Whenever the elections period comes around, we always proclaim that the ‘silly season’ is upon us. We say that for one precise reason, this being that politicians would jump through hoops to get elected. From kissing babies to wearing flat caps to out of synch attempts at dancing. If there was a person who knew how to play this game of buffoonery it is the former and fourth President of Botswana Ian Khama. He has done it all. One would have thought he couldn’t embarrass himself any further until recently. Maybe embarrassing oneself is an understatement of what he did. What he did is what I would say amounts to hate speech and the consequences, intended and unintended, could be dire.
On the 7th of October 2019, I came across some very pictures of the former President on Twitter which left a rather bitter and fowl taste in my mouth. We have witnessed him disrespect and use opponents’ families as punching bags in his political campaigns. I have always known he harboured but I never thought he would reach such a low. In the pictures, the former President is shown taking a Buddhist religious symbol (the Tsongkhapa, normally associated with Tibetan Buddhism) and mockingly dressing the same with BDP regalia. I was horrified at the symbolism he was portraying. I shudder at the thought of what he said before and after that. The pictures are reproduced herein for your appreciation.
Unlike insults and frequent ridicule of his political opponents, this is not political banter or a remnant of the silly season. This is an insult to a religion and an insult to those who belong to the Buddhist religion. What he did is hate speech, plain and simple. I can’t for one fathom of any scenario where he did that as a sign of reverence to the BDP. His current animosity with the BDP doesn’t allow for such thinking. It is a hate filled relationship. What he has done is dangerous and irresponsible. It is blasphemous. Personally, I am inclined to say the above acts contravene Section 136 of the Penal Code (CAP 08:01 Laws of Botswana) and should thus be investigated as such. The former President’s actions defiled a sacred religious object. He did so for political gain, recklessly so, and to please his Christian base who would view the Tsongkhapa as an idol in terms of their teachings. From hereon it’s a slippery slope to the bottom.
Religious intolerance and bigotry should never be tolerated. I am sure that Boko and the UDC, Biggie Butale and the BPF will not come out and condemn Khama. The reason for that is quite simple, THEY DON’T HAVE THE CAJONES. I call upon all of you reading this post right here to join me in condemning this ignorant, idiotic and dangerous act by the former President.