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The Roots of Botswana Nationalist Politics Part 9:

Jeff Ramsay

“Simon Ratshosa on bolata”

The following is from a 6th March 1888 statement by the Under Secretary of State, Baron Henry De Worms, M.P., before the British Parliament: –

“A certain portion of the inhabitants of Bechuanaland known as the Bakalahari stand, or rather stood, in an ill-defined relation of dependence and servitude towards the Bechuanas proper. According to native custom these persons can, and do, hold property of their own. Their servitude towards the Bechuanas takes the form partly of actual labour rendered, and partly of tribute paid in kind. They themselves stand in a position towards the Bushmen somewhat similar to that which they occupy towards the Bechuanas.

“The Secretary of State has laid down the following principles for the guidance of the Local Authorities on the subject: – (1) Within the British border all these people are in the eye of the law already free men. (2) He takes for granted, as far as Courts held by magistrates are concerned, that any magistrate would, as a matter of course, refuse to recognize or enforce any claim arising out of the supposed relation of master and slave, and would punish, as an infringement of personal rights, any attempt to exercise forcibly the claims of a master over a supposed slave. (3) The Local Administrator is to take every opportunity of informing Chiefs and Headmen, who exercise jurisdiction, as to the state of the law, and to warn them against recognizing or enforcing rights which are incompatible with it.”

In our last instalment we looked at the role of the Ratshosa brothers, more especially Simon Ratshosa, as opponents of Tshekedi Khama’s alleged autocracy. In his writings Simon did evolve a rather comprehensive critique of colonial era bogosi. But, his perspectives were largely confined at a small elitist circle.

Simon Ratshosa did, however, gain the attention of a much wider audience, both at home and abroad, when he began to publicly proclaim that the condition of Barwa, more properly Khoe, servants kept as malata by Bangwato and others was equivalent to slavery. As slavery was then against international as well as imperial law, the charge that bolata reduced local Khoe to mere property of their masters was very embarrassing to colonial administrators, who knew that it was well founded.

In 1923, for example, a Khoe man known to officials as “Masarwa Charlie”, had taken the bold step of appealing to the Government because his Mokgalagadi master (who was himself the servant to a well-to-do Mokwena) had sold his family from him.

Other cases of murder and rape committed against Khoe by their overlords also reached the ears of Magistrates, though prosecutions were rare notwithstanding London’s 1888 instructions on the matter.

In 1926 the High Commissioner, Earl of Athlone, toured the Protectorate reaffirming Government’s opposition to “Bushman” servitude, but still nothing effective was done to enforce it. His action had in fact been motivated from London in the context of the passage of the League of Nation’s ILO Convention on Slavery.

It was not until 1932, after Simon had threatened to “astound the whole civilized world” with proof that slavery was still practised under the British flag, that officials began to seriously concern themselves. Their outward response remained one of denial. In the same year they thus released an official report denying that bolata was slavery, while also arguing that the institution was disappearing.

The report, however, failed to bury the issue. The trial of some prominent Bangwato for flogging a Khoe to death kept allegations of slavery in Bechuanaland alive in newspaper headlines and colonial dispatches.

Further official reports denying the existence of Khoe slavery followed a high profile visit by a group of liberal human-rights activists (accompanied by the journalist Leonard Barnes previously referred to) who fully embraced Ratshosa’s allegations. Thereafter the London Missionary Society as well as a Government was obliged to send reports to the League of Nations in an effort to downplay the issue.

Yet, notwithstanding their denials, in 1936 the Bechuanaland authorities once more felt compelled to issue a legal proclamation affirming the abolition of slavery in the territory.

As in his other criticisms, Ratshosa’s own focus of bolata arose from his highly personalized conflict with Tshekedi. It was only after Tshekedi had freed Simon's own malata that he took up the issue in a seeming attempt to embarrass his nemesis.

Besides Simon, there were other early voices calling for democratic change through some form of national council with real legislative authority. At the inaugural 1921 session of the Native Advisory Council (NAC) the Resident Commissioner dismissed Motswareledi-Kgosi Isang Pilane's call for the body to be invested with genuine legislative powers through the adoption of a Constitution based on that of the African National Congress.

But the issue remained. By 1931 Drs. Silas and Sebophiwa Molema were able to present themselves before the NAC as the popular choices of the Barolong booRatshidi lekgotla. But, their appeal to both the imperialists and dikgosi to adopt this supposedly democratic practice elsewhere fell on deaf ears, as did their further calls for the creation of a two chamber council divided between Chiefs and commoners.

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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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