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The Bantu Soviet

Jeff Ramsay

"I found among the more intelligent men as unexpected interest in the course of English political history, in the passage of power from crown to aristocracy, from aristocracy to the bourgeoisie, from the bourgeoisie to the proletariat; and they were frankly speculating about the possibility of tribal development following comparable lines." – British journalist Leonard Barns, reporting on his 1931 tour of the Bechuanaland Protectorate.

Last week we noted the existence by the 1920s of local interest in the Basotho Commoners Association or ‘Lekhotla la Bafo’ (LLB), which agitated for popular self-government on the basis of what they insisted should be the restoration of indigenous democracy through dikgotla and a Basotho National Pitso. In this respect LLB ideas are known to have been communicated by Basotho serving in the Bechuanaland Protectorate Police, as well as through contacts in Gauteng.

Beginning in 1928 the LLB forged a lasting alliance with the South African Communist Party, which among other things opened the door for its members to become regular contributors in party periodicals such as Usembenzi and Inkululeko. The LLB international profile was further raised by its association with various Comintern sponsored international front organisations, beginning with its October 1929 affiliation with the League against Imperialism and League for the Defence of the Negro Race and Africa Bureau of International Trade Union Committee of Negro Workers, the latter two being then headed by George Padmore.

Between the World Wars the LLB Secretary-General, Maphutseng Lefela, took the lead in affirming through the communist press that the Sotho-Tswana Kgotla, along with similar indigenous institutions in the region, should be understood as the ‘Bantu Soviet’. In this context, traditional leaders who operated within what were conceived to be indigenous democratic norms, i.e. “morena ke morena ka batho”, would continue to have a political role.

Alternatively, a prominent Motswana Communist at the time, L. Leepile (who apparently originated from Kanye) called in the same publications for the ultimate overthrow of bogosi through the formation of a worker and peasants “Republic of Botsoana”, which could eventually take its place aside similar polities in what he envisaged would become a post-revolutionary Soviet Union of South African Republics.

While some copies of Communist periodicals were smuggled into the Bechuanaland Protectorate, as well as mining compounds in Gauteng, before the Second World War, specific interest LLB’s radical neo-traditional ideology among at least a handful of Bakwena can rather be traced to the presence of Basotho policemen posted at Molepolole.

Beginning in 1926, the LLB also took the initiative in what were ultimately unsuccessful efforts to forge a wider Lekhotla or League of Protectorates that would provide a common platform for Batswana and Swazi as well as Basotho to resist incorporation into the Union of South Africa, while also seeking the repeal of the Foreign Jurisdictions Act, which was the legal basis for Britain’s claim of sovereign jurisdiction of the three territories.

LLB efforts to promote the League of Protectorates and other joint initiatives inside the Bechuanaland Protectorate were principally directed towards winning over the support of the Bangwato regent Tshekedi Khama. Basotho authorities in this context intercepted and copied a 12th April 1930 letter addressed to Tshekedi by H.M.D. Tsoene on behalf of LLB pleading that the regent:

“…join hands with us in the matter of collecting the necessary funds to enable us to send our representatives to England to voice and represent the interests, wishes and desires of our respective protectorates and to establish a permanent office of the representative of our respective protectorates in England.”

In his letter Tsoene accurately observed that Tshekedi’s father Khama III had agreed to accept British Protection during the 1885 visit of General Sir Charles Warren “as a step against German encroachments upon your country” and with “the assurance that “England would protect Bechuanaland for Bechuana people to enjoy the blessings of peace under their hereditary chiefs”; further adding:

“It was never made a condition by Sir Charles Warren to Chief Khama that England would afterwards dispose of Bechuanaland and hand it other European Government in South Africa, whose cruelty is unparalleled and even worse than that of the Germans on account of whom Sir Charles Warren asked Chief Khama to throw his country into British protection.

“Again in 1895, Mr. Chamberlain wrote letters to Chiefs Khama, Bathoeng and Sebele after their visit to England to assure them that Bechuanaland would always remain the property of Bechuana people…the contents of these letters are in the Blue Books in England. But it would be our folly to let our countries slip out of our control while England has given us sound pledges for protection and it is up with us to stand up and organise our people against incorporation of our respective countries into the Union Government…

“We can only come to this position through hard work on our part being done by us to protect our rights and countries. For this reason we earnestly beg you to make a united front movement together with us against the imminent danger of incorporation of our respective protectorates into the Union Government.”

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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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