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The Roots of Botswana Nationalist Politics Part 5: “Seretse Speaks”

Jeff Ramsay

Last week we noted that from the beginning Tshekedi Khama recognized the inadequacy of the Central African Federation's qualified African representation. Like many though, he had initially hoped for an evolution towards a more balanced multi-racial dispensation. In this context he tied the long term possibility of joining the Federation with internal political reform within the Protectorate as well as up north.

In 1952-53 Tshekedi, with Bathoen II and Glover’s support, thus spearheaded calls for a fully fledged Legislative Council or “Legco” in both the African and European Advisory Councils as a step towards internal self-government for the Bechuanaland Protectorate as a whole.

But, before 1958, the British consistently blocked the proposal. In their rejection the colonial authorities cited Legco's supposed costs, a desire to proceed first with the creation of local Tribal Councils, and divided settler opinion. Behind these excuses was London's continued belief in the need to appease Pretoria.

As a way of circumventing opposition to Legco, while promoting inter-merafe unity, in 1954 Tshekedi joined other leading royalists in advocating the formation of a Federated African Authority (FAA), in which Kgosi Kgari would take formal precedence as Kgosi eKgolo in recognition of his great grandfather Sechele’s senior pedigree.

A December 1954 petition in favour of the FAA was endorsed by the Bangwato, Bangwaketse, Batawana and Batlokwa Tribal Administrations. But, the FAA idea ironically and critically failed to win Kgari’s support, along with that of his Bakgatla colleague, Kgosi Molefi, and the British.

At the time the drive for royal federalism was also reflected in Bathoen II's proposals to introduce a common flag incorporating the totems of each of the gazetted tribes, as well as the establishment of September 30th as an annual territory wide “Protectorate Day.”

While leading dikgosi were at least mildly attracted to aspects of the Central African Federation's reformist multiracialism, others among the small intelligentsia of educated non-royals appreciated that its institutional structures entrenched white minority domination.

After the Second World War members of this group were also becoming increasingly critical of royal autocracy. As they observed the acceleration of political change elsewhere on the continent, the idea of a separate identity as a self-governing Protectorate emerged as a realistic alternative.

At his inaugural sitting on the JAC, in April 1958, the royal Seretse Khama began to articulate this not so royalist view, stating:

“I think it is time that we ourselves in Bechuanaland, who neither belong to the Union of South Africa nor the Federation, or any other part as far as I can see, except Great Britain, should try to formulate a policy of our own which is probably unique to us. And that is a policy, perhaps, of even teaching those countries who profess to be more advanced than ourselves, that in as far as administration and race relationships [are concerned] they have more to learn from us than we from them.

“I must say, quite frankly that I have been rather disturbed to find that on the whole there is a tendency to look always over our shoulders. Perhaps I am wrong, if so I stand corrected. We want to see what is happening elsewhere instead of getting on with what we know is peculiar to us and to the country itself. We should get on and have no fear that we may incur someone's displeasure, as long as what we do is internationally accepted…

“And if we are right I am afraid emotion must come into this; we should not bother very much with what anyone might say…We have ample opportunity in this country to teach people how human beings can live together.”

On hindsight it was a “man and moment” milestone signalling Seretse’s nascent emergence as a national leader prepared to rally emerging nationalist sentiment, thus further signalling his determination to play an active political role that would extend beyond his Gammangwato power base.

That Seretse Khama would seek such a role had not been immediately obvious to others at the time of his return from exile in October 1956. Notwithstanding his international fame and local status as the uncrowned king, his future ambitions and role had appeared uncertain.

Within Gammangwato his political role was initially limited to membership on the Tribal Council where he shared influence, but little in the way of formal authority, as one of the “Big Three” alongside Tshekedi Khama and the then Tribal Authority Rasebolai Kgamane.

The April 1958 JAC session also proved to be an important political turning point in that it was at the same forum that the British government finally accepted the principal of establishing a local Legislative Council.

Besides the by now unanimous support for multi-racial self-government on the part of the Council’s white as well as black members, London had seemingly concluded that political advances elsewhere in the region, notably including the rise of nationalist resistance within the Federation, combined with growing condemnation of apartheid meant that the time was finally ripe to contemplate some greater degree of autonomy for Bechuanaland along with the other two High Commission Territories.

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
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.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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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    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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