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An activist with a purpose

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An activist with a purpose
An activist with a purpose

The #IShallNotForget Activist Movement is now a well known campaign which has been on both mainstream and social media platforms since news broke in late April that a Sebina councillor had impregnated a school girl.

Determined to send a strong message and end sexual abuse against minors, Batswana have taken to the streets, gone to court, worn the blue ribbon which symbolizes the campaign while some have even spent hours in police custody.

While it is a group of concerned citizens, there is no doubt that there is an individual who mooted the idea, sold it to others and before they knew it, it had gone viral.

The brains behind the movement in this case is Tumi Mohoasa, a human rights activist, blogger and writer who prefers to express herself through writing.

She has written a book which will be published once she is confident that it is ready for the world.

Mohoasa is also well travelled and has worked at Lentswe la rona in Senegal, Kenya and Argentina.

She is also an ambitious business woman with a Bachelors Degree in Social Sciences, and also studied sociology and French. Interestingly Mohoasa is fluent in French.

The Voice reporter, Onneile Setlalekgosi caught up with the vibrant activist to learn more about her and the campaign which has put her under the spotlight.

Q. Let’s start with the name behind the campaign, #IShallNotForget, what inspired it?

The movement started after the infamous Sebina saga where councillor Kemmonye Amon was accused of impregnating a school girl.

After the story broke, we formed a group called Women and Men against sexual abuse of children with Sethomo Ngatane.

We however have many other team players behind the movement.

What also angered us most is the alleged facebook conversation between Amon and  Fidelis Molao where they were quoted saying Batswana forget easily.

So we are saying no, contrary to what they think, we shall not forget.

Q. Why the hashtag on the campaign name?

We know about hashtag and how it works on social media so we decided to add that to the movement name so it goes viral.

The name is now so popular that most people refer to us as #IShallNotforget group.

Q. Are you a registered organisation or the campaign is only within the parameters of social media?

We are a social media based campaign and the intention is to reach out to every part of Botswana even to people in areas where social media is not so popular.

Q. You seem to be passionate about this campaign, have you ever experienced any form of abuse?

No, I have never experienced any form of abuse.

I remember when we came for the first movement meeting on May 8, the first lady who joined me shared the despicable things she had seen while growing up.

I was lucky not to have seen or experienced any abuse while growing up.

But I remember reading some stories that people shared on social media, they were gruesome and heart wrenching and I said to myself it could be my child, or mother’s child or anyone, it could come to me in another way.

Q. We have seen the campaign going to court, people wearing branded t-shirts and carrying placards. Who is financing the campaign?

There is no particular financier, the movement has been a success because people believe in it, people actually know abuse happens, people are enraged and are aware that what we are doing is good.

For example, we did not have any legal fees when we went to court, but men and women of stature came forward and promised to take a bullet for us.

It was amazing in that regard, people are ready and they see the campaign as their fight too but not individual’s, and it is really helping the campaign sustain itself.

People voluntarily offer us many different things, there is no cost to us in anyway.

An activist with a purpose
LEADING THE CAUSE: Mohoasa

Q. You’ve been saying ‘us’ does the campaign have teams already?

We have a task team and a logistics team and other people who chip in to ask how they can help.

We are many, it’s not even about who works harder than the other, every Motswana is concerned.

Q. Back to the Sebina saga which triggered this movement, the accused councillor has refused to step down, what’s your take in it?

It is only proper that he steps down until the matter has been settled because one remains a suspect until it is proven otherwise.

This is why we are also petitioning the Ministry of Education for junior minister Molao to step down.

It is mind blowing for somebody to continue being in office while there are allegations of this magnitude.

Q. What exactly do you want to achieve with #IShallNotForget movement?

What we want to achieve is big and it’s going to take a long time.

But it starts with stakeholders who should come on board.

Parents should condemn abuse in their homes.

At times children are abused right under the nose of their parents and guardians and the perpetrator is never brought to book.

We also have the service providers, the police, who are first place of contact.

Police re-abuse people in that at times people are not assisted well.

Systems are in place, but we should look into whether they are doing what they are supposed to do.

The law also has loopholes, we have to harmonize the child act and the penal code.

Child act says a child is someone who is under 18 yet the penal code says a child is anyone under 16 and that if someone cannot vote they are not ready for sex either.

Q. Any plans of partnering with well established NGO’s?

Yes, we are planning on working with people already on the ground dealing with similar issues.

Q. How best can a girl child be protected?

A girl child needs to be empowered.

Culture often breeds situations that promote sexual abuse of children and some of the things should be seriously looked into.

Child marriages should be abolished.

#IShallNotForget

Q. Is the #IShallNotForget movement affiliated to any political party?

No, although some politicians say we are influenced by opposition parties, but that’s not true.

Q. Any kids?

I am a proud mother of two beautiful children.

Q. We are approaching weekend, any plans for Friday?

I will be leaving for Tanzania, to celebrate my birthday.