The Tshelang Masisi I know

| September 6, 2013

Death, which I verily believe is an act of God, has once more robbed this nation of a great stalwart in Member of Parliament for Francistown West, Tshelang Walter Masisi who will be buried on Saturday in his home village of Moshupa. ‘TW’ or  ‘Face Copper Chiefs,’ as we used to call him, was no doubt my childhood hero during our heydays in Selebi-Phikwe.

The flamboyant ‘TW,’ a teacher by profession who ventured into business, was everybody’s friend. He sacrificed his personal resources and impressed many a Selebi-Phikwe residents with the way he helped to transform one of the local football sides, Copper Chiefs (now FC Satmos) – the first team in the country to win the now defunct President‘s Day [football] Cup after beating Mahalapye Hotspurs 1-0. ‘TW’s’ relocation to Selebi-Phikwe is one of the best things ever to happen for the copper and nickel-mining town. He joined and took over as a manager for Copper Chiefs at a time when it needed to be re-energised because the chips were down. The club coffers were drying up when compared to cross-town blood rivals Nico United who enjoyed the sponsorship of the mining giant company BCL.

By then ‘TW’ was the regional manager of Cash Bazaar Stores. In his committee there were the likes of transport magnate Johnson Motlogelwa who had just started a business. Others were Matches Matlhole, Patrick Zoo Modise, Andries Setlhare, Gideon Jama who also doubled as a player and executive committee member, to mention but a few. 

Although all committee members played their part, ‘TW’ became the most innovative in terms of ensuring that the club that had no assets except a few sets of uniforms and football balls, as well as being loaned a dusty open field, remained liquid and turned into a household name. A charismatic ‘TW’ took the club to greater heights by ensuring it had a good support base from all walks of life. He also emphasised the need to have young, pretty women and handsome boys who served as the centre of attraction and/or mobile advertisement whenever the club had engaged in fundraising activities which he dubbed “Face Copper Chiefs.” Such money-spinning events were in the form of either beauty pageants, selling of merchandise, or concerts – which he ensured took place at night when Copper Chiefs was fixtured against a side from a different town in order to cut travelling costs.

‘TW’ was a loving brother who took responsibility and ensured all schoolboys like me at the time were well taken care of during Copper Chiefs outings. This is where he got his nickname “Face Copper Chiefs” because he was hyperactive and would always move from one corner of the field to the other either dancing or passing jokes shouting ‘face copper chiefs’ whenever the team was in action.

While in Selebi-Phikwe, ‘TW’ started his series of businesses in particular pharmacies, which were operated by his wife then, Mmakakanyo, together with the younger sister. The enterprising ‘TW’ would later relocate to Francistown where he continued to run his businesses, which included taxis. His relocation to Botswana’s second city also marked the fall of Copper Chiefs because of the expenses involved in running a football club. Many of those who remained behind could not afford to spend all the money needed. This gave football players who were soldiers a chance to join Copper Chiefs under then Colonel Sello Katse, as they were fully sponsored by BDF.Copper Chiefs would later relegate from the premier league after the military pulled out its players when the league season was still on following a clash between the civilians and the military over control of the club. I was not surprised when I heard that the benevolent football administrator-cum- businessman had joined politics in Francistown.

But, the fact is, he was very much in order and following in the footsteps of his father. Being a great charmer, smooth talker and organiser, I knew the people of Francistown would be impressed with him so much that they would never get a chance to ask him questions such as why he wanted a seat in their backyard than Moshupa. ‘TW’ has been MP since 1999 after defeating the then MP for Francistown West, Vain Mamela of Botswana Congress Party (BCP). He was the Councillor for Tatitown Ward before he became MP. He was born into a family steeped in BDP tradition, being the son of the late Edison Setlhomo Masisi – a veteran politician who held several ministerial positions and later became deputy Speaker of the National Assembly. He is the elder brother to the current Moshupa legislator Mokgweetsi. As fate would have it, he was diagnosed with a kidney condition and received a kidney donation from his wife Ntetleng. He would later form the Masisi Organ Foundation to raise awareness about kidney diseases and money for sufferers.

The jovial Tshelang, a teacher-cum- businessman and politician also had his dark side: being short tempered so much that he would easily confront any situation that required him to apply great force. But his marriage to a calm Ntetleng – who is good in resolving conflicts – brought the trick. She taught her husband to be patient. The two together made a great contribution. May your soul rest in peace, ‘TW.’


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