When Margret Ludo Mosojane joined the tribal administration as a presiding officer 16 years ago, little did she know that her new job was a call from the Divine.
She retired a few weeks ago at the age of 60, but during her tenure Mosojane became a household name and Tati-Town customary court was more like a counselling centre where problems and disputes could be resolved and handled with the compassion and urgency they deserved. Certainly there were many who thanked God for her presence there.
Operating from the cramped conditions of one of the old caravans that housed the Tati-Town customary court, the former president was a beacon of hope for the extensive community she served. Frank and fair, she gained a reputation for her ability to solve problems with her distinctive brand of wisdom that mixed the traditional with the modern, justice with mercy and common sense with practical application.
Looking back over her career she admits that when she applied for the post of Customary Court President, she didn’t see it as a long-term move.
“My plan was to try it for a short time before moving on to do other things. Three months later I had become aware that this was no ordinary job, but instead a calling from my Maker.
I loved what I was doing so much that I knew it would be my life’s work and was most grateful to be given the opportunity to make a diff erence in the community,” said Mosojane.
The mother of four explained that in taking up the post she brought to the job experience gained as a politician and Deputy Mayor with the BPP and as president of YWCA Botswana. In that time she had the chance to travel abroad, including visits to Finland, Korea and Norway where she was enlightened on issues regarding the challenges that woman and the girl child encountered in society.
“I was sponsored by UNFPA to train in areas of HIV/AIDS preventive therapy and productive health. The training changed my thinking about so many issues. It opened my eyes to new realities and gave me a deeper understanding of situations to which we normally wish as a community to apply simplistic and blanket judgements.”
“This exposure made a deep impression on me. It planted a seed and desire to advocate for peace in my own heart and peace in the hearts of many other people I would later encounter in my day to day work as Court President,” Mosojane explained.
As a relative youngster to the profession she came to understand how the trap of the older generation could distort peace in modern day Botswana.
She quotes the setswana phrase ‘gona le batsadi, ke bone beng ba kgang,’ meaning that there are always elders who will act as custodians of the dispute.
“This statement made lot of sense three decades ago when parents were generally sober and morally upright individuals who were keen to build strong families.
In modern day Botswana people have become individualistic, sometimes unfeeling and unconcerned about others. For this reason I enjoyed using my position in the kgotla to search for practical solutions and come
up with win-win situations.”
She gives the example of a young mother of three who came to the kgotla pregnant and due to give birth to twins. Abandoned by her husband, her in-laws had dismissed her as a witch and she had no parents of her own to turn to for support.
“Realising that this woman was completely alone and stranded, I could not remain impersonal and knew that I had to help.”
It was not the fi rst time that Mosojane had to dip into her own family funds for the sake of a client.
She took on the role of guardian and brought her maternity clothes and food. She then took the time to trace the young woman’s relatives who eventually agreed to help out.
“For me it was a humbling experience, but just being able to help was a reward in itself, especially when she later came to see me with her two healthy babies.”
Despite personal challenges in her own family life, her willingness to help others never faltered even when some disgruntled clients threatened her with lightning strikes and snake bites.
“I was blessed with the love and support of my best friend, who also happens to be my husband in a marriage that has lasted for the last 36 years. Being married to a lawyer and High Court Judge was a tremendous help in dealing with some challenging legal issues.”
Now in retirement she is looking forward to spending time in her garden and farm. But Margret Mosojane will not be lost to the public domain.
She has agreed to continue to dispense her unique brand of traditional wisdom by writing a regular column in The Voice. Over the next few weeks she will address issues such as threat to kill, marriage wrecking, the rights of the single dad, the payment of damages, ritual murder, homosexuality and underage sex.