ATI’s Protest Is a desperate cry of every young person in this country.
The Alliance for Progressives -the AP- has reliably been informed that singer and artist Atlasaone Molemogi, popularly known as ATI is in jail for exercising his Constitutionally guaranteed Freedom of Speech as well as the right to protest. This, although not shocking coming from this Government, is a serious cause for concern that must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
Whatever semblance of Free Speech we have is rapidly being criminalized. Just a few months back, when the State of Emergency was introduced as a governing tool, the Government declared that it will now be illegal to say “offensive statements against Government”. Now, a relic law on Protected Places and Areas Act, just like the Sedition law, is being used to vilify journalists and interfere with the people’s right to protest.
The Government needs to be reminded that there is no better way to protest. And should ATI be making you uncomfortable as a citizen, that is exactly the point of a protest. The Government itself is corrupt, a major and material charge than the trumped-up charge against ATI.
At AP we view ATI’s protest as a desperate cry of every young person in this country. We are all tired. And we demand better. We demand better health care. We demand better schools and education where our children do not sit under trees as there is acute shortage of classrooms. We demand employment. We demand fair payment, not slave wages we are exposed to. We demand protection of our children from abuse. We demand an end to violence against women. We demand equal stake in the economy. We demand laws that protect, not oppress. We demand a Constitution that is responsive to our times not this colonial relic. We demand better institutions that guarantee transparency and accountability in governance.
As the AP, we believe strongly that this is what ATI is protesting for, and we plead guilty as well for these are our demands as well. We must all stand up against these injustices by the Government. As Dr Martin Luther King Jr once opined, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” We stand with ATI.
As an artist ATI is fighting for the Creative Arts industry, which has been left to die even before there was coronavirus. There is no ‘such thing as lack of talent in Botswana, but there is lack of attentiveness to showcasing artists and their work. A shift in perspective in approaching the arts in Botswana is necessary to fertilize the growth of creative arts. The AP repeats that the creative industry is a multi-billion-pula Industry with massive employment creation potential.
The Government must #FreeATI and focus on attending to the issues he is raising. If, ATI is not released we call upon Batswana to stand up and join the protest. This is an aggressive attack on our civil liberties.
Phenyo Butale (PhD)