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The Roots of Botswana Nationalist Politics (Part 4)

Jeff Ramsay

The Central African Federation

Last week we observed that in June of 1953, Roy Wellensky, who was at the time the defacto deputy leader as well as principal architect of the then newly formed Central African Federation, held informal discussions with the Bakwena Kgosi Kgari aSechele II, while the two were returning by plane from Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in London.

As the territory’s senior royal, Kgari had represented Bechuanaland at the ceremony, alongside Moshoeshoe II of Lesotho and Sobhuza II of Swaziland.

Further to the above, in November 1953 Bathoen II, along with Kgari and the Balete Kgosi Mokgosi, took part in an official tour of Eastern and Central Africa, which reportedly reinforced their favourable impressions of the Federation.

A September 1953 assessment further reports that Bathoen II had initially been attracted by the Federation’s potential, while attending the Central African Rhodes Centenary Exhibition in Bulawayo.

Held from June through August 1953 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Cecil Rhodes’ birth, the Exhibition has been described as the most “grandiose and momentous social event in the annals of settler rule in Southern Rhodesia” if not imperial Africa.

Officially opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (i.e. the then recently widowed mother to the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II) on the 3rd of July 1953, the Exhibition occupied 50 acres, which incorporated numerous industrial and commercial exhibits as well as pavilions from 18 African colonial jurisdictions, including the High Commission Territories.

As might be expected, the grandest was the ‘Pavilion of the Rhodesias’, celebrating the Federation’s birth. Along with much of the rest of the Exhibition, it promoted the supposedly progressive legacy of both the Rhodesias and the British royal family as being central to a regional identity that all races could embrace. 

This vision was portrayed in the imperialist pseudo-history of Cecil Rhodes supposed belief in “equal rights for all civilized men” as well as the image of Queen Victoria (Mmamosadinya) as the great protector.

According to an official publication in honour of the Queen Mother’s presence:

“Since the days of Queen Victoria, the British Throne has represented protection against injustice to millions of Africans.

All the thousands of Africans who flocked to see the Queen Mother and [her accompanying younger daughter] Princess Margaret during their tour of Southern Rhodesia in July, 1953, must now feel that this protective spirit is still very much alive in the Royal family today.


In a subsequent, 5th of January 1954, letter Kgosi Bathoen II, as Chairman of the African Advisory Council (AAC) wrote to the then leading member of the European Advisory Council (EAC), Louis Glover, stating: "There is no doubt you and I and in fact most of the Chiefs are in favour of Federation, but how can we make this known?


For his part, as the owner of Broadhurst Farm (the foundations of his house are located behind Tsholofelo Community Hall), Glover was for many years considered to be the territory’s leading white liberal.

As a Setswana speaker, during the First World War he had served as an officer to 555 Protectorate Batswana of the South African Native 5th Battalion, who were deployed (1917-18) against the Germans along the French-Belgium border; his senior Motswana NCO being the then future Bakwena Kgosi Sebele II.

In consultation with Bathoen II, and further encouraged by Tshekedi Khama, throughout 1954-55 Glover from his side actively took up the matter with Wellensky, the Protectorate Government and those he considered to be sympathetic among his fellow white settlers in the territory.

But, many of the latter were at best lukewarm in their support; with some privately preferring to see the Protectorate’s ultimate incorporation into apartheid South Africa. Such incorporation was openly championed by others opposed to Glover’s initiative.

More critical, however, was the opposition of the Resident Commissioner, Martin Wray, who in a November 1955 meeting warned Glover that agitation to join the Federation would, in his view, incite unwelcome counterclaims from Pretoria.

A confidential February 1955 assessment had concluded that some 90% of the whites at Ghanzi and in the Tuli Block, along with 50% at Gaborone farms and Lobatse, still favoured South African incorporation; while the Federation enjoyed majority support only among whites in the Tati Concession (Northeast District).

London’s emerging concerns about the evolution of the Federation, which dovetailed with growing internal black opposition, also encouraged caution on the part of Wellensky and his colleagues.

For his part Tshekedi, who until his 1959 death arguably remained the Protectorate's leading political personality, had all along recognized the inadequacy of the Federation's qualified African representation.

Like many though, he had initially hoped for an evolution towards a more balanced multi-racial partnership. In this context he tied the possibility of joining the Federation with internal political reform within the Protectorate, more particularly the JAC's replacement by a multi-racial Legislative Council (Legco), as well as up north.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”


Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”


Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.


Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)


Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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