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Roadblocks to Reformation

Iqbal Ebrahim


Last week, we touched on what is commonly known as the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ and their effects on us. These bad traits are sometimes a stumbling block in our desire to reform in order to achieve peace of heart, mind and soul. We need to control those inner feelings if we are to get onto the highway to that goal. We have already covered: pride, greed and envy; but as with every one of these sins there is an opposite and more beneficial way for us. This week we touch on the others.   

Making a glutton of oneself means that we consume more than that which one requires, commonly the excess in eating and drinking, but it can spread elsewhere. How many times do we gobble up our food and still go for more when we are literally full to the brim? Moderation and balance are desirable traits that we should develop. While we are gobbling up the food, have we ever stopped to think about the poor people who have no food to eat?
How often do we see people, even here in Botswana scratching around in dustbins to find some scraps to eat? Surely we must suffer a pinch of conscience when we see the suffering of those millions of people who don’t even know where their next meal is coming from let alone what they can eat now. Gluttony in this case should not only be limited to the intake of food and drink, but in our desires for the things in this world.

Moderation is the most desirable thing in all our affairs. Be it in food, drink, in our spending, our daily living, literally in every facet of our lives. ‘It is best for them to be modest; Allah is the one who sees and knows all things’ (Quran 24: 60). Prophet Muhamad (PBUH) said: ‘He is not a Muslim who eats his fill and leaves his neighbour hungry’.

A Biblical verse says: ‘for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags’ (Proverbs 23:21)

Therefore before we allow gluttony to kick in we should let our conscience remind us of those less fortunate than us and what we can do to ease their suffering. This should bring about a change in our outlook as we begin to appreciate our own blessings, but more importantly it can make us more receptive to the plight of the poor.

We are human and are fallible to say and do things that upset others including ourselves. Anger is one of the emotions that many of us display at one time or another; we get angry with our spouses, children, friends and others. This anger uncontrolled leads to rage, quarrels, hatred, violence and a host of other evils. ‘…..and lower your voice, for the harshest sounds without doubt is the braying of the ass’. (Quran 31:19)

Sometimes things do happen that can make us angry, but we need learn how to control our feelings and emotions. Anger once manifested in us can turn out to be a nasty experience because there is a fine line between anger, rage, fury and wrath.

The unfortunate outcomes of unrestrained anger can lead to saying harsh and hurtful things that we may regret later or it may lead to uncharacteristically violent behaviour. Many families and homes have been broken because of uncontrolled fit of anger. But we should learn to control ourselves and forgive and forget. ‘Those…… when they are angry even then forgive…..the recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto, but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah’ (Quran 42: 37-40)

The Bible also echoes a similar message: ‘……An eye for an eye……..but I say to you…. Whosoever smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other’ (Matthew 5:38-39). And: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (PROVERBS 15:1) 

Yes we all suffer from this occasionally, that’s fair enough, some days are just worse than others and we need to take a break and just ‘chill’. But we should not become too comfortable with the laid back style because laziness can become a regular habit and we can fall into that downward spiral to a slovenly lifestyle.

When this happens we get into what I have coined as the Kgantile’ syndrome, when nothing becomes urgent and everything can wait till tomorrow. This often leads to the avoidance of physical or our spiritual duties and obligations.  

In Islam the performance of the obligatory five times daily prayers brings into the lives of Muslims the process of disciplining the mind towards ‘time keeping’ because of the specified timings of the prayers. These prayers are offered at varying times because most are linked to timings of sunrise and sunset – this subconsciously sets up the mind into the mode of time keeping.

Prophet Muhamad (PBUH) said that we should offer this prayer: ‘O Allah! I seek refuge with You from worry and grief, from incapacity and laziness, from cowardice and miserliness…….’

“The way of the slothful is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway” (Proverbs 15:19) â€¨

Lust is to have an intense desire or need for something but often we translate it to mean the desire to satisfy our carnal instincts. To lust for something is just like greed and it includes the desire to have status, fame, recognition, wealth and a whole host of worldly wishes including to satisfy our ‘fleshy’ carnal desires.

Unfortunately when we lust for something the desire can become so intense that we tend to throw caution to the winds and can and will do things that are uncommon to our nature. ‘Know that they only follow their own lusts; and who is more astray than one who follows his own lusts, devoid of guidance from Allah?  (Quran 28:50).  ‘…..nor follow the lusts of your heart, for they will mislead you from the path of Allah’. (Quran 38:26). ‘Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty’. (Quran 24:30)

The Bible echoes similar advice: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

The so-called Seven Deadly Sins are not the only bad traits that we all have in one way or the other, tucked away within ourselves. But they are the ones that we can easily identify if we are honest with ourselves, once done, only then can we work on them to change our outlook in life. Remember that ‘life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change’.

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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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