IT can’t be easy Maaparankoe Mahao. This embattled brother of mine has just entered the Guinness book of records; not for his very unkind, unsavoury, insalubrious and totally unacceptable first name.
But for being the first ever soldier to be appointed army commander, survive an assassination attempt the next day (after appointment) before being shuffled to some foreign sabbatical.
Then being unceremoniously fired from the post of army commander without having sat foot in any of the barracks he was supposed to command.
But even more ominous, the brother does not only get fired without setting foot in office, his dismissal gets backdated to the very same day he was appointed.
This mind boggling stuff should surely find a whole page in the Guinness book of records. I am tempted to say that it can only happen in Lesotho. But that would be very unkind to my tormented Kingdom.
We must all take cognisance of the fact that had Ntate Thomas Thabane retained office as premier, Ntate Maaparankoe would be wearing the red, green, gold robes and medals of army commander. Ntate Kamoli would then be suffering exile somewhere in Siberia. But politics being politics, the reversal pertains.
y worry with Ntate Mahao’s first name remains nevertheless. How would he have introduced himself at those much vaunted gatherings of chiefs of defence forces or at any other international gatherings if Ntate Thabane had won power and retained Ntate Mahao as army commander.
I am told that military etiquette demands that when you introduce yourself to others, you mention your rank, first name and surname in full. I once had a very special and rare encounter of meeting that celebrity former head of the United States armed forces, Colin Powell.
This was not at a meeting of military chiefs but at the Washington press club while Powell served as Secretary of State for the second President George Bush. Powell grabbed my hand firmly before muttering in a commanding voice, typical of an accomplished soldier: “I am General Colin Powell …. I am thrilled to meet you….”
This was long after Powell had left the US military. I responded calmly and had a brief chat before the general moved to greet others. I recalled the incident and it has remained stuck in my mind since Ntate Thabane’s ill-fated effort to appoint Ntate Maaparankoe to the helm of the defence force.
I have often worried about how Ntate Maaparankoe would have introduced himself to his international colleagues at any of the international gatherings he would have graced as commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).
Just imagine a meeting of Commonwealth defence chiefs in London and the host approaches Ntate Mahao to say; “I am Nick Carter, the head of the British armed forces and who are you,” to which Ntate would retort: “I am Maaparankoeeee Mahao, the head of the Lesotho Defence Force.”
“Who did you say you are, what’s your first name again?” would be Carter’s and anyone else present’s response. To pronounce this name properly, one must in essence drag the “e” and pronounce it as Maaparankoeeeeee.
What I am trying to say here is that when we Basotho name our children, we forget that some might end up in top positions that take them to far flung foreign lands.
Some might become international operators, making frequent foreign visits in pursuit of their professional endeavours. We Basotho take names for granted. But names are an essential part of everyone’s identity.
It’s thus not proper to give our children such weird names as if they shall forever be confined within the borders of Lesotho. Some of these names are so weird that Basotho cannot comprehend them.
The easier your first name or surname is (but importantly your first name), the more people will remember you and do business with you.
Once you have met new people and gotten to know them, the trend is to address each other by your first names.
Imagine if Ntate Maaparankoe was a Wall Street banker, where everything is done on a first name basis. He would have to forfeit a great number of clients as no one would be able to say his name.
Another top soldier who experienced immense difficulties with a weird first name was General Musungwagava Zvinavashe, the now late commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF). Because of persistent problems in remembering and calling his first name, Zvinavashe changed it to Vitalis.
If Ntate Thabane had won and Maaparankoe had stayed at the helm of the LDF, I would have petitioned the courts to force this brother to change his first name to Maps or Mappy. Mappi or Mapaps would also do.
As readers of this column know, I am not only immensely fluent in writing and speaking the Queen’s language, my first language is Sotho. I am immensely good at it. I taught it in school before joining the media.
But after extensive research, I cannot seem to get what Maaparankoe means. There are lots of many other strange and weird names that Basotho have ascribed to their children.
I shall soon write about these names and their inherent disadvantages if not curses. There is more serious stuff needing immediate comment.
In the meantime, if anything goes wrong, I shall be saying things have gone Maaparankoeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
As we now all know, Ntate Kamoli is back in office. Hate or like him, the man is back. Ntate Kamoli’s comeback was always going to be controversial. ABC and BNP supporters did not want him back because he targeted their leaders.
They want him to answer for a lot of charges including the events of August 30 2014 and those bombings of the houses of Cyclone Tom’s then concubine and Police Commissioner Khothatso Tšooana. But for the DC and LCD supporters, Kamoli is the man.
He is the man who made their return to power possible. In their eyes, he is the natural born army commander.
Proponents of Kamoli’s reinstatement will say it’s an endorsement of a tried and tested soldier, a competent soldier, a determined soldier and a man with nerves of steel.
Opponents of the new coalition government will say Kamoli’s reinstatement is an endorsement for utter impunity, stealth, brawn over reason, violence and skulduggery.
The third school of thought is that Kamoli, Tšooana and Mahao should all not have been returned to the armed forces after their foreign sabbaticals to enable the army and police to start on a clean slate regardless of who formed government after the February 28 elections.
The debate about the merits and demerits of Ntate Kamoli’s re-appointment is thus now academic. The fact is that the man is back in military power. Politicians naturally appoint those who will aid and abet their politics and entrench them in power.
The very essence of crude politics is crude patronage. Which is why if Ntate Thabane was back in power, Ntate Mahao will be army commander. Reason and prudence normally take a back seat in political anointments.
The main question is: What does Kamoli’s reinstatement hold for the future of Lesotho? The answer to this question will depend on Ntate Kamoli himself. There is no doubt that he is now the most powerful man in the country. Probably more powerful than Mr Size Two himself.
Let us speculate, just as an example, that Ntate Kamoli and Ntate Mosisili cross swords one of these fine days as is so often the case in politics. Ntate Kamoli then proceeds to State House (30 August 2014 style) and incinerates Mr Size Two.
Opponents of Ntate Mosisili will simply say to him, with some justification; “you made your own bed, you must now lay on it”. Others will say; “here is a test of your own medicine. Get well soon….”
The only way to avoid all this is for Ntate Kamoli to fully submit himself to civilian authority and to put the interests of this nation and its people ahead of everything else. Scrutator’s simple, personal message to Ntate Kamoli is; subjugate your own individual interests and those of politicians who have appointed you in favour of those of Basotho.
By putting the national interests of Lesotho first, you will win the hearts and minds of those who are violently opposed to your return. What do I mean by this?
Ntate Thabane has fled the country and vowed not to return without SADC safety guarantees, claiming that members of the LDF had planned to waylay and kill him.
Thabane has specifically claimed in media interviews that now that you Ntate Kamoli are back, you bear a grudge against him because he once fired you and you want to kill him. This could all be political bluster.
But sympathisers of Thabane are supporting him on the basis of previous authentic attempts on his life including the events of August 30 2014 and the bombings of his then concubine (now wife)’s home.
Thabane has been resolute in claiming that this bombing was in fact targeted at him. The fall-out over your refusal to handover the suspects to the police is the chief reason of him firing you last year.
My appeal to you, Ntate Kamoli is that please protect both Ntate Mosisili, Ntate Thabane (he is no longer a cyclone). He poses no threat to you) and Ntate Mothetjoa Metsing. These three are the main leaders of Basotho and it’s up to voters to appoint or disappoint them from office.
Thabane and Mosisili have shown exceptional statesmanship in exchanging power peacefully. You as army commander must be resolute in ensuring the protection of the will of the people.
We should all never blind ourselves to reality on the altar of expediency. Ntate Thabane and his ally, Thesele ‘Maseribane, won the most constituency seats in the February 28 2015 polls — a total of 41 out of the 80 contested seats.
In fact were it not for the mathematical gymnastics of the proportional representation system, they could have formed government (albeit with the slimmest majority).
The ABC is the only party to have experienced massive growth from 17 constituencies in 2007 at its formation, to 25 in 2012 and 40 in 2015. This is plain reality.
If anything were to happen to Ntate Thabane in the form of assassination as he claims, I shudder to think what will happen to this country which is currently split right through the middle in terms of support for Mosisili/metsing and Thabane/maseribane.
Civil war will be an understatement. Even if Ntate Thabane is killed by an ordinary criminal, chances are that his supporters will point a finger at the LDF.
This, for me, is even more reason why you ( Ntate Kamoli) should ensure that Ntate Thabane is fully protected, so is Mosisili and Metsing.
Let Cyclone Tom die a natural death via old age or sickness when his time comes. The years are passing fast and he is already 75 years of age (assuming his age was correctly captured by his parents at birth).
The man is too handsome and looks much younger. He looks like he is in his early 30s but nature is nature and it ultimately takes its course without need to fire guns.
Alternatively, let Ntate Thabane die a natural political death. That is assuming Mr Size Two and Kingmaker Metsing use the advantage of incumbency and woo back all the supporters they lost to the ABC.
Finally, I urge you Ntate Kamoli not to harbour any motives of vengeance against any other ABC/ BNP supporters or any Mosotho who has crossed your path for whatever reason.
‘Maseribane claims that a hit list of targets for elimination has been drawn. We have already suffered a large share of bad publicity abroad.
We can’t afford more. We need peace and development. If such a hit list indeed exists, let it be found and trashed.
The army must protect everyone on that hit list. Protect all of us and allow us to prosper in peace and tranquillity.
Without peace, everything becomes Maparankooeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee ee!
Lieutenant General tlali kamoli