When Jesus was on His earthly mission, and He was on one occasion challenged in the Temple about his origin and accused by the Scribes and Pharisees that He “was a common man and that the Christ would not be like him”, this is how, according to Valtorta (1, pp 464-466), Jesus reacted…..
‘Jesus looks in the direction and says in a loud voice: “So you know Me and you know where I come from? Are you sure? And the little you know, does it not mean anything to you? Does it not confirm the prophecies? But you do not know everything about Me, I solemnly tell you that I did not come by Myself and from where you think that I came. It is the very Truth, Whom you do not know, Who sent Me”
‘A cry of indignation rises from the enemies; Jesus continued: “The very Truth .Whose deeds you do not know. Neither do you know His way, along which I came. Hatred cannot be acquainted with the ways and deeds of Love. Darkness cannot stand the sight of Light. But I know Him Who sent Me because I belong to Him, I am part of Him and one Whole with Him. And He sent Me to fulfil what His Thoughts want”. Said Jesus further:
‘The angels, spiritual creatures, servants of the Most High and His messengers, were created by God, as man, animal and everything that was created. But they were not begotten by God. Because God can beget only another of Himself, as the Perfect One could but beget another Perfect one, another being like Himself, in order not to lower His perfection by begetting a creature inferior to Himself. Now, if God cannot beget the angels or elevate them to the dignity of Sons of His, what will the Son be to Whom He says: “You are My Son. I begot You today”? And of what nature he will be, if begetting Him, God says pointing Him out to His angels: “And let all the angels of God adore Him. And what will this Son be like to deserve to hear the Father say to Him, the Father by Whose grace men can mention His name with their hearts humbled in adoration: “Sit at My right hand and I will make your enemies a footstool for You”? That Son can but be God like His Father, with Whom He shares attributes and power, and with Whom He enjoys the Charity which gladdens them in the ineffable and unknowable love of Perfection itself”. “
‘But if God does not find it appropriate to elevate an angel to the rank of Son, or to be the Messiah and Redeemer, can He therefore elect a man? And could the Redeemer be only the Son of the Father without assuming human nature, but with means and power exceeding human limitations? Are you as a human being and your proud thoughts not upset by such questions which rise towards the realm of Truth, closer and closer to it, and find a reply only in a humble heart full of faith?’
‘Who is to be the Christ? An Angel? More than an angel. A man? More than a man. A God? Yes, a God. But joined to human flesh that it may complete the expiation of the guilty flesh. Everything is to be redeemed through the same matter by which it sinned. So God should have sent an angel to expiate the sins of the fallen angels, to expiate on behalf of Lucifer and his angelic followers. Because as you are aware, Lucifer also sinned. But God did not send an angelic spirit to redeem the angels of darkness.
They did not worship the Son of God, and God does not forgive the sin against His Word begotten of His Love’. But God loves man and when man sinned He sends the Man, the only perfect Man, to redeem man and obtain peace with God. ‘And it is according to justice that only a Man-God may fulfil the redemption of man and appease God’.
‘And the Father and the Son loved and understood each other. And the Father said: “I want”. And the Son said: I want”. And the Son said: “Give me”. And the Father said: “Take”, and this flesh was named Jesus Christ, the Messiah, He Who is to redeem men and lead them to the Kingdom, defeat the demon, crush slavery’.
Jesus loved man so much that he sought and obtained from His Father to sacrifice Himself. He loved man so much that He asked to become Man to save man ,’ to consume all the Sorrow of the world in order to give man eternal salvation’.
Jesus says further to the crowd in the Temple: ‘’To defeat the demon! An angel could not, cannot accomplish what the Son of Man can do. That is why God does not call angels but the Man to accomplish the great work. Here is the Man whose origin you doubt, you deny or are worried about. Here is the Man acceptable to God. The Man representing all His brothers. The man like you in appearance, superior to and different from you by origin, begotten not of man but of God and consecrated to His ministry…”
“Now consider this: God does not choose an angel to be the Messiah and Redeemer, if God did not find it appropriate to elevate an angel to the rank of Son could he ever have said of Man what he said of Him (at his baptism) at the ford of Betharaba two years ago? You heard Him and trembled … because the voice of God is unmistakable, and without His special grace it crushes those who hear it and shakes their hearts. Who is therefore the Man Jesus? Is He perhaps one born of human seed and by the will of Man like all of you? And could the Most High have placed His Spirit to dwell in a body, devoid of grace, like those of men born of canal will?” Obviously not!
It is a common disseminated claim that Mary bore children other than Jesus. To support the claim Gospel accounts from Mathew, John, Acts and Galatians are cited to attest to the notion that Mary bore other children. The children mentioned are four: James, Joseph Simon and Judas. ‘The faithful know through the witness of Scripture and Tradition that Jesus was Mary’s only child’ and that she remained a life- long virgin.
First, let me declare my belief. I am a Roman Catholic who believes that the so-called Jesus brothers were Jesus cousins and that Mary remained a perpetual virgin. I will try to show why. First if you read the Bible closely, you will note that although the Bible talks about “brothers” of Jesus, the Bible also tells us that Joseph was a Nazarite like Jesus. A Nazarite is a Hebrew who has taken special vows of abstinence. In other words Joseph was a celibate. In Volume 1 of Valtorta alluded to above, a whole chapter (Chapter 12 is allotted to the ceremony where Joseph is appointed husband of Mary and another chapter (Chapter 13) to the wedding.
At that engagement ceremony, after the High Priest announced Joseph as the chosen spouse of Mary, the High Priest told Joseph: ‘Mary wishes to inform you of a vow she made’. When the two were left alone after the betrothal ceremony, Joseph confessed to Mary: “I was not expecting to be the chosen one as I am a Nazarite and I have obeyed because it is an order of the Priest, not that I wish to get married”.
So runs the episode further: ‘Mary is moved and looks at Joseph with a face that has become more and more confident and bright. She feels certain of him. . When he says ” I am a Nazarite”, her face becomes bright and She takes courage. She said: “Also, I am all of the Lord, Joseph. I do not know whether the High priest told you… Joseph replied:” He ( the High Priest) only told me that you are good and pure, that you wish to inform me of a vow, and that I must be good to you. Speak, Mary. Your Joseph wants you to be happy in all your desires. I do not love you with my body. I love you with my soul, holy girl given to me by God. Please see in me a father and a brother, in addition to a husband. And open your heart to me as to a father and rely on me as a brother…”
Mary in turn said: “Since my childhood I have consecrated myself to the Lord. I know this is not the custom in Israel. But I heard a voice requesting my virginity as a sacrifice of love for the coming of the Messiah. Israel has been waiting for Him for such a long time! … It is not too much to forgo the joy of being a mother of that!”
‘Joseph gazes at Mary as if he wanted to read her heart then he takes her tiny hands’… and says “I will join my sacrifice to yours and we shall love the Eternal Father so much with our chastity that He will send His Saviour to the world earlier, and will allow us to see His light shining in the world. Come, Mary, Let us go before His House and take an oath that we shall love each other as the angels do…”
Then during the wedding proper, Joseph takes Mary to one side, and says to her:” I have pondered a lot on your vows these last days. I told you that I will share it with you. But the more I think of it, the more I realise that a temporary Nazaritism is not sufficient, even if renewed several times. I have understood you, Mary. I do not yet deserve the word of Light, but a murmur of it comes to me. And it causes me to read your secret, at least in its maim lines. I am a poor ignorant man, Mary. A poor workman. I know nothing of letters and I have no treasures. But I place at your feet my treasure: my absolute chastity”.
Thus, right from the engagement ceremony and the wedding, Joseph had been made aware of Mary as the chosen one for the coming of Jesus into the world and Joseph had entered into a vow with Mary to be holy like angels to await the coming of the Lord. Joseph had pledged himself to absolute chastity even as a husband of Mary.
The Oil and Gas industry has undergone several significant developments and changes over the last few years. Understanding these developments and trends is crucial towards better appreciating how to navigate the engagement in this space, whether directly in the energy space or in associated value chain roles such as financing.
Here, we explore some of the most notable global events and trends and the potential impact or bearing they have on the local and global market.
Governments and companies around the world have been increasingly focused on transitioning towards renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. This shift is motivated by concerns about climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Africa, including Botswana, is part of these discussions, as we work to collectively ensure a greener and more sustainable future. Indeed, this is now a greater priority the world over. It aligns closely with the increase in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing being observed. ESG investing has become increasingly popular, and many investors are now looking for companies that are focused on sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint. This trend could have significant implications for the oil and fuel industry, which is often viewed as environmentally unsustainable. Relatedly and equally key are the evolving government policies. Government policies and regulations related to the Oil and Gas industry are likely to continue evolving with discussions including incentives for renewable energy and potentially imposing stricter regulations on emissions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a strong role. Over the last two years, the pandemic had a profound impact on the Oil and Gas industry (and fuel generally), leading to a significant drop in demand as travel and economic activity slowed down. As a result, oil prices plummeted, with crude oil prices briefly turning negative in April 2020. Most economies have now vaccinated their populations and are in recovery mode, and with the recovery of the economies, there has been recovery of oil prices; however, the pace and sustainability of recovery continues to be dependent on factors such as emergence of new variants of the virus.
This period, which saw increased digital transformation on the whole, also saw accelerated and increased investment in technology. The Oil and Gas industry is expected to continue investing in new digital technologies to increase efficiency and reduce costs. This also means a necessary understanding and subsequent action to address the impacts from the rise of electric vehicles. The growing popularity of electric vehicles is expected to reduce demand for traditional gasoline-powered cars. This has, in turn, had an impact on the demand for oil.
Last but not least, geopolitical tensions have played a tremendous role. Geopolitical tensions between major oil-producing countries can and has impacted the supply of oil and fuel. Ongoing tensions in the Middle East and between the US and Russia could have an impact on global oil prices further, and we must be mindful of this.
On the home front in Botswana, all these discussions are relevant and the subject of discussion in many corporate and even public sector boardrooms. Stanbic Bank Botswana continues to take a lead in supporting the Oil and Gas industry in its current state and as it evolves and navigates these dynamics. This is through providing financing to support Oil and Gas companies’ operations, including investments in new technologies. The Bank offers risk management services to help oil and gas companies to manage risks associated with price fluctuations, supply chain disruptions and regulatory changes. This includes offering hedging products and providing advice on risk management strategies.
Advisory and support for sustainability initiatives that the industry undertakes is also key to ensuring that, as companies navigate complex market conditions, they are more empowered to make informed business decisions. It is important to work with Oil and Gas companies to develop and implement sustainability strategies, such as reducing emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy. This is key to how partners such as Stanbic Bank work to support the sector.
Last but not least, Stanbic Bank stands firmly in support of Botswana’s drive in the development of the sector with the view to attain better fuel security and reduce dependence risk on imported fuel. This is crucial towards ensuring a stronger, stabler market, and a core aspect to how we can play a role in helping drive Botswana’s growth. Continued understanding, learning, and sustainable action are what will help ensure the Oil and Gas sector is supported towards positive, sustainable and impactful growth in a manner that brings social, environmental and economic benefit.
Loago Tshomane is Manager, Client Coverage, Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB), Stanbic Bank Botswana
So, the conclusion is brands are important. I start by concluding because one hopes this is a foregone conclusion given the furore that erupts over a botched brand. If a fast food chef bungles a food order, there’d be possibly some isolated complaint thrown. However, if the same company’s marketing expert or agency cooks up a tasteless brand there is a country-wide outcry. Why? Perhaps this is because brands affect us more deeply than we care to understand or admit. The fact that the uproar might be equal parts of schadenfreude, black twitter-esque criticism and, disappointment does not take away from the decibel of concern raised.
A good place to start our understanding of a brand is naturally by defining what a brand is. Marty Neumier, the genius who authored The Brand Gap, offers this instructive definition – “A brand is a person’s gut feel about a product or service”. In other words, a brand is not what the company says it is. It is what the people feel it is. It is the sum total of what it means to them. Brands are perceptions. So, brands are defined by individuals not companies. But brands are owned by companies not individuals. Brands are crafted in privacy but consumed publicly. Brands are communal. Granted, you say. But that doesn’t still explain why everybody and their pet dog feel entitled to jump in feet first into a brand slug-fest armed with a hot opinion. True. But consider the following truism.
Brands are living. They act as milestones in our past. They are signposts of our identity. Beacons of our triumphs. Indexes of our consumption. Most importantly, they have invaded our very words and world view. Try going for just 24 hours without mentioning a single brand name. Quite difficult, right? Because they live among us they have become one of us. And we have therefore built ‘brand bonds’ with them. For example, iPhone owners gather here. You love your iPhone. It goes everywhere. You turn to it in moments of joy and when we need a quick mood boost. Notice how that ‘relationship’ started with desire as you longingly gazed upon it in a glossy brochure. That quickly progressed to asking other people what they thought about it. Followed by the zero moment of truth were you committed and voted your approval through a purchase. Does that sound like a romantic relationship timeline. You bet it does. Because it is. When we conduct brand workshops we run the Brand Loyalty ™ exercise wherein we test people’s loyalty to their favourite brand(s). The results are always quite intriguing. Most people are willing to pay a 40% premium over the standard price for ‘their’ brand. They simply won’t easily ‘breakup’ with it. Doing so can cause brand ‘heart ache’. There is strong brand elasticity for loved brands.
Now that we know brands are communal and endeared, then companies armed with this knowledge, must exercise caution and practise reverence when approaching the subject of rebranding. It’s fragile. The question marketers ought to ask themselves before gleefully jumping into the hot rebranding cauldron is – Do we go for an Evolution (partial rebrand) or a Revolution(full rebrand)? An evolution is incremental. It introduces small but significant changes or additions to the existing visual brand. Here, think of the subtle changes you’ve seen in financial or FMCG brands over the decades. Evolution allows you to redirect the brand without alienating its horde of faithful followers. As humans we love the familiar and certain. Change scares us. Especially if we’ve not been privy to the important but probably blinkered ‘strategy sessions’ ongoing behind the scenes. Revolutions are often messy. They are often hard reset about-turns aiming for a total new look and ‘feel’.
Hard rebranding is risky business. History is littered with the agony of brands large and small who felt the heat of public disfavour. In January 2009, PepsiCo rebranded the Tropicana. When the newly designed package hit the shelves, consumers were not having it. The New York Times reports that ‘some of the commenting described the new packaging as ‘ugly’ ‘stupid’. They wanted their old one back that showed a ripe orange with a straw in it. Sales dipped 20%. PepsiCo reverted to the old logo and packaging within a month. In 2006 Mastercard had to backtrack away from it’s new logo after public criticism, as did Leeds United, and the clothing brand Gap. AdAge magazine reports that critics most common sentiment about the Gap logo was that it looked like something a child had created using a clip-art gallery. Botswana is no different. University of Botswana had to retreat into the comfort of the known and accepted heritage strong brand. Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital was badgered with complaints till it ‘adjusted’ its logo.
So if the landscape of rebranding is so treacherous then whey take the risk? Companies need to soberly assess they need for a rebrand. According to the fellows at Ignyte Branding a rebrand is ignited by the following admissions :
Our brand name no longer reflects our company’s vision.
We’re embarrassed to hand out our business cards.
Our competitive advantage is vague or poorly articulated.
Our brand has lost focus and become too complex to understand. Our business model or strategy has changed.
Our business has outgrown its current brand.
We’re undergoing or recently underwent a merger or acquisition. Our business has moved or expanded its geographic reach.
We need to disassociate our brand from a negative image.
We’re struggling to raise our prices and increase our profit margins. We want to expand our influence and connect to new audiences. We’re not attracting top talent for the positions we need to fill. All the above are good reasons to rebrand.
The downside to this debacle is that companies genuinely needing to rebrand might be hesitant or delay it altogether. The silver lining I guess is that marketing often mocked for its charlatans, is briefly transformed from being the Archilles heel into Thanos’ glove in an instant.
So what does a company need to do to safely navigate the rebranding terrain? Companies need to interrogate their brand purpose thoroughly. Not what they think they stand for but what they authentically represent when seen through the lens of their team members. In our Brand Workshop we use a number of tools to tease out the compelling brand truth. This section always draws amusing insights. Unfailingly, the top management (CEO & CFO)always has a vastly different picture of their brand to the rest of their ExCo and middle management, as do they to the customer-facing officer. We have only come across one company that had good internal alignment. Needless to say that brand is doing superbly well.
There is need a for brand strategies to guide the brand. One observes that most brands ‘make a plan’ as they go along. Little or no deliberate position on Brand audit, Customer research, Brand positioning and purpose, Architecture, Messaging, Naming, Tagline, Brand Training and may more. A brand strategy distils why your business exists beyond making money – its ‘why’. It defines what makes your brand what it is, what differentiates it from the competition and how you want your customers to perceive it. Lacking a brand strategy disadvantages the company in that it appears soul-less and lacking in personality. Naturally, people do not like to hang around humans with nothing to say. A brand strategy understands the value proposition. People don’t buy nails for the nails sake. They buy nails to hammer into the wall to hang pictures of their loved ones. People don’t buy make up because of its several hues and shades. Make up is self-expression. Understanding this arms a brand with an iron clad clad strategy on the brand battlefield.
But perhaps you’ve done the important research and strategy work. It’s still possible to bungle the final look and feel. A few years ago one large brand had an extensive strategy done. Hopes were high for a top tier brand reveal. The eventual proposed brand was lack-lustre. I distinctly remember, being tasked as local agency to ‘land’ the brand and we outright refused. We could see this was a disaster of epic proportions begging to happen. The brand consultants were summoned to revise the logo. After a several tweaks and compromises the brand landed. It currently exists as one of the country’s largest brands. Getting the logo and visual look right is important. But how does one know if they are on the right path? Using the simile of a brand being a person – The answer is how do you know your outfit is right? It must serve a function, be the right fit and cut, it must be coordinated and lastly it must say something about you. So it is possible to bath in a luxurious bath gel, apply exotic lotion, be facebeat and still somehow wear a faux pas outfit. Avoid that.
Another suggestion is to do the obvious. Pre-test the logo and its look and feel on a cross section of your existing and prospective audience. There are tools to do this. Their feedback can save you money, time and pain. Additionally one must do another obvious check – use Google Image to verify the visual outcome and plain Google search to verify the name. These are so obvious they are hopefully for gone conclusions. But for the brands that have gone ahead without them, I hope you have not concluded your brand journeys as there is a world of opportunity waiting to be unlocked with the right brand strategy key.
Cliff Mada is Head of ArmourGetOn Brand Consultancy, based in Gaborone and Cape Town.
The Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) is the most comprehensive dataset measuring African governance performance through a wide range of 81 indicators under the categories of Security & Rule of law, Participation, Rights & Inclusion, Foundations of Economic Opportunity, and Human Development. It employs scores, expressed out of 100, which quantify a country’s performance for each governance measure and ranks, out of 54, in relation to the 54 African countries.
The 2022 IIAG Overall Governance score is 68.1 and ranks Botswana at number 5 in Africa. In 2019 Botswana was ranked 2nd with an overall score of 73.3. That is a sharp decline. The best-performing countries are Mauritius, Seychelles, Tunisia, and Cabo Verde, in that order. A glance at the categories shows that Botswana is in third place in Africa on the Security and Rule of law; ninth in the Participation, Rights & Inclusion Category – indicating a shrinking participatory environment; eighth for Foundations of Economic Opportunity category; and fifth in the Human Development category.
The 2022 IIAG comes to a sweeping conclusion: Governments are less accountable and transparent in 2021 than at any time over the last ten years; Higher GDP does not necessarily indicate better governance; rule of law has weakened in the last five years; Democratic backsliding in Africa has accelerated since 2018; Major restrictions on freedom of association and assembly since 2012. Botswana is no exception to these conclusions. In fact, a look at the 10-year trend shows a major challenge. While Botswana remains in the top 5 of the best-performing countries in Africa, there are signs of decline, especially in the categories of Human Development and Security & Rule of law.
I start with this picture to show that Botswana is no longer the poster child for democracy, good governance, and commitment to the rule of law that it once was. In fact, to use the term used in the IIAG, Botswana is experiencing a “democratic backsliding.”
The 2021 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) had Botswana at 55/ 100, the lowest ever score recorded by Botswana dethroning Botswana as Africa’s least corrupt country to a distant third place, where it was in 2019 with a CPI of 61/100. (A score closer to zero denotes the worst corrupt and a score closer to 100 indicates the least corrupt country). The concern here is that while other African states are advancing in their transparency and accountability indexes, Botswana is backsliding.
The Transitional National Development Plan lists participatory democracy, the rule of law, transparency, and accountability, as key “deliverables,” if you may call those deliverables. If indeed Botswana is committed to these principles, she must ratify the African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance (ACDEG).
The African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance is the African Union’s principal policy document for advancing democratic governance in African Union member states. The ACDEG embodies the continent’s commitment to a democratic agenda and set the standards upon which countries agreed to be held accountable. The Charter was adopted in 2007 and came into force a decade ago, in 2012.
Article 2 of the Charter details its objectives among others as to a) Promote adherence, by each State Party, to the universal values and principles of democracy and respect for human rights; b) Promote and protect the independence of the judiciary; c) Promote the establishment of the necessary conditions to foster citizen participation, transparency, access to information, freedom of the press and accountability in the management of public affairs; d) Promote gender balance and equality in the governance and development processes.
The Charter emphasizes certain principles through which member states must uphold: Citizen Participation, Accountable Institutions, Respect for Human Rights, Adherence to the principles of the Rule of Law, Respect for the supremacy of the constitution and constitutional order, Entrenchment of democratic Principles, Separation of Powers, Respect for the Judiciary, Independence and impartiality of electoral bodies, best practice in the management of elections. These are among the top issues that Batswana have been calling for, that they be entrenched in the new Constitution.
The ACDEG is a revolutionary document. Article 3 of the ACDEG, sets guidance on the principles that must guide the implementation of the Charter among them: Effective participation of citizens in democratic and development processes and in the governance of public affairs; Promotion of a system of government that is representative; Holding of regular, transparent, free and fair elections; Separation of powers; Promotion of gender equality in public and private institutions and others.
Batswana have been calling for laws that make it mandatory for citizen participation in public affairs, more so, such calls have been amplified in the just-ended “consultative process” into the review of the Constitution of Botswana. Many scholars, academics, and Batswana, in general, have consistently made calls for a constitution that provides for clear separation of powers to prevent concentration of power in one branch, in Botswana’s case, the Executive, and provide for effective checks and balances. Other countries, like Kenya, have laws that promote gender equality in public and private institutions inscribed in their constitutions. The ACDEG could be a useful advocacy tool for the promotion of gender equality.
Perhaps more relevant to Botswana’s situation now is Article 10 of the Charter. Given how the constitutional review process unfolded, the numerous procedural mistakes and omissions, the lack of genuine consultations, the Charter principles could have provided a direction, if Botswana was party to the Charter. “State Parties shall ensure that the process of amendment or revision oftheir constitution reposes on national consensus, obtained, if need be, through referendum,” reads part of Article 10, giving clear clarity, that the Constitution belong to the people.
With the African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance in hand, ratified, and also given the many shortfalls in the current constitution, Batswana can have a tool in hand, not only to hold the government accountable but also a tool for measuring aspirations and shortfalls of our governance institutional framework.
Botswana has not signed, nor has it acceded or ratified the ACDEG. The time to ratify the ACDEG is now. Our Movement, Motheo O Mosha Society, with support from the Democracy Works Foundation and The Charter Project Africa, will run a campaign to promote, popularise and advocate for the ratification of the Charter (#RatifytheCharter Campaign). The initiative is co-founded by the European Union. The Campaign is implemented with the support of our sister organizations: Global Shapers Community – Gaborone Hub, #FamilyMeetingBW, Botswana Center for Public Integrity, Black Roots Organization, Economic Development Forum, Molao-Matters, WoTech Foundation, University of Botswana Political Science Society, Young Minds Africa and Branding Akosua.
Ratifying the Charter would reaffirm Botswana’s commitment to upholding strong democratic values, and respect for constitutionalism, and promote the rule of law and political accountability. Join us in calling the Government of Botswana to #RatifyTheCharter.
*Morena MONGANJA is the Chairperson of Motheo O Mosha society; a grassroots movement advocating for a new Constitution for Botswana. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp 77 469 362.