Writes Tjonane Matla
Sir Ketumile Quett Masire, former Botswana President who was also renowned as the “Master Farmer” in his own country is no more with us on the mother earth. On the other hand and almost concurrently, Lesotho’s Unrecognised Genius, Farmer and Lifetime Appropriate Technology Advocate Sekoja Phakisi perished a sudden and shocking death related to heart problems.
It should not really surprise our readers why we combine both obituaries in the same article. On Saturday the 12th April 2014, the Silo crew took off to Mmamashia, hardly 15 km Northeast of Gaborone to witness a World Class Embryo Transfer at the Artificial Insemination and Semen Collection Centre with Sekoja Phakisi who was received as a Very Important Person by Impact Genetics Breeder Principal Monty Chiepe. It was at this ceremony that the unrecognised intellect, who is perceived by his own Mokhotlong people as trouble maker and chatter box was allocated a seat in the high table where he was seated with Sir Ketumile Masire, Kgosi Nyalala Pilane and Botswana’s Minister of Agriculture Christiaan de Graaff.
The Master Farmer
“This is a very excellent private initiative. We, while in Government, introduced a policy enabling this in 1965. I then sent 100 heifers for insemination centre, and we trained our own inseminators at our farms.
My brother (Peter Masire) on the other hand did a marvellous job, he literally lived at the cattle post, where his family paid him a visit during holidays and weekends. It was at a very early age that his children adapted to the farming systems.
No wonder he succeeded so much. His sons are a source of innovative and modern farming. This I regard as one of the ways in which farmers could pass wealth properly to the next generations; but we still have to find other ways of incorporating our children into farming and making them have passion for farming.
The problem is that other farmers would farm at the cattle post during the week and go to town during weekends and their children grew up without a touch / experience of farming”. Sir Ketumile Masire commented during an interview with The Silo Editor – Tjonane Matla
Unrecognised Genius, Farmer and Lifetime Appropriate Technologist
“Morena, we need to make our people realise that we can no longer survive with wool and mohair only. If we ignore the current Proclamation of 1952 – Importation and Exportation of Livestock Animals as is, who are we really leaving the red meat market to?
We have to lobby the authorities and at the same time teach our people to diversify. In my own district Mokhotlong, our fellow farmers and extension officers classify me as trouble maker simply because I breed Dorn Merino. They do not really see a bigger picture, it is for that reason that I am engaging with you, so that you publish these views and we send them across for debate within Lesotho Authorities and the Farming Community, we need to seriously diversify into red meat production. Soon the Phase II of the highlands water project shall be in operation, and the biggest question shall remain, who is going to supply the camping construction workers with red meat?”
Unlocking the farmers bottlenecks
The Silo Expo 2015 was themed ‘Unlocking the farmers’ bottlenecks due to pressure and lobbying of the late Sekoja Phakisi. It is of paramount importance to disclose that the Botswana trip was arranged and sponsored by Sekoja Phakisi as a concerned lobbyist, and this trip followed and was followed again by a series of other study tours that were meant for the editor to publish articles that could change Lesotho’s future and role in agriculture. There were several trips to Mokhotlong and some to South Africa and to disclose but one, earlier this year Sekoja made arrangements for the Editor to be part of Sparta day.
It would really be very unfair to the young people in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho if we do not disclose that, the net result of our invitation to present in both the Upper House of Senate and National Assembly of Lesotho on the theme ‘Unlocking the farmers’ bottlenecks was a result of Sekoja Phakisi’s forever consistent efforts of putting this magazine on top of the game. May his soul and those of other Christians who parted from this world rest in peace.