Neighbours, Friends Cherish Moments With ‘The General’

| January 15, 2015

To the world and Botswana at large, the late former vice president, Lt Gen. Mompati Merafhe will always be remembered as a courageous leader and an astute politician who dedicated his life to national service and the development of the country.

But to his neighbours and elders in Botalaote ward in Serowe, he was a gracious man who took time to meet and interact with them and live among them without looking at his status. He gave them undivided attention and never shied away from dirtying his hands to be amongst them.

Reminiscing about a man he described as more than a neighbour, Mr Bernard Letsididi, 80, recalled how he met the man who was known as ‘The General’ around 1960 in Serowe. It was Lt Gen. Merafhe’s larger-than life attitude that made the two men to hit it off like a house on fire.

Mr Letsididi, who completed his teacher training in Lobatse in 1960, said he heard a lot about Lt Gen. Merafhe when he was posted to the same school where Lt Gen. Merafhe had schooled.

He heard that he was one of the brilliant students at Simon Ratshosa Primary School in Serowe. It was around the same time when the deceased started his job as a police constable with the Police Mobile Unit.

“I heard a lot about him and when we met we clicked until his last breath,” he said. He said they were brought together when they were looking for residential plots. The two share a boundary in Botalaote in Serowe, and it was at the ward that the two cemented their relationship.

Looking back, Mr Letsididi said most people would agree that Lt Gen. Merafhe was a charismatic man a very brave and optimistic man who went where few dared to go. He said he was stern and uncompromising when the occasion demanded, but never lost his personal touch.

Mr Letsididi also fondly remembers Lt Gen. Merafhe as a philanthropist who never cared about people’s economic status and political affiliations. It was after his retirement that Lt Gen. Merafhe extended his giving hand to not only government institutions, but to Miscellanous Football Club and other individuals.

“He has donated cattle to a number of organisations in the village,” he said. At Miscellaneous, he said they have lost a father figure who always bailed the team out financially. He spearheaded a number of fundraising initiatives for the team and when the need arose, Mr Letsididi said he dug deep in his own pockets to support the team.

“He was the leading cheerleader of the team and even when it got relegated, he still rallied behind it and has done everything possible to ensure its return to the elite league,” he recalled.

As a result, he said his death had robbed them of a man who was dedicated to the upliftment of the lives of his tribesmen. “Many people when they retire, they choose to stay in the cities, but he was a different man because he relocated to his home village and he was one of the people who we cried to, and we do not know who we will run to when in dire straits,” he said.

He said Serowe would be poorer without Lt Gen. Merafhe, adding that he was a man of humour. “His death is a very sad moment for the family and the nation at large,” he said.

Mr Emmanuel Ontumetse, 87, an elder in Serowe and also a neighbour had nothing but praise for the former vice president. Mr Ontumetse said the late Lt Gen. Merafhe had a knack to get the best out of every individual and always led by example.

He recalled an incident where his wife, who had been hospitalised in South Africa, died and the late former vice president was in the thick of things taking control of the situation in Serowe whilst his wife’s body was still to be brought back home.

“He lived well amongst his people always laid back and relaxed at home. That’s the kind of person he was,” he recalled fondly. Lt Gen. Merafhe died on January 7, aged 78 and will be buried in Serowe on Saturday. B

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Governance

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