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The Roots of Botswana Nationalist Politics Part 8

Jeff Ramsay

“Tshekedi and the Ratshosas”

Our last instalment included an observation by the British journalist Leonard Barnes who during his 1931 tour of the Protectorate detected a degree of political ferment among the “more intelligent men” about the possibility of local tribal development leading to the ultimate overthrow of traditional hierarchy. Prominent among those who had shaped Barnes insight was Simon Ratshosa, who has at times been characterized as an early bourgeois nationalist.

A closer look at Simon Ratshosa's career reveals that his role as an early critic of the colonial status quo was, however, inconsistent and opportunistic. Like such contemporaries as Moanaphuti Segolodi and the young Leetile Raditladi, it furthermore grew out of his highly personalized conflict with Tshekedi Khama.

Educated at Lovedale in the Eastern Cape, Simon Ratshosa had himself been born into relative privilege. His mother Besi was the eldest daughter Khama III, while his father, Ratshosa, served as Khama III’s personal secretary. When Ratshosa died, Simon’s elder brother, Johnnie Ratshosa, took over the post, also serving Khama’s successor Sekgoma II until the latter Kgosi’s death in 1925.

But, when Sekgoma’s (half) brother Tshekedi Khama became regent in 1926, Johnnie along with his brothers, Obeditse as well as Simon, were quickly removed from political influence.

Just 20 years old at the time, Tshekedi had begun studies at Fort Hare University, when he was summoned to return to Serowe in the wake of Sekgoma’s death. On arrival he found that a Council of 12, which included both Johnnie and Simon Ratshosa, had been established to govern until he was formally installed.

As its dominant members, the Ratshosa brothers saw the council as a vehicle to perpetuate their family’s influence. In this respect they had the support of the colonial administration in seeking to maintain the council as some form of advisory and oversight body even after Tshekedi’s installation. As readers may recall at the same time the British were also insisting on a similar council in Molepolole to regulate Kgosi Sebele II.

But, once enthroned Tshekedi immediately dissolved the Council and sacked Johnnie Ratshosa as tribal Secretary. In so doing he had the support of most of the dikgosana, who had come to resent brothers special status.

The Ratshosas responded by shunning Tshekedi, leading to a rapid escalation of tensions. Fed up, the regent summoned the three brothers to kgosing, but they refused to come. He then dispatched his beaters to forcibly bring them to the kgotla, where they were sentenced to flogging for disrespect.

The brothers then attempted to flee. Johnnie was caught and beaten, but Simon and Obeditse escaped only to return to the scene with guns.

The two took aim at Tshekedi and fired. Several shots rang out, but their target was only slightly wounded. Simon and Obeditse then fled to the British Resident Magistrate, who had them arrested and subsequently found guilty of attempted murder; sentencing them to ten years with hard labour (later reduced to four years)

Meanwhile Tshekedi had ordered the brother’s houses be burnt as customary punishment for those committing treason. From prison, Simon Ratshosa spearheaded a legal claim against Tshekedi for their lost property.

The Magistrate upheld Tshekedi’s action, finding it to be in accordance with customary law. Simon then appealed to the Special Court of the Protectorate, where the brothers won their case, with the regent now being ordered to pay them compensation.

Furious at the reverse, Tshekedi in turn appealed to the highest court of the Empire, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.

The colonial administration strongly advised Tshekedi to withdraw the case on the ground of the expenses involved, which were greater than any potential compensation claim. But the regent was determined as a matter of principle to proceed. He covered his legal costs by imposing a special tribal levy.

In the end the Privy Council judged that Tshekedi had the right to inflict punishment on the Ratshosas in terms of Sengwato traditional law. But, the victory was tarnished by the Judges’ advice that the customary law should be reviewed

Meanwhile, during his period of imprisonment, Simon Ratshosa drafted an unpublished manuscript entitled “My Book on Bechuanaland Protectorate Native Custom”.  In it he appealed for colonial, rather than popular, intervention to curb what he now denounced as the despotism of dikgosi, further calling for the abolition feudal customs that were a barrier to “native progress and economic freedom”.

The people of the Protectorate, Simon wrote, suffered under the direct rule of often cruel Chiefs who contravened the British system of justice by imposing “feudal customs” on the people, while and enriching themselves in the process. In this respect he denounced the use of mephato on royal projects as “forced labour”, arguing that it led to people neglecting their own livelihoods.

To curb such despotism, he called for the creation of a “Bechuanaland National Council”, made up of educated Batswana, which would also be inclusive of non-Tswana groups in the territory. The proposed Council would serve as an advisory body to the British Resident Commissioner on lawmaking and as a customary court of appeal, which would be empowered to discipline "disobedient chiefs".

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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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