moving quietly with the grace of a cat, Moradi walked bare foot to the children’s rooms which were adjacent to theirs. Motsetsana and Tshetsana slept together in one room, and the toddler, Baruti in his own room. The soft lights of the children’s bedrooms were on and Moradi saw that they were sleeping peacefully.  As a health precaution, and a cost saving measure, she preferred that the children did not sleep with the air conditioning on but the oppressive heat demanded otherwise. She switched on the cooling appliances, adjusting the settings to ensure that the air circulated without direct impact on the children. She enjoyed the moments when she watched her little boy and the two girls sound asleep, without a care in the world, oblivious to the vicissitudes of life. It was during those savored moments that Moradi felt her maternal instincts sprouting in her with the effervescing power.
She walked soundlessly to the girls room first, and kissed each of them on the cheek before moving to the boy’s room and doing the same. The three year old boy seemed to sense his mother because he made a whimpering sound as if fighting to awake from the deep sleep. Moradi smiled to herself and walked back to her bedroom, where her husband had switched on the television and was watching world news .on his favorite BBC channel. In that regard, she was a long suffering spouse and had come to terms with the idiosyncrasies of her husband, which she attributed to the infantile behavior of men in general. Her mother Mmamoradi, had endured the midnight snacking habits of her father Mr Baruti until the older woman developed the secondary results of the habit and treated herself to her cookies delicacies at that odd hour. Moradi had so far resisted adopting any bad habits to match her husband’s inexplicable antics with the night.
After visiting the adjacent bathroom, Moradi marched authoritatively towards her husband, grabbed the remote controller and switched off the television. When Pule opened his mouth to protest, Moradi kissed him gently, switched off the light and purred into his ear:
“I want my husband to now make love, not war.”

Pule melted and surrendered to marital bliss.

(The manuscript development is now at an advanced stage and readers will next meet Pule and Moradi when it is published)



Andrew Onalenna Sesinyi [All copyright laws apply]

AS BOTSWANA TURNED 50 YEARS

You were barren yet bountiful Botswana when I bid for you
I baited you and dated you with all your doubts due
I took you to the floor flourishing in the open dance
Betrothed we wedded and gave each other the chance
Fifty years later our dance remains faultless
Yet its flourish declines to be doubtless.
For as in dance I move you to the floor
In doubt you dance me to the door.

You wish that I would praise your beauty and cherished charms
You feel my bait since the first date is now decked in dutiful alms
The dance we share is like motions broken by staccato passages
The bands of bonds we banded and bounded to lack messages
For you think I am lacking in feeling
Because my waltz now lacks sterling
The truth though lives that I love you
Slow speed is from the pace of loving you

Fathom the changes you’ve undergone and the loads on board
Picture the sequences of the dance and the moves you hoard
Then you will see me as the old stranger in the new environ
Whose lexicon is of fifty years and his attire a worn out gown
My graces are less resplendent where you retain elegance
Because your country dance mismatches my relevance

By Andrew Sesinyi




Tuesday, April 21, 2015

XENOPHOBIC NATIONALISM

Over a decade since burning tires wreaked havoc on human life
As South Africa chanted and fought in a ghastly but civil strife
Years ago the world sealed its lips and blocked ears with covered eyes
While the down trodden threw off the yoke of oppression and its ties
It was justified then, not now
It is unjustified when if not now

As the poem rolls and its author taps each word of truth South Africa hurts
Not because the yoke is back as a jarring joke but because of delayed outbursts
Fellow Africans who traversed the charred continent of war came seeking the spoils
They arrived, they rejoiced, they saw, they stayed and more came as Africa boils
Survivors of the yoke
Felt the agony of the poke

Prodded by the exodus and influx to recall their own decades of political asylum
Those of the yester years yoke felt it as an intrusion of overstaying friends of whilom
As Africa gave birth to more life and death, the exodus and the influx married
The terrains of South Africa filled to bursting stretches and intolerance scurried
Threat and breath colluded
The peace of the air was polluted

Out came the burning tires in threats and deeds to wreak havoc on harmless souls
The burning coals of revolt by peasants against feudal lords found hands of ghouls
South Africa hosted cries and wails, the hurrying and scurrying of humans fleeing terror
Violence reminiscent of the stolen struggle of suffering masses transformed good to horror
Those that harmed the most knew not why
Those that hurt the most knew not why

To blame the lame is to tame the brave when the bravery granary is running to depletion
Yet to fear to name the lame in blame is to revive the horrors that ought to be in deletion
The failure of leadership and the flaws of the human spirit caused simpletons to maim
The straying flock in disarray lost the stewardship of the slovenly shepherds without aim
The innocent suffered, the faultless died
The indolent led too late, the harmless died!

By Andrew Sesinyi
April 21, 2015

Thursday, May 23, 2013

TRIBUTE TO LADY OLEBILE FROM HER SERVANT




Quite and tranquil even when in disquiet
Calm though not cold, stern like twilight
Lady Olebile seemed like seams of  silence
Yet therein, beneath she bequethed resilience

To serve Lady Olebile was to surf in placid waves
She talked in tender tones even to nasty knaves
As I grew to brew my own brand of whom she addressed
I every time discovered such a cozy cover of  redress

Soft spoken her voice to us servants soothed us into service
For none left nothing undone to harm her with disservice
Every son's mother and every daughter's mother plus a friend
Soon we were good readers of her traits for which we got treats

I recall no absence of mirth when around her maternal spread
She never tried to be good but made good and that was our bread
We flew planes and drove cars, walked paths and lived lives
Never afraid of tongue lashes or cracking whips with soul hives

All I want to remember is what I recall and it all seems so calm
Her deamenour that assured and built for us nets of zero harm
As we served the lady who became Lady Olebile and remained so
I bid her good repose with regret that all these i never told her so

Goodbye Lady Olebile!
You were our lady too....

Personal tribute from your former servant: Andrew Sesinyi
May 21, 2013

Monday, March 12, 2012

Corruption Rock and Roll

Come marvel at my dance sequence
Come see me move and be witness
Be not amazed though to see no groove
Dancing emotions have no motions to move....


I am dancing in distress to buttress stress
I have poverty of desired buttons to press
Corruption cripples my motivation to move
I am seeking ways for my rhythm to improve


When I get the rhythm I shall beg steal and borrow
Or beg to borrow before I steal into my burrow
Honesty like thirst punishes the throat of the parched
With dishonesty the bad are assured of roofs thatched


My dance is now a trance as rhythm escapes my style
My motions are as right as a winter roof with missing tile
I am not chasing the winning prize of honour or integrity
Mine is a mining mode not to mend but corrupt in parity


I fear the wrath of the Lord but hear hunger pangs louder
Those that ride the groovy gravy train are colder and bolder
Honesty like brakes oppose motion and defeats progress
Forces of evil and powers of comfort are always in congress


My soul is free and my spirit pure but my vault is empty
My morals are strong but guarded by a weakened sentry
For as goodness chooses my bosom as its grand abode
Material life plays only sorry tunes that  misery forebode


My house of hope and honour has a weakened foundation
Vocal cords that sung sweet melodies are in pathetic condition
I have gained tonnes of torment and lost my tones for parody
My previous floods of confidence are themselves sheer comedy


I am the serpent that goads you to trouble and misfortune
Trust me at your peril for there is no similar print of fortune
I am a representative of tentative evil sprouting from good
I am a dispirited devil son of good masquerading with a hood.


My story is a fake furrow dug in the wetness of former dry land
As true as a fake is real for it is forked out of beings of same brand
My cry is to decry corruption for some authority to issue a decree
That the corrupt must be made to burn in the fires of their final degree.


By Andrew Onalenna Sesinyi
March 10, 2012.







Tuesday, January 24, 2012

VOICELESS....

Its the new year with the yeast that ferments it into old
The sights, sounds and scenes of similar years stay bold
Making mild the mood of merriment reminiscent of malt
For the year 2012 is brewed in cauldrons that curse salt
My hope for new is but a forlorn hope as the new brew boils
All is old in the new and so are the sinews that drive my toils


Its not the boredom that bears these notes but the dullness of same
Life rolls and rile even the meek to brew wildness even among the tame
Same is similar to insipid dishes of recipes written by wrathful writers
It dampens even the daunting doom as would a requiem to bull fighters
That stillness of time and tide is an untold tale of turpitude in decline
Its a silence of tuneless songs unsung by composers driven into decline


Ive wishes of a billion spikes pointed piercingly at the fabric of the undone
Pins and pincers in readiness to dig into the tapestry and order it redone
Yet Im stuck in the mud and puddles of ponds watered by rains of ineptitude
My vocal cords are cobbled and coddled in haphazard hides of in-exactitude 
For the voice of protest has petered out drowned by derelict dams of inertia
Expression outdone by repression my tone meanders as if in a shrub of acacia


Yes, ponder asunder all arms akimbo to wonder what this grief is a song of
Yet you would not yawn in boredom if you deciphered the pain of the pay off
Its about what I do not to do and what I do not do when I ought to do that does it
The paradox of pay and performance amid poverty of paths that bear produce
The irony of unstructured structures and disorganized guided tours of toil
Where no input mothers output and fires of the hearth have pots of amber to boil




By Andrew Sesinyi
Timeless and dateless for a purpose...







Monday, December 12, 2011

The next best thing after Christmas, is Christmas.
This is what I want to remember every Christmas...a story I listened to starry eyed and blissfully savouring it with the innocence of the child that I was. I have since lost my innocence. I am a sinner with a host of sins; but I never lost the appetite for the story, nor did I forget its message: a reminder of what Christmas is all about. It is a time to glorify the Lord; and thank him for the best present he gave us on this day and the blessings thereafter, which most times we fail to notice and believe ourselves unlucky or cursed. It is a time for goodwill. This is the story as told to me by my grandmother and the priests and as Iread it in the Bible:

Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judaea during the time when Herod was king. Soon afterwards, some men who studied the stars came from the east to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the baby born to be the king of the Jews? We saw his star when it came up in the east, and we have come to worship him." 
When King Herod heard about this, he was very upset, and so was everyone else in Jerusalem. He called together all the chief priests and the teachers of the law and asked them, "Where will the Messiah be born?"
"In the town of Bethlehem is Judaea," they answered. "For this is what the prophet wrote:
""Bethlehem in the land of Judah, you are by no means the least of the leading cities of Judah; for from you will come a leader who will guide my people Israel."" 
So Herod called the visitors from the east to a secret meeting and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem with these instructions:
"Go and make a careful search for the child, and when you find him, let me know, so that I too may go and worship him."
And so they left, and on their way they saw the same star they had seen in the east. When they saw it, how happy they were, what joy was theirs! It went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. They went into the house, and when they saw the child with his mother Mary, they knelt down and worshipped him. They brought out their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, and presented them to him.
Then they returned to their country by another road, since God had warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod....Joseph ...took the child and his mother, and left during the night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother, and go back to the land of Israel, because those who tried to kill the child are dead." So Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went back to Israel.
But when Joseph heard that Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod as king of Judaea, he was afraid to go there. He was given more instructions in a dream, so he went to the province of Galilee and made his home in a town named Nazareth. And so what the prophets had said came true. "He will be called a Nazarene."]

This is the word of the Lord!
Thanks be to God!

Friday, August 19, 2011

AN EXTRACT FROM "CORRIDORS OF POWER" MY MANUSCRIPT YET TO BE PUBLISHED. A LOOK AT MY FIRST EUROPEAN TRIP WITH NEWLY APPOINTED PRESIDENT MASIRE IN 1980.

 "Despite his ardent role as a political activist, Quett Masire had basically been a simple man all his life. In many ways he was a difficult, if not complex character to judge. He could be jovial and exuberant at one moment, and placid to reserved in another. Despite these apparent mood swings, Quett Masire enjoyed company tremendously and could be generous with time for that. Notwithstanding this generosity with company, Sir Ketumile was a punctilious slave-driver and a stingy accountant of every second in a day. Enjoying the lassitude of conversation as he did, Quett Masire made up for lost time through a over-taxing work schedule that overwhelmed virtually every aide in his entourage. Few people in leadership, in my view were so driven by notions of duty and honour as Sir Ketumile was. During the 1980 trip to Europe all our days of the five-week tour began and ended in the Presidential Suite. Quett Masire was as punctilious as he was fastidious on matters of time and detail. His Permanent Secretary and Chief of Staff was a man inherited from the Seretse Khama days, Mr Phillip Steenkamp who accompanied him on the trip. This tall Afrikaner man was as resolute in his work and behaviour as he could be abrasive and uncouth. That was perhaps what his superiors appreciated in him; what mortified some Cabinet Members and Senior officials, mollified objective critics, enthralled interested observers and awed most subordinates. He was an astute officer who spoke his mind. That was what endeared him to Quett Masire.



Some of us in the delegation thought Quett Masire needed a little grooming here and there as President but we were all amazed at his quick adaptation to the big office. He impressed the European Government and business personalities with his pragmatism, economic repertoire and mastery of the English language.


A factor that kept on nagging me throughout the trip as I watched Quett Masire then was what I believed was his lack of presidential decorum; a close friend commented though that my apprehensions arose from the fact that we wanted to transplant Sir Seretse Khama’s anglophile type of character into Quett Masire’s Spartan characteristics. To be fair to Sir Ketumile, despite his rather capricious excursions of character, he was a man of reputable equanimity where astute officialdom was imperative.


My criticism of my president were triggered by instances in Europe in 1980, where he would for instance, drift away from the entourage of host escorts to look at something or the other; or race off to greet someone that he fancied speaking to. I also believed that he exhibited a callous disregard for his personal safety on many occasions, endangering in the process the safety of his host protectors and those of his bodyguards. One such occasion that I recall was when we viewed the city of Belgrade from atop a cliff and Quett Masire had to move towards the very end of the precipice, in order to look down. One of the Yugoslav security guards, a young fellow, stepped in between the Botswana president and the thin line of concrete separating him from his charge and a long drop to what would be the guard's inevitable death. Quett Masire turned around to face the rest of the delegation, almost knocking the guard off balance. I held my breath in suppressed horror. Such incidents were not representative of Quett Masire’s fatherly disposition but he was uncannily given to infantile physical exuberance at times.


Harsh as my judgment was of the supercilious attitude of Sir Ketumile towards his own personal safety, my apprehensions were corroborated by the Yugoslav security guard who astraddle the lofty zones of safety and a a possible plunge to death. I boldly but surreptitiously asked him how he felt. What he told me touched my heart. Yugoslavia was a communist state then. Disgrace to the nation came in many forms. Obeisance was an ubiquitous characteristic of service. The guard said to me:-


"I'd rather lose my life protecting your president because then my family would be spared and protected. But if I live and he plunges to his death, I may as well be dead for all that would happen to me and my family."


Quett Masire never heard this and apparently never quite discerned anything wrong. If he did, he kept it very much to himself. Nonetheless, the Quett Masire that I knew then and that I was to be privileged to know more later, would never have hurt a fly.






I used to observe that despite admitting to having "weak legs" Quett Masire was given to frenetic physical movements, including sharp turns often as rounded as 360 degree motions, with the speed and dexterity of a fox in its prime. He could dart around his surroundings until his delegation and security guards completely lost their bearings and constantly missed where the man was. In later years, I was to quietly interprete this behaviour as a desire to break free from his self-imposed prison. The man had been guarded since independence in 1966 as a Vice President. He was to remain under protective custody even in retirement. Sir Ketumile was born free and every idiosyncrasy of his was a cry for freedom.


On one occasion, we were visiting a snowy area of Norway called Little Hammer (English version) when Quett Masire alighted from the luxury bus we were using, soon after the bus had stopped. His charges did not see the man getting out of the bus although they were sitting next to him and even having constant conversation with the president. Quett Masire started moving towards the direction of a frozen lake. Fortunately, his Botswana tropical climate leather shoes with their slippery sole and heel deterred and slowed his movements. He nearly fell but instead of stopping, kept on wobbling until his charges caught up with him and diverted him from the lake.


Quett did not appear bothered by the little episode that could have plunged him into icy cold waters had he stepped on the thin snow covering the lake. The president was saved from the drama. There was to be a lesser but dramatic episode shortly thereafter. His Botswana security guards were destined for a less perilous but more hilarious snow experience when we got to our hotel. Despite advice from our hosts, few members of the Botswana delegation had bought or brought the rubber-soled shoes that had been recommended for the snowy area of Norway. As the vehicles stopped in front of the hotel, the alert and committed Botswana Security guards spilled out of their cars. One of them rushed forward towards the presidential limousine. The first guard slipped and fell on his back in the snow, legs up in the air, exhibiting well polished black shoes. We roared with laughter as the embarrassed security officer clawed the air in thwarted attempts to stand up. He looked like a capsized giant beetle. His immediate senior reprimanded him in Setswana and then sped towards the president. A few steps forward the second guard went down too. The most senior guard watched the goings on with hands on his hips, his head shaking disapprovingly and then angrily marched past his men to personally take over the supervision of the presidential security. As fate would have it, the most senior guard slipped and fell dramatically too.






Some of the Norwegian authorities took pictures but I confess that I could not take any pictures of these incidents because I was in tears. There was to be a poignant end to this episode.


The First Lady of Botswana Mrs Gladys Masire, later Lady Olebile Masire, who was emerging from her car slowly and carefully, not to mention circumspectedly, watched this whole episode in rapt attention. She stopped her movements and sitting back into the car, Mrs Masire brushed her hands together in a traditional symbol of despondency and said:-


"Jaanong banna ba security ba ole hela botlhe." (All our security guards have now fallen).


In Europe, Quett Masire adorned the cloak of a shrewd salesperson and sold SADC as if it were his very own invention. What you could rely on Quett Masire to do during those days and to do with near perfection, it was his ability and agility to present a concept, nurture it, defend and sustain it. The man had an incredible memory capacity, an ability to grasp issues quickly and an inexhaustible reservoir of vocabulary. Sir Ketumile’s maiden trip to Europe (as president) was highly successful, taking us as it did through the ethereal beauty of European landscape, the dulcet classical music of Ceausescu’s Romania and Tito’s Yugoslavia and right through the often sardonic expressions of Eurocentric sceptics."


……… …… …… ….. …… ….
AN EXTRACT FROM MY MANUSCRIPT "CORRIDORS OF POWER" WHICH IS YET TO BE PUBLISHED. HERE I REFLECT ON A TRIP TO EUROPE WITH FORMER PRESIDENT MASIRE SOON AFTER HE TOOK OVER AS PRESIDENT IN 1980.

CORRIDORS OF POWER

The following is an extract from my manuscript, Corridors of Power, a factual reflection of my experiences whilst working for political figures. The manuscript is under consideration for publication. I just felt like sharing this extract.

My first intimate contact with Sir Ketumile Masire, the man who was to become President of Botswana for 19 years, was in 1980 when as Vice President he abruptly cut his trip to the people's Republic of China due to the terminal illness of his predecessor Sir Seretse Khama. I was a senior journalist then with the Government Department of Information and Broadcasting working for Radio Botswana and the Daily News. Sir Seretse Khama had just returned from London where he had gone for treatment but was returned by his doctors so that he "could die peacefully among his people." The charismatic founder President of the former British colony was dying of cancer.



I first interviewed Vice President Masire when he was known then by his unique but popular first name of Quett, before he changed his title to Sir Ketumile Masire later when he was bestowed the British Knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II. Quett, as he was popularly known then, was regarded nationally as the moneyman, being the Minister of Finance and Development Planning. The man's trademark was his high pitched laughter which echoed around the corridors of every building he occupied and announced him at every occasion. It was an idiosyncrasy that was to become part and parcel of his personality and eventually a cherished sound among his supporters and compatriots.


The intention of the interview was to get answers to the burning questions in the minds of every concerned citizen of Botswana-, which was virtually every one. Now that the nation of this fledgling democracy, was about to lose the only president that they had known, what was going to happen to the leadership of the country? Would Vice President Masire take over automatically? It was common knowledge then that the rather reticent Quett Masire had not shown any ambitions to ascend to the presidency of the country. Masire was believed to be reluctant to become captain of this peaceful but politically and economically fragile southern African state. We posed the questions to Quett Masire. As was always the case, we quickly realised that what Quett Masire lacked in physical stature, he made up for in his remarkable gift of repartee. Admittedly, at first contact before and during his presidency, and even afterwards, one did not have to be Quett Masire’s puppet to discern his obvious superior intellect. His mastery of both the English language and the national language, Setswana, made him a versatile orator and slippery maestro of intellectual gymnastics.


Quett Masire ensured that the bulk of the interview concentrated on his trip to China. The Chinese culture and their work ethic, in particular, had visibly impressed him. I was with colleagues Moreri Gabakgore and Monty Letshwiti when he told us:-






"If I had my way, I would take the entire nation of Botswana to China for them to see how hard working the Chinese are. They have ploughed every where, even on mountain tops."


But would he become President?


As I was to later realise, among Quett Masire’s best personal traits were loyalty to colleagues, friends, the common cause, staunch loyalty to the country, unshakeable belief in free exchange of views and sensitivity. In later years though, the sensitivity trait was to be eroded significantly, most probably due to the apparent invincibility of his political party at the polls and the resultant complaisance of the ruling party.


It was a well known fact that Quett Masire loved Sir Seretse Khama as a friend and colleague as much as he respected the man as president and leader of their political party. Although Quett Masire knew very well that Sir Seretse was dying, he felt it unpalatable to go public with that acceptance. He did not want to play God. Masire's sensitivity also allowed him to perceive how the conservative Botswana nation would regard his statements at the deathbed of their president. He would not speculate on the leadership of the country but he put it in such a way that the journalists who interviewed him left with a story about a hardworking China that could be a model for the nascent workforce of Botswana. As far as Quett was concerned, there was a president in Office. He might have been lying terminally ill at State House but the man was still in Office.


Would he Quett Masire take over as President in the event that Sir Seretse died? I have never forgotten the glint in Masire's eyes when I posed that question to him. Although I was shaken to the core, it was not a malevolent look and neither was it a look of anger. He had the look of a wounded lion. He obviously disapproved of what he probably regarded as my intransigence and lack of sensitivity. One of his other good traits, was the ability to restrain his anger in the presence of subordinates, or in his cultural perspective, children. I do not recall exactly what Quett Masire said but young and obstinate as we were then, we left his office feeling guilty that we had asked the questions that our journalistic training allowed us to ask. The second most powerful man in the land had not subjected us to official harassment and yet we felt remorseful. We went to our newsrooms and wrote the story about China.


A few days later, Sir Seretse Khama died peacefully at his official residence. We learnt that he had called his best friend and right hand man, Quett Masire, just before he died, and told him:-


"I have done my part. The rest is left to you."


It was not until years later after retirement as President that Quett Masire wrote in his book entitled: “VERY BRAVE OR VERY FOOLISH? Memoirs of an African Democrat.” :


“I was a reluctant politician. If I had my way, I would not have become a politician in the 1960s, but I felt I had to do it because there was a need. In 1980, if people had felt someone else should be president, I would have given him, or her, my full support…when I arrived at the airport in Gaborone , having been recalled from a visit to China, two officials told me that he [Sir Seretse Khama] was dying. They pleaded that if I was asked to succeed him, I shouldn’t say no. Many people, including members of the opposition parties, began coming to me to urge me to accept the role if I were asked.”


I have been to the State House on several occasions during the tenure of the presidency of Sir Ketumile Masire, and even during the service of his successors. It had emblazoned itself in my mind as a tribute to the democratic sanity of Botswana that successors to Sir Seretse Khama, though belonging to the generation of ardent traditionalists, showed no effort to obliterate the symbolic presence of the former tenant. I had noticed that pictures of Sir Seretse Khama still graced the walls of State House, together with those of the incumbent president. When I saw these retained symbols of continuum, I postulated that Africans were generally superstitious and would had hence tended to nurture deeply morbid fears of death, particularly in residences of power and esteem where former beneficiaries would have ailed and died. Discarding these unrealistic fears, and portrayal of the vivid examples of untainted regard for official residence as a place of service devoid of personal patronage symbolized to me true attributes of political maturity. In this connection, Quett Masire singled himself out for this political maturity award as the first succeeding tenant of a deceased predecessor. Coupled with the fact that Sir Ketumile had been close, life-long friends with Sir Seretse Khama, President Masire appeared to me to have set an excellent tone for future tenancy of the State House and assumption of powers of state.


That was, however, until I read In his memoirs Sir Ketumile expresses sentiments that undermine my sentiments about retaining footprints of the late Sir Seretse Khama. Quett Masire depicts himself as a victim of a slow and cumbersome bureaucracy that made him tolerate pictures of his late friend and predecessor, even though he would have preferred otherwise. Sir Ketumile writes:


“As president, Seretse Khama’s picture had hung on the wall in every government office and most business establishments. Civil servants took it as given that after I became president, my picture should be on the wall.


But in the workings of government bureaucracy, it took many months before Seretse’s picture was taken down and exchanged for mine. When the pictures were exchanged, some people, especially some Bangwato, were resentful.”


My observations were correct, however, about Sir Ketumile’s reluctant to comment in detail to us during the interview we had with him when he returned from China. To us, the journalists, it appeared straight forward that the Vice President would assume the presidency upon the demise of the incumbent. We assumed the government recognized the fact and presumed the public felt the same way. Apart from the man’s renowned reticence, why was he reluctant to answer our questions on the succession plan? It took 26 years for Sir Ketumile to answer the question. He writes about his feelings when Sir Seretse Khama died and he had to adorn the cloak of state:


“The transition after Seretse’s death was very difficult for me for many reasons. First, I had lost a very close friend and a colleague whom I greatly admired. Second, there was the grief we all felt on losing the man who was the father of the nation. Then there was a feeling among the public that government was in too great a hurry to select a new president. Further, both the natural grief that everyone felt, and the public’s concern that we were acting too hastily in choosing a successor, were focussed on government; and it was especially directed to me as the interim leader of the government. It was a very trying time.”


Monday, March 28, 2011

MARVELLOUS MAZE

Once he had a song composed that was his and he owned

The lyrics were his and so were the cords so well tuned

Then he thought himself unfit to play the flute and sing

That song that he used to sing was left tunelessly unsung

But he kept the flute and the soulful notes

The musical lyrics remained in his bones



Soon he realised he ought to have played his hearty tunes

That he never sought less than singing in such fine tones

He lamented the lost notes and the drifting away lyrics

Hardest as he concentrated he felt he had lost the histrionics

Was the music all gone with his unsung song?

Or would he ever again compose melody so strong?



Recollecting he gathered his garments of life and readied for strife

No stone would be unturned and no moment spared of his life

Because hardest as the shell of struggle to reclaim remained

He would have sufficient stores of pursuit for reclaim retained

To go after the tune and tones and lyrics

And rebuild his song on new musical bricks





By THE POET IN ME
Andrew Onalenna Sesinyi