Justice Gaolekwe – Maverick Newscaster Returns [opinion]

It was really hard to imagine the morning bulletin without him.

The absence of his crony voice in the news cubicle of Radio Botswana (the station at the heart of the nation) equalled the pain of losing a loved one.

Now he is back. And as he would put it in his self-styled Setswana, “Justice Gaolekwe o ipoile kgatshu!”

Six years ago, Gaolekwe announced his retirement from the national broadcaster waning into retirement to pursue other interests in life. Many Radio Botswana loyal listeners were this past week in disbelief to hear his voice once again bellowing in the morning bulletin.

But for a very simple reason… “I physically went away from radio but emotionally I belong here,” he tells me with a stern face which completely belies the rib-tickling tone we often hear on radio. “I took a rest to attend to personal stuff which I believe I gave the necessary attention.

I wrote two books and currently writing the other two which I’m still working on.

E santse ele phitlhela kgomo ya serotswana,” he explains.

In his best element Gaolekwe clearly master the art of Setswana. At times he seems to have a keen interest in keeping the nation informed about the latest current affairs but often seem vulnerable to the temptation to impress his audience with whatever comes out of his mouth rather than what it needed to know.

It is not always the truth that matter for him, but that which was believable.

“Mokhanselara wa Kabakae bophirima o tumpotswe ke tonki ya gagwe ka bofafalele jo bogolo ya mo fofora meno otlhe ya bo ya mo roba leleme ka bogare,” he is rumoured to have said this at one point, relating a sad incident that he dramatized in a very humorous manner.

It is this amazing skill and flair that Gaolekwe built upon to establish his brand and coin a few words that will forever be ingrained in those who listen to him on air.

He would often refer to countries facing tough economic periods or political turmoil as “Lefatshe la Syria le tabogile lepaapaa… “

He is also very much aware those who try to mimic him, and at times mocking him, ” Maduo a lekwalo la bosupa a dule. Bana bale makgolo a marataro le bosupa ba tsere maemo a ntlha mme mo go bone yo mongwe ke ngwanake,” one of his impersonators ascribed this to him.

“As a reader I have been taught that when you read use word pictures. Use a simple word that is known to the listener but draw a picture with that word for your listener to visualize.

There are those stories that are humorous but I hardly laugh,” said Gaolekwe. He is an avid reader of local and international affairs who have familiarized himself with tongue twisting names especially of leaders and countries in the Far East. Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Phnom Penh amongst others are some of the country names he pronounces with relative ease and with a strong tinge of Setswana.

Gaolekwe has always been inspired by his former colleagues Moreri Gabakgore and Bishy Mmusi. Mmusi would call him as soon as he goes off air and asks him, “Ao motlogolo golo hale one a bala jang tota?”

The other person who instils inspiration in him is former President Sir Ketumile Masire, an ardent Setswana speaker.The maverick translator, newsreader and writer had formed a formidable partnership in his heydays with the likes of Mogorosi Baatweng, Sefane Phuthego, Oshinga Tsiang, Motshegetsi Gasennelwe, Monica Mphusu and the late Basil Thathatu. They worked under the watchful eye of nifty news anchor Rebaone Mookodi.

Source : BOPA