Thursday, July 18, 2013

Westminster chronicles

Palace of Westminster! courtesy: google :)

This is a story of a Botswana public school (aka Setswana Medium School) product. In the mist of private school fees review in Botswana, there has arisen a debate over the differences in the quality of education and caliber of students from these schools. In defense of public schools: I am a proud Setswana school product and thanks to my fierce, strict and close whipped teachers who forced me into extra curricula activities including debate, public presenting, volunteering, I am now a part of one of the most prestigious scholarship programs in the world.
Through being a Chevening scholar I have attended several interesting events and met some incredible people including David Cameron, William Hague, Speaker of House of Commons John Bercow,Lord Speaker Baroness D'Souza, Lord Browne of Ladyton and many others. I had never been to the UK before and yet I felt very familiar with the UK particularly London: I had grown up with the James Bond movies and some which showcased the amazing architecture and skyline of London. In all of the movies and pictures, there was always a constant; BIG BEN of the palace of Westminster. Naturally when I finally made it out here I had to see this building thus 'validating my arrival'. I was in absolute awe, not only of its beauty, but also because my mind rushed through all kinds of times this building had been through; from being the primary monarch residence, to being brought to ashes by a fire, world war bombing… this is truly an iconic building. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd get to see the inside of this building and certainly not the private halls that are not open to the public.

My first time at this time defying building was at the invitation of House speaker at his private halls for the centenary celebrations of the existence of the ACU, the body dealing with commonwealth and Chevening scholarships. The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) is the world's first and oldest international university network, established in 1913. It has in 100years has sponsored tens of thousands scholars from over 163 countries. Being a part of such a celebration humbled me: as I am just a drop to this sea and it’s every drop which is able to majestically magnify  these scholarships.[0]=news/list

The next time, I was at the invitation of Baronness D'souza Lord Speaker for a private one on one conversation. This is a woman of formidable force, a trained scientist who became a human rights and development professional. You know what they say ' charity begins at home', she gave up her international career to work back at home in the House of Lords, as the speaker she intends on improving the public's perception of the house. One of the things I took from our chat is that accessibility humanizes you; when people see you as human they can relate to you and will help you in reaching your goals, this makes one’s job easier. She gave me an opportunity to do what I love best; sell Botswana! I pretty much told her all I know and love about my country and as you can imagine, that was a long conversation. J

  My last time (for now) was at the esteemed invitation of Lord Browne of Ladyton. I was barely hours from visiting Barcelona (which was a whirlwind, a story for another time!) and to be honest I was exhausted and didn't have great expectations because I was unprepared. The thing is I have a routine for pre-meetings, I psych myself up and make some talking points and all but because I had just landed, I did not have time to do all my crazy preparations. However, this visit turned out to be a real treat! As we walked through the halls of Westminster I got a nice introduction to British history, the history of the building, for example the architect responsible for the rebuilding was Sir Charles Barry who worked with Pugin and Grace for the interior. After an insightful and interesting look into Britain delivered by one of those that know it best, we settled into a tea room overlooking the Thames and just for a second, I lost myself in that elegant view. Here we continued our conversation which covered everything from the British Empire, the Commonwealth and development, all with a strong base on leadership. Lord Des Browne's political career started in 1989 when he served as MP in parliament, he later held several cabinet portfolios such as Secretary of State for Defense under PM Tony Blair and PM Gordon Brown . A lawyer by training, Lord Browne was very frank and honest on issues discussed and this left me dumbfounded at times. One thing I'd like to share from this meet is a statement he said or implied more than once: 'real change needs real leadership'. This wasn't the first time I'd heard this statement, however, coming from a leader of his stature, it was comforting to hear him say it with such a passion. There was definitely something different in the way he said it. He joined politics not for the fame or money but because he wanted to do more for what he believed in and his country. He also said ' Political leadership is very important; we need people who are willing to go beyond their needs and who will recognize a requisite for change'. I get and believe that Political inertia stunts development and progress, we need to catch up with the times and reduce the years we take to create change for the better. At this point I thought I had reached the climax of my visit and I was totally unprepared for what came next. I was shown to a special gallery where David Cameron delivered his statement to the house on Afghanistan (the dates the army would leave) and additionally on youth unemployment. Those who know me, would understand my excitement; how coincidental that the house debates an issue close to my heart when I'm there.

Since Im already discussing politics, I might as well share one of the contentious chats over the months with scholars and professionals. We always seem to touch on the need for MP term/service restriction. I mean we have one for the president; in Botswana the President can only serve for 2 terms, all the while with MPs who have served for 30years! I greatly value experience and the wealth of knowledge that comes with serving for that long; however there is a challenge of breaking away from habit, the norm and the tradition. We limit innovative ideas and debates in our parliaments; we need some 'fresh blood', people who can challenge the status quo. Isn't it just a great time to be a youth right now, particularly in developing countries? Most debates are about us and in some countries the regulators are fairly accessible and there are ways in which one can contribute to policy in various aspects that titillate one's interest. I think if we miss this opportunity to challenge governments and hold them accountable we would have not only failed ourselves but our future generations.

Not too bad of a story by a public ‘Setswana medium’ school alumni, eh? I have been warmed by these experiences and I thank Chevening scholarships but most importantly Meepong CJSS and Ledumang Senior School. Personally I don’t think I’ve been disadvantaged by the school system I’ve been through but rather molded to have thick skin, to know that sweet success is paved way by torture (referring to those butt whips!!), to find opportunity in the desert (mabudula ka archar! Hehe, innovation right there!), thanks Mr Adams, Molapong and others for your services. Tota ke lebogela le nyola e e nkgodisitseng (I also thank the public school break time beans that helped me grow)! haha 

One last thing; May the parents of our children be diligent, responsible, successful and rich!

Till I write and you read,

Lord speaker Baroness D'Souza 

Lord Des Browne of Ladyton

ACU Centenary celebrations

House of Lords Throne

ps; Cameras and phones are not allowed inside so I dont have pictures to show you just how beautiful the throne in the house of Lords and the halls are.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

26 on the 26th

I wonder if 26 years, 1 month and 7 days ago at noon on a  Tuesday my parents knew the kind of person they had just brought into this world. As devout christians, they decided to name their 3rd daughter Bogolo jwa Modimo ( the greatness of God!) And ofcourse that was such a long name and it had to be cut short to Bogolo. There is a setswana saying 'Ina lebe seromo' which means the name bestowed upon one defines their life, and what a grand name I have been given!

This past year has been incredible for me, I know I write and say  this a lot but what good is being blessed when you can't share it with people you love and the world? Iv had my dreams come true and beyond, plans unfold to unbelievable levels; I am in the UK doing my masters and last year I got an opportunity to work with a team on capturing the lives of some phenomenal women, women who now have become close to my heart and well, a whole lot happened which would really take the whole year to write out.

 My 26th year began high paced: I was invited to Debeers diamond centre in London where I got to see and hold some of the world's rarest diamond (which I'll own some day :P ), I attended an FCO reception as a Chevening scholar where I got introduced to some important people who later invited me to their offices for tea and stuff. I got to see the insides of Parliament not open for public tours where I was hosted by the speaker of the house of commons for the ACU centenary celebrations. The special room where we were I swear had whispers of greatness and I was humbled to be in such a 'history museum'; I mean, when in such old buildings I think of how many people have been there, their dresses of the periods, crazy! In the same week I was invited by the Lord Speaker of the house of Lords for some chit chat (more on this on another post) :). My birthday was unfortunately during exams but some few special people made my day extra special by joining me for dinner, my flat mates threw me a bbq party and I was also later treated to an amazing (celebratory) lunch in London.

If the beginning of my 26th reflects the rest of the year then I'm super excited and I can only hope that more years be as good to me as this first month. I'd like to thank those who wished me happy bday despite my absence on facebook!! Your calls, emails, watsapp messages, BBms, gifts etc. I am lucky to have you guys. A quick shout out to the one person who believed in giving greeting cards for every occasion: Laydie my beloved sister, your birthday card was missed this year!

 Some words I heard Dr Chiepe say to my mother have stuck with me not because it boosted my ego but because it came from such a genuine place and a giant. Whenever there's a cast of doubt in my mind I remind myself of these words she said:  ' you have an incredible daughter, she is such a blessing to this world'. Since I like sharing, remember that you too are a blessing to this world so do something majestic to show it!

Till I write and you read!

A tout