Repatriated Zimbabweans settle in Bots

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FRANCISTOWN — Mabunde ward headman, Nelson Khupe, who is also one of the 650 Bakalanga-ba-Ka-Nswazwi repatriated from Jetjeni, Plumtree in 2006 says they have settled well after a smooth and well-coordinated relocation.

He is one of the headmen in the wards where people from Jetjeni have been allocated. Khupe followed suit soon after the remains of Chief John Madawu Nswazwi were exhumed in 2002 and brought back to Botswana for reburial. The then vice-president, Ian Khama made it his mission to reunite them with their relatives.

Khupe coordinated the journey from Jetjeni to Botswana. He says he was tasked with liaising with the Immigration Department for the completion of the process of the relocation.

These were some of the descendants of the people who went to Jetjeni in 1947 when Nswazwi had a fall out with Bangwato regent, Tshekedi Khama.

He says that the good story was that they were welcomed with open arms in Botswana, but what most people do not understand was that even in Zimbabwe they left all well.

Khupe, who says his family went to Jetjeni with Nswazwi when he was seven-years-old, said when they left Zimbabwe they had a farewell party hosted in their honour.

“Some people think that when we left there we were fleeing from President Robert Mugabe. Little do they know that at first he did not know that we were leaving.

“We were supposed to leave on December 6, but we ended up leaving on December 12 because when he heard that we were leaving he said we should be seen off properly,” he says.

He says that at the farewell party, beasts were slaughtered and that there was a lot of feasting, which the then Matebeleland South governor Angelina Masuku graced.

“So the people should not think that we ran away because we were seen off well. We were given a word of advice that we should come to Botswana and be responsible citizens,” he says.

Khupe says people are now settled and have built homes and their children have gone to schools, work in the big cities and others are home.

He says when he arrived in Botswana his family had 10 members.

“I was with my seven children, my wife, and my daughter-in-law,” he says.

He adds that one of his sons and his wife have since passed away and others are working in Johannesburg in South Africa while another completed his studies at the brigade. He says that he is living his life as a farmer.

Khupe says that he still keeps in touch with his relatives in Jetjeni.

“When I was in Jetjeni I used to visit my relatives and communicated with them. Even now I regularly communicate and visit the ones that have remained in Zimbabwe,” he says.

He says that some people remained there voluntarily and some are now regretting and want to come to Botswana, but the problem is that the process has been completed.

“If they want to come they would have to start over and make another list and request to come,” he adds saying that all in all life is better here.

“In Jetjeni we used to suffer because we could not even buy milk or meat.

“If you wanted meat you would have to find someone who would be going to Plumtree. But here in Botswana you can buy anything you want.

“The problem would be if you do not have money, but necessities are accessible,” he adds.

People from Jetjeni settled in different villages in Botswana because they have relatives all over the northern part of the country including Marapong, Nshakazhogwe, Masunga, Sikakangwe, Chilagwane, Nswazwi and other villages.

— Mmegi