Describing himself as a former ‘Renegade Bad Boy,’ Swift Mpoloka has ultimately grown into the big brother he wishes he had growing up in Gaborone where he was seduced by the life of alcohol, money flashing, womanizing and drugs.
Now a Motivational Speaker, born-again Christian, husband, father of two and Founder of Pula Sports Development Association, Mpoloka sits with down with Voice Reporter, Lame Modise in a tell-all attempt to save a life where ever possible.
Q. When did the ‘Renegade Bad Boy’ lifestyle begin?
A. It all began in 2002. I got introduced to the flashy life of drugs, alcohol, spinning cars and drugs; I did cocaine and ecstasy amongst many others.
I was instantly enthralled by the popularity I gained mostly from the association with the crowd I hung out with.
I honestly believed it was the best way to live.
Q. How long did you live the life of drugs and alcohol?
A. From 2002 to 2012. For ten years, it was a very long unending party.
It’s really terrible that I don’t remember most of the stuff that went on in those ten years.
They went by so fast.
Q. What was your turning point?
A. The sad reality of the life I was living came to me after I tragically lost a friend to drugs.
He had been out doing drugs; unfortunately, he overdosed and tried to drive home and got involved in a car accident.
That really knocked some sense into me.
I realized that one of the days it could be me and decided to get sober.
Q. Apart from nearly dying from the use of drugs, are there any health effects that have risen from your drug use?
A. Luckily not.
I thank God for the mercies he has shown in my life.
I am not HIV positive despite the reckless sexual behavior I used to engage in after taking drugs.
Hopefully, I bailed out on time before any of my internal organs got damaged.
Q. Are you sober now?
A. Yes, and I have been sober since four and a half years ago.
I now have the responsibility of a growing family, two beautiful children and their mother, Mellissa Roberts Mpoloka.
They have really helped me become a better version of myself and I love them for the role they play in keeping me grounded.
Q. You found God, you are now a born-again-Christian, how did that come about?
A. After the death of my friend, I realized that I was faced with either one of the two, an early grave or a life of hopelessness- living in the darkest places of my existence till I died.
Both options did not seem enticing. I decided immediately that it was not what I wanted and therefore started on the journey to quit.
Q. Don’t you ever bump into your former drug dealers, aren’t they mad at you for quitting drugs?
A. Surprisingly drug-dealers are very compassionate people. I have had them congratulate me on leaving drugs and they also encourage me to stay off them.
Q. You obviously went into the world of motivational speaking to try and highlight the dangers of drug abuse to the nation, what do you think is the cause of young people going into drugs?
A. Honestly, we do not have enough role models for the young people in this country.
We have to go back to the family and try to raise respectful boy-children.
They have to understand that being cool is not buying alcohol and engaging in risky behavior such as sex and spinning cars and doing drugs.
Q. Where have you held motivational talks?
A. I have held countless talks with people of all ages though my focus is on the youth.
The recent talk I did was through an invite by the First National Bank to sensitize their employees on drug use.
I have also held talks at Sir Seretse Khama Junior Secondary School and with Bontleng youth, who I work with most of the time.
Q. Don’t you ever feel embarrassed talking about your past in front of total strangers?
A. What’s there to be afraid of, if I keep it to myself, someone in the same place I was years ago might think there is no one who has gone through what they are going through and never even try to get out of the grasp of alcoholism and drugs.
It is not easy talking about it because I realize now, the dangerous life I led. Back then, all seemed hopeless.
So if it helps someone, why not just talk about it?
Q. It is my understanding that you have a project at Bontleng.
Would you please share the work you have done with and for the youth of Bontleng?
A. As the founder and Chairperson of Pula Sports Development Association, I led an initiative to erect a park with a Futsal (a five aside hard surface sports arena for football, netball, and basketball) in Bontleng in the open space near Kofifi Bars.
The park named First Bontleng Park is the first of the off-grid parks the association is looking to erect around the city.
Q. Why parks?
A. The shortage of recreational spaces for youth in the country and the high cost of alcohol are the two main contributors to the excessive drug use in the country.
We believe if youth had clean, neutral places to go to -recreational parks in this case- they would find more productive ways of having fun and building their sporting abilities.
Q. Are you targeting specific places for these ‘off-grid’ parks?
A. Yes. We are looking at lower income communities since some of the children in these communities have no access to sporting infrastructure located in malls across the country.
By bringing these parks into their communities, we are actually exposing them to a different form of recreation instead of going into alcohol and drug abuse.
Q: Apart from motivational speaking and erecting parks for recreational sports activities, what other projects are you working on?
A: Thank you for that question, I am actually working with a couple friends of mine Timothy Sebolao and Thabiso Mauco.
We are registering Nkgonne Mentorship Trust, and we hope to have finalized everything by the third quarter of 2017.
Q. What do you intend to do with the Trust; I understand ‘Nkgonne’ means older sibling in Setswana?
A. The entity will be providing big-brother services to young boys by respectable and responsible men in the society through volunteerism and philanthropy.
This initiative was prompted by the fact that growing up, I was in short of good mentors who could have led me down a different path from the one I took, so we hope to help young boys by linking them with ‘big-brothers’ and sisters, who are not necessarily related to them who will help them make better decisions for their futures.
Q. Speaking about raising a responsible boy-child, what is your take on the recent event at the Gaborone Bus Rank where a young lady was stripped naked and hurled insults at by a mob of men?
A. That incident was very unfortunate. As men, we need to understand that we are super-heroes to our kids and we need to show women more respect.
Please let’s stop hurting our women. That is appalling behavior that needs to stop.
Q. You speak strongly about protecting and taking care of women, share your thoughts on the recent #MenAreTrash campaign on social media?
A. It is the sad reality that in this day and age women are subjected to all sorts of injustices. In my experience, I have subjected women to some kind of injustice in one way or the other, whether intentional or accidental.
I have changed. The reformed druggie that I am refuses to have all men painted with the same brush.
I believe if I could transform from the dark person I was, then anyone can change.
Q. You seem really heavily invested in this issue, what is your main concern?
A. Your observation is the right one missy, I’m really invested in this issue because I have a year-old-daughter, and I cringe every time just thinking of all the prejudice women face in this world.
Q. Thank God it’s Friday. What do you have planned for this weekend?
A. There is actually a couple of events I’m attending.
I’ll be supporting my wife and countless women at the “We Wear What We Want” march for women’s right to wear what they want and feel free to go anywhere.
Another is a Spin City event at Fairgrounds where a client of mine is a sponsor.
After all that, I am going home to my lovely family.