Migrants, illegal immigrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, boat people – different handle for much the same problem, depending on your personal viewpoint, your personal situation and your country of residence. It seems that wherever you look, these émigrés are currently hitting the headlines and for all the wrong reasons.
In South Africa it is impossible to ignore the rising wave of what is being referred to as xenophobia, described in the Collins Dictionary as ‘a hatred or fear of foreigners or strangers of their politics or culture’. Condemned by the press, the chattering classes and intellectuals alike, this has sadly been fuelled by some mind-bogglingly inappropriate remarks by the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini in which he compared foreigners to ‘ants’ and ‘lice’, contributing to a new upsurge of violence in KwaZulu Natal. Terrified foreign nationals in South Africa are now being given police and army protection, whilst camps are hastily being set up as temporary places of safety but the situation in many urban areas remains volatile.
Curiously, this ‘xenophobia’ seems only to extend to citizens of other Africa countries, doubly ironic in that it was in recent history that South Africans, seeking political asylum from the old apartheid government were happy to accept shelter and succour from some of the same states whose citizens are now being attacked and killed. Also, as pointed out in a banned Nando’s advert, that everyone is technically a foreigner in South Africa, save for the few remaining indigenous Khoisan.
Moving up to the very north on the continent another immigrant problem is growing daily, that of the boat people leaving Africa in overcrowded, unseaworthy vessels, hoping to make the short journey from Libya to Malta or Italy for a new life in Europe.
These comprise a mixture of social and political refugees, all of whom have paid some unscrupulous people-trafficking crooks large sums of money to secure a place on the boats, aware of the potential risks but calculating that the price they pay, both literally and figuratively, will be worth it if they make land on the other side of the Mediterranean with a promise of a new life in Europe. Sadly many have perished; more than a thousand men, women and children this week alone.
And as I write, a conference of major European leaders is being held in the Maltese capital of Valetta to discuss the bigger issue here – that though they make landfall in Italy, that being the closest point of access, their ultimate destination is further north in one of the many EU countries viewed as offering easy pickings by the would-be settlers.
The talk amongst leaders and in the European press is of a shared, quota system and a humanitarian approach, in spite of the obvious elephant-in-the-room implication that this will only lead to an escalation in the numbers trying to enter Europe’s borders by the sea route, thus growing the problem, rather than stemming it.
Thousands of miles away in Australia, this country, too, has its share of boat people, heading from Indonesia in the hope of putting to shore somewhere on its vast coast but for the recent past they have tried in vain. This is because of the hardline stance taken by the Australian government against people smugglers and illegal immigrants. Any such vessels are repelled by the Australian navy and forced to turn back and waifs and strays are threatened with being dropped off on one of the many uninhabited islands in the region.
A tough attitude for sure, but one that Prime Minister Tony Abbott is urging his European counterparts to follow suit, pointing to its hundred percent success rate. His country has a strict quota and qualification system when it comes to potential immigrants and he has made it clear that he will not allow this system to be bucked, no matter how sad the sob story or where the boat people are coming from. No means no.
Here in Botswana the government has a similar restrictive system on foreign workers, with all potential expatriates expected to prove their professional competency and potential benefit to the country before being granted the right to work and reside here. There is the Dukwi refugee camp up north for asylum seekers but any other illegal immigrants are routinely rounded up and returned from whence they came, mostly, of course, from neighbouring Zimbabwe.
Such immigrants in the main are trying to escape the dire economic situation back home, caused by a despotic and failed governance and see the economic prosperity of their stable, diamond-rich neighbour as an Eldorado, or more technically an Elcarborundum, ‘Dorado’ meaning of gold which would mean only one place in this region – Egoli, or Johannesburg! Call it what you will, it’s an aspirational Promised Land just across the border.
It cannot be denied that all of these migrants are looking for a better life and of course many of them are prepared to achieve that through sheer hard work. However it’s equally true that a minority of them will undoubtedly turn to a life of crime, either through inclination or circumstances, making them undesirables in anyone’s book.
It’s also true that many countries in Europe offer financial benefits to all and sundry, making the lure of settling there an easy life and a soft touch, rather than a land of opportunity for the upwardly mobile. And that, of course, is precisely why countries have a screening process in the first place and why, if they allow even one single illegal immigrant to enter and settle a dangerous precedent is then set.
And it is understandable that such a move will cause resentment amongst citizens, spewing up accusations that they are either work-shy spongers or they are stealing jobs from under their noses, in spite of the fact that by and large, immigrants are willing to take on those jobs that others don’t want in the first place.
And there’s the route of the whole problem. Over a century ago Cecil Rhodes, yes he of the tumbling statues and crumbling reputation, wrote that ‘to be born British is to win first prize in the lottery of life’, for such it was in what was back then a very different world.
Yet today the same concept behind his statement still applies – there are many places that given a free choice, we would prefer to be born and plenty where we wouldn’t. The pity is that it is a lottery and like any type of tombola or game of chance, not everyone can win. I guess you and I should just be grateful we’re some of the lucky ones.
STUART WHITE is the Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on 395 1640 or at www.hrmc.co.bw
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.
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.
POSITIVITY 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)
COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT
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.
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.