Botswana: Ori Acquires Mpho Books

Maun — University of Botswana, through its Okavango Research Institute (ORI) is in the process of acquiring the late Motsamai Mpho's library collection.

In an interview, ORI library manager, Benjamin Thupe said Mpho's collection was significant and unique from other ORI collections with its rich political ideologies.

Initially, Thupe said ORI had anticipated that Mpho's literary collection must be resourceful, a hypothesis, which was proven through literary findings by a University of Botswana (UB) archivist.

He noted that the findings by UB senior archivist, Molebelli Botlhole recommended that Mpho's collection be acquired.

Thupe said the acquisition of the collection was at an advanced stage as the books and periodicals were assessed and listed by the university after a request to the family to donate the collection to ORI in 2014 was successful.

Thupe said ORI's intention was to establish a Motsamai Mpho quarter where his collection of literature and pictures would be displayed for easy access by the public.

Thus, he said ORI was requesting for donations to ensure that the exercise becomes a success.

Also, he said they intend to repackage the collection.

According to archivist's report, Mpho's books were in a bad state.

He said Mpho had a collection on Russia's political ideologies and on community activisim.

ORI, he said recognised Mpho as its extra ordinary member and awarded him as a prize in 2007.

Some of Mpho's accolades for his contributions to Botswana and regional politics saw him being bestowed with Botswana's highest honour for Meritorious Service to the nation by former president Sir Ketumile Masire while the South African government awarded him the 'Order of the Companions of Oliver Tambo', an honour awarded for his role in the battle against apartheid.

Mpho, who is the founder of the Botswana People's Party and Botswana Independent Party, served as Member of Parliament for Okavango between 1969 and 1979.

Mpho was also African National Congress (ANC) activist while he was a student in South Africa.

Before then, he was a herdboy until the age of 16 and started schooling aged 17 with the help of his uncle.

He attended school in Maun before continuing at Tiger Kloof Secondary School in South Africa at the age of 21.

After completing his Form 3 in 1944, he went back to Maun, where he was instrumental in mobilising Wayei people against tribal suppression from Batawana.

But he later returned to South Africa seeking employment and joined ANC as a member of the youth league in 1952.

His activism in the ANC saw him charged with treason in 1956 with 60 others; the first of 156 activists on the treason trial that ran from 1956-1960.

He was released in 1960 and was deported to then Bechuanaland.

After returning to his home country, he formed the first active party, the then Bechuanaland People's Party (BPP), with the aim to end colonialism and improve the lives of Batswana like other parties in that era.

He then recruited Kgalemang Motsete to join BPP, who then became its president.

Motsete then recruited Phillip Matante, who became BPP's vice president.

In 1962, BPP split due to factions and Mpho formed Botswana Independence Party and was elected the first Member of Parliament for Okavango.

Mpho has been credited for introducing the name Botswana from Bechuanaland since he called his party, Botswana Independence Party.

Mpho passed on November 28, 2012, aged 91.

Source : BOPA

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