During the two day Letsema conference which was held in Francistown recently a group of farmers were overheard discussing issues concerning the beef industry and their future. Talking over what seemed to be a sumptuous lunch which included beef, they spoke of how even though were enjoying the meat they had become impoverished over the years as their industry is going down the drain.
Farmer wearing a cowboy hat: Gentlemen the issues we are discussing today are very sensitive and quite stressful.
Farmer in green safari outfit: Ya, things are not well and if we don’t stand up and fight for the beef industry it will go to the dogs. Times have changed and are more challenging than before such that I beginning to wonder if I made a wise investment. During our days we thought we were making a wiser investment when we were buying cattle and dreaming of having a sizeable herd.
Farmer in brown jacket: (While battling to eat with a fork and knife)When we were employed all we fought for or dreamed of was to own a cattle post with a borehole and a herd of the finest breed. Nothing else ever crossed our minds.
Cowboy hat: Meanwhile our mates applied for plots in Gaborone, Phikwe and other towns. We laughed and labeled them fools because they were investing in towns instead of back in the village.
Brown Jacket: (shaking his head) Monna if they could see us now, hey they would have a field day at the troubles we are in.
Safari outfit: True Mokwena, but when I was still a strong young man I detested the idea of being a township fellow and having my children as banna batoropo (children of the city). For this reason I never bothered to buy a house or even apply for SHAA plots in one of these towns.
Cowboy hat: But bo rra look at them now, they are sitting pretty, raking in thousands of pulas every month from rentals.
Brown jacket: They are not toiling and suffering as we are now. I understand rentals in towns increase ever year, unlike the price of beef. Buyers are paying as little at P5 per kilogram. This is just daylight robbery!
Dark green jacket: Hmm, our problem is that we thought BMC would never change; it would always be the cash cow it was in the 80s and 90s where each time you sold 10 beasts you needed a briefcase to pack your cash. Now I understand why they say one must never put their eggs in one basket.
Green khakis: (whistles while shaking head) Those were the days where we I would walk with a spring in my step. Never in my lifetime did I dream our beef would be banned by the Queen or any of these cold countries. But speaking of owning plots and settling in towns, gentlemen I am still not for it. What kind of a man would one be if he is not know which kgotla he comes from? (The men roar with laughter).
Brown jacket: It was our pride then, to belong to a kgotla, but what benefit is it for us in today’s world? (shrugs his shoulders).
Safari outfit: I can’t bear the thought of my children being asked where they are from and saying home is plot or house number so and so in such and such road in Gaborone. Nonsense banna. (the other men almost choke over their food )
Farmer with cell phone round his neck: Hela Mokwena you will make us choke and fail to eat this special lunch. At least if we had bought two or so of houses in the cities we would be renting them out, still stick to our traditional Setswana way of life staying in the village and going to the cattle post.
Brown jacket: All the same bo rra lets not lose heart in this business which has fed and educated our children. We need to tackle this beast and the diseases which keeps breaking out all over the country wiping out our herds. It’s up to us to fix the wrongs, to put our heads together and stop the finger pointing.
Brown cowboy hat: Well said, you have a point(wiping his mouth) let’s not fight even those farmers of a lighter skin colour. They are facing the same problems as us. As Batswana we are not known for violence, but for resolving issues peaceful.
Oversized jacket; (nodding head) even in the mines back in South Africa, we were called cowards. Where there was violence or spilling of blood you would never find a Motswana. Basotho and the Zulus were the trouble makers and always at the forefront in strikes. Batswana were known for sticking out their two fingers, the next thing a person falls to the ground. (laughter)
Green khakis: ooh! For the catapult. Yes we are good at using that rubber weapon! (men stand up to go back to the conference). Let’s not forget we need to get the bottom of things and find out why the BMC is ailing the way it is.