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Peep inside Tonota village of scribes

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Located 30 kilometres south of the city of Francistown, Tonota has produced a sizeable pool of jornos compared to many villages in Botswana.

Being a journalist myself, this observation might be biased, but looking at the trend in newspapers, the airwaves (both radio and TV), the observation looks not too farfetched.

The bylines and voices of the sons and daughters of the ‘Land of Manyonyomane’ continue to dominate local newspapers and airwaves.

Although some may have passed on over the years, the nation remains blessed as the majority of these harbingers of news are still alive and plying their trade in the media industry.

It therefore would not be amiss for one to say the children of Tonota, TNT as the village is affectionately called by those whose heart strings it tags, will go into the annals of the history of the republic among profound movers and shakers within the media space.

Surely theirs is a history that will be read by many long after they have gone.

Quick to come into one’s mind are personages such as Seatholo Tumedi, Kgosinkwe Moesi, father/daughter combo of Dyniscious and One Rabantheng), Abraham Motsokono, Motshegetsi Masoba, Dikarabo Ramadubu, Edward Robert, Spencer Mogapi, Neo Morakanyane (now deceased), Chedza Simon, Pako Teita, Tshoganetso Mokowe, Goweditswe Kome, Leatile Chamo, Mmoloki Mothibi, Oteng Mokowe, Keneilwe Ramphotho, the list is long.

Interestingly, One seems to have followed in her father’s footsteps. Dyniscious Rabantheng was a news reader at Radio Botswana and at one stage a training coordinator for the then Department of Information and Broadcasting. Masoba was also a Radio Botswana news reader, while Motsokono was a reporter for Mmegi newspaper.

Moesi was at some point the editor of the DailyNews and produced the newspaper’s Ga go ope corner, before moving to Guardian and Mmegi newspapers respectively.

Ramadubu is the deputy editor of the Guardian/Sun newspapers, while Robert used to be the Editor of the DailyNews before moving to the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services as communications officer.

The late Morakanyane was a reporter at Palapye Information Office, while Simon is the founder of the newspaper, The Law Today. At some point, he worked for

The Voice newspaper before joining government as a private secretary to the then Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Mr Thapelo Olopeng.

Ms Mokowe is a photo-journalist with Botswana Press Agency (BOPA) while Kome works for BOPA as a reporter based in the second city. Mr Chamo, who called it a day two years ago, was the Bureau Chief-Northern region in Francistown.

Mothibi, aka ‘Smallboy’ was a host for Radio Botswana’s Masa-A-Sele morning programme and is now an editor at Botswana Television, while Mr Teita, one of Btv pioneers, is the station’s cameraman.

Veteran journo Chamo concurs that indeed TNT has over the years been blessed with a pool of trained journalists.

“Those that I remember then are Dyniscious Rabantheng, Abraham Motsokono and Motshegetsi Masoba. These three veteran journalists are still alive as I speak to you,” he added.

“If there was a journalism school in Tonota, that could explain the reason why we have many journalists in the village, but we do not have one.

Maybe it is a coincidence,” he added. The other theory maybe that those who came later followed on the footsteps of their predecessors.

However, Chamo explained that Tonota was blessed to have people of such calibre because being a journalist came with many advantages for the village.

He said journalists provided a platform for debate between government and public, adding that Tonota stood a chance of benefiting from this pool of journalists in terms of civic journalism.

“They can also group themselves and come up with a project - maybe adopt one local school and start a journalism club, where they teach pupils the tools of the trade,” he added.

On the other hand, he explained that schools should also seek help from such journalists to provide free motivational speeches on media studies because journalism is about communication and writing.

Kgosi Bokamoso Radipitse of Tonota is also happy that his village is so much endowed with many journalists, despite its small size and population, compared to big villages such as Molepolole, Kanye, and Serowe.

“This is a blessing,” said the youthful traditional leader, who is also an avid reader of newspapers.

“They are represented in all types of media, be it print, television or radio, and I feel honoured whenever I see the work they authored,” he said.

He said his favourite writer was Mogapi, whom he said always engaged readers with his writings.

He also said Mothibi, partnering with Thuso Letlhoma aka Thusoski, on Masa a Sele morning breakfast show, used to be a cut above the rest.

Kgosi Radipitse further stated that nowadays, the focus has  slightly shifted from conventional journalism to development journalism, which is practiced mostly in developing countries.

He said he had no doubt that if these journalists could group themselves, they could come up with a viable project such as a community radio station, that could also help create employment for the unemployed youth.

Small as it is, Tonota, has not just produced a large pool of journalists, but the village has over the years produced people in the high echelons of power, including cabinet ministers.

During the 11th Parliament, the village boasted two cabinet ministers namely; the then minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Kenneth Matambo as well as the then area MP and former Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Mr Thapelo Olopeng. Ends