The search for a fulfilling job has shaped him to be a trade union leader of repute today.
He has been a teacher, police officer and today Ibo Kenosi leads one of the biggest and oldest trade unions in Botswana.
In this interview he opens up about his journey in the civil service and his duties as a union leader.
Q. Good day Mr Kenosi. Please introduce yourself.
Thank you. My name is Ibo Nana Condrat Kenosi.
I was born over 30 years ago in a small village called Nshakashogwe in the northern side of Botswana.
Q. Please take us back to your student years.
I started my Primary school at Gumare primary school, later on I went to Letlhakane and I then proceeded to Mater Spei College.
Q. Why were you being transferred all over?
I was staying with my sister who then was working for the Government.
She was always on transfer even though I didn’t like the idea of moving up and down I had no choice because she was my guardian.
My parents stayed at the fields so I couldn’t live with them because I needed to go to school.
Q. Did you manage to focus on your schoolwork with so many transfers?
Yes! I was a bright student and I never lost focus on my studies.
What I hated though is that I never had much time to make friends because I used to stay in a place for just a year before we got transferred to the next place.
Q. Where did you go upon completing your studies?
I went on government national service formally known as ‘Tirelo Sechaba’ in the Kgatleng region.
I joined the Ministry of Agriculture under the Animal Health and Production Department.
Q. Interesting! How does animal health relate to what you do now?
Oh! I see you are still young.
During the ‘Tirelo Sechaba’ days we did not chose where we wanted to be placed.
You were just told to go work where the government felt there was a need.
They just picked you and threw you there and you had to survive.
That’s why most of the senior guys within the government can handle a lot of jobs.
I must however say I was lucky to have been placed under animal health and production department because I have so much passion for agriculture.
I mostly worked with veterinary services and used to operate in areas such as Mmathubudikwane and Mochudi in Kgatleng.
Q. What did you learn during your national service tenure?
I learnt a lot about agriculture and how to manage livestock which is what most Batswana depend on.
I joined at a time when there was an outbreak of animal contagious disease in Ngamiland and a lot of skilled agriculture employees were deployed there.
This a skeletal team in our region which later saw me joining the senior team overseeing the animal health and production in Kgatleng.
I am very proud to say that most of the agriculture projects in Kgatleng that I initiated then are still alive.
I then had to choose where to go for my preferred career.
I went to train with the Botswana Police College where I graduated as a police officer.
Q. Did you ever practice as a police officer?
Yes. I worked under Botswana Police Service for almost five years.
I was based in Kazungula and from there I quit and went to study for primary teaching.
What motivated your move from the police station to the classroom?
I was motivated by my background and upbringing.
I was not earning enough whilst working for Botswana Police but I had a challenge of supporting my parents back home so I had to go for further studies in order to get a better job but still as a teacher I had to work extra hard to make ends meet.
I quit five years after offering my services and joined union politics.
I was then elected the secretary general of the Botswana Teachers Union since 2010 to date.
I have studied for labor issues and now have a Diploma in Labor law.
Q. What would you say is the difference between Botswana police then and now?
When I joined the Botswana Police it was more of a police force and we worked mostly through instructions and now it’s a police service.
The police are now bringing the society closer to them. They have now realized that it’s important to involve the society in order to curb crime.
Back then it was all about them and no one had a say in what they were doing.
Despite all the changes I am however worried that the police are paid peanuts.
Their salaries are not proportional to the workload. They do a lot and get less.
If there could be improvement in that area then we would see motivated police officers.
Q. Police officers don’t have a union to represent their interests. What’s your take on that?
I am heavily worried that they don’t have a union. Even though there is a forum used for them to air their grievances I just feel it’s not democratic.
I feel they should be left to form a union.
Q. How about teaching service now?
When I came into teaching, teachers were the worst paid.
Q. What did you do about it since you are their representative under this union?
When I was appointed Secretary General, my first assignment was to work hard to improve conditions of service and I think I have partly achieved that because teachers are amongst the highest paid civil servants.
I have been battling with the government on the issue since 2010 and I achieved that in 2011 November 1 and it was implemented in July 2013.
To me that was excellent because I managed to do all that in just three years of my contract.
Q. Are you saying teachers are paid enough?
No! I am not saying that. We are not paid enough but all I am saying is that things are better compared to where we were before.
The salary paid to a school teacher now is the same salary that was paid to a school head who is considered a manager when I joined the teaching service.
School heads were under the C salary scale in primary schools, D3 in secondary schools and today we see something different. C1 is just an ordinary scale for a teacher not yet promoted.
Q. What inspired you to go into labour politics?
Some comrades within the labour movements identified my leadership skills because immediately after joining the teaching service I started being vocal about issues concerning teachers.
It was through this that some comrades asked me to contest for the position I am holding today.
Q. You were once quoted in the local media encouraging teachers to ignore students. Why did you say that?
I was frustrated by the turn of events.
The government was dragging her feet in implementing levels of operation and just didn’t care about teachers.
She didn’t want to pay teachers for working overtime and then I said our temper was no longer elastic.
The elasticity of our temper as teachers had reached breaking point.
I therefore told teachers not to continue the hard labour when the Government didn’t want to recognize their efforts.
Immediately after those headlines I had a live show on Botswana Television, head to head with the Minister of education Pelonomi Venson Moitoi to discuss those issues.
Even though some people didn’t support what I said, the minister and her team acted on time and delivered.
Q. As the Secretary General, what does your job entail?
I am the top administrator.
I deal with the day to day running of Botswana Teachers Union. Apart from that I also have a duty of protecting the union members interests politically.
I also represent the union in forums we have interests in.
I advise the officer of the industrial relations office.
Q. How many members does BTU have?
We have over 17 000 teachers at the moment who are registered under this union.
I hear of allegations that some of our members have dual membership cards with us and BOSETU but I am not aware of that because every day I receive new members joining the union.
Q. Is your union affiliated to any political party?
We are not. There is no way we can force them to choose one party.
They have own rights to observe those who support their interests and vote for them and that is what we have always maintained as five big unions.
Q. Thank you for your time Mr Kenosi. What’s good this weekend?
I am a married man and my wife stays out of town so I will be out of this busy city with my beautiful wife.