Dear Young Citizen of Botswana
There will be no revolution, no thunderous waves of angry voices marching in the streets of Gaborone, Francistown or that dusty place called Serowe. There will be no youth revolt like the Arab spring or an enduring movement like #occupywallstreet. But there will be clout chasing, limelight hogging, defence of privilege and most of all faux-activism on Twitter by wanna-be woke fellas. Let me not forget meaningless news coverages.
For weeks, A.T.I has been in the limelight as he endured on a campaign to get his voice heard by those in power. He was the point of ridicule on social media. We all saw videos and tweets that made him the butt of everyone’s joke. He stood lonely, like a lighthouse on a remote sea-town, beaming into oblivion in a lonely night. The nation watched and called him names until he was a jail cell. His moment of ‘martyrdom’ had to be punctuated by his loss of liberty for his message to resonate. The saying is true, we only get our flowers when we are in our graves. The jail was his symbolic grave. His cry was as old as the republic is.
There will be no revolution I said. The reason is quite simple. We have been pacified like babies sitting on their cradles sucking on thumbs. Our cultural values have been weaponised to quash descent. The brutality of government has not been meted out by physical violence but it has been violent nonetheless. Psychological violence. To question those in power is as taboo as using mirror during a thunderstorm. Senseless.
There will be no revolution because we lack strong and organised civic organisations that hold leadership to account. Those at the helm of leadership in civic organisations serve not as watchdogs of the nations but gatekeepers for those in power to ensure their rule is undisturbed. Civic organisations are apologists for the violence that government has exposed to our people; our young people bearing the grim scars of economic brutality as their dreams die before their very own eyes.
The lack of unity of purpose and confluence of interests make it harder to organise and bring about a revolution. If there could have been a revolution in this country, the 2011 civil service strike would have been the perfect match to light the fire. But here we are, wallowing in our own old age misery as misdirected self-interest gets in the way. Young people are constantly told that activism is the death of their economic lives and only a few dare to challenge the status quo lest they be passed on for the next job or business opportunity solely because you refused to be quietened.
Do you want a revolution? Then I am sorry to say you need more than the self-sacrifice of A.T.I to bring it about. The ballot would do so little to bring about a revolution in the country until a revolution of mindset comes along. Unless we throw away our pacifiers we shall be singing the same old song, sing songs of desired change as those in castles laugh over a pout of cherry, smoked salmon and cheap cigars. You want a revolution, be the goddamned revolution.