Tshepo Molatedi

STEPS Facilitator Tshepo Molatedi is no longer with us physically, but will forever live in the hearts of all those who knew and loved him.

Sadly, on 23 October he passed on and was buried on 29 October at his home village, Kanye.

He will no doubt be dearly missed. There was a Mrs Gregory in Orapa back in the day, who used to insist that we should give people their fl owers when they’re still alive and can smell the flowers’ fragrance.

As human beings we have this very disgusting habit of disrespecting others or denying them our love when they are still alive, and then turning around and ‘showing’ them all the love and respect after they die.

I’m able to write this tribute because I never forgot Mma Gregory’s words and I know I did give Tshepo his ‘flowers’ when he was still alive i.e. appreciation for all the help he gave me…and above all, respect.

Strangely, at his funeral people who judged him and disrespected him when he was alive suddenly appointed themselves the guardians of good morals and accused others of disrespect.

Such hypocrisy! I have often wondered why people tend to ‘love and respect’ someone more when s/he’s dead, than they did when the person was alive. Do we really expect the dead to appreciate the love and respect we only give to them after they pass on? It just doesn’t make any sense.

Tshepo was not a wealthy man by earthly standards but he was a very rich man in his own way; he was a man of the people.

He loved adventure and travelling and knew how to connect with people from all walks of life.

Whether he was travelling on holiday or for business he was always ready to get the very best out of every journey, and every trip meant more friends. Simply put, Tshepo was a people magnet.

Because of his loving and caring nature, Tshepo was the kind of person who could relate to people and easily connect with them regardless of their background. He had a special connection with children and it was an absolute joy to watch him communicate with them.

Tshepo was a great communicator and when it came to strangers, he took the saying that “A stranger is just a friend you don’t know” to a whole new level.

I travelled with him to places like Victoria Falls, Mabutsane and Rakops and was always amazed by how he would chat up complete strangers and they would warm up to him immediately.

If we were passing through some remote village and needed to fi nd something, someone or someplace, Tshepo knew how to get information out of people in record time! He always had that glint in his eye and when he smiled he looked like he knew a secret.

I supposed he did know a secret…the secret to genuine and lasting friendships. Tshepo travelled the length and breadth of this country and seemed to have friends everywhere.

PEOPLE’S MAGNET: Tshepo and his winning smile (RIGHT) With Bashi Sengwaketse at Victoria Falls

He enjoyed chatting on the phone and liked to keep his friends updated of his whereabouts.
When we were travelling and he was not the one driving, Tshepo would constantly be on the phone telling someone somewhere which village he was passing through, where he was from, where he was travelling to and which friend/s he had bumped into along the way!

Whenever we had car trouble, it didn’t matter where we were; Tshepo would say something like “Go na le mothaka yo mongwe jaana…” (“There’s a certain guy…”); he would simply call for help on his mobile phone and we would soon be on our way again. He knew people in every district; mechanics, government offi cials, businessmen, hawkers, the unemployed and company CEOs alike.

There’s a saying that anyone can be polite to a king, but it takes a civilized person to be polite to a beggar.

Tshepo had a character that was not only admirable but enviable; he was the kind of person who knew how to be polite to a beggar, something a lot of so called ‘civilized’ people will never know how to do.

STEPS Southern Africa and the facilitators’ team in Botswana send their heartfelt condolences to Tshepos’s twin brother Keolopile, his family, relatives and his legion of friends.

May his soul rest in Peace.