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The Roots of Botswana Nationalist Politics (Part 4)

Jeff Ramsay
BUILDERS OF BOTSWANA

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.

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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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Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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