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The Roots of Botswana Nationalist Politics Part 13: Local Challenges to Bogosi

Jeff Ramsay

Last week’s instalment noted that instances in which the British colonial state moved to suspend or remove uncooperative traditional leaders had a cumulative effect of destabilizing bogosi in many areas, while giving rise to new forms of organized political protest.

In some areas the authority of gazetted dikgosi, that is those formally recognised recognized Tribal Territory Chiefs, was further challenged by growing demands for equal treatment by various local groups. These included members of then subordinate communities, such as Bakalanga, Wayeyi, Babirwa, Ovaherero and Bakgatla bagaMmanaana, as well as members of new religious movements.  

But, perhaps most critically their also began to emerge in the larger villages a network of educated local notables, including local teachers, civil servants and commercial farmers, who by 1960 had begun to constitute an aspirant national bourgeois.

By the mid-fifties the growing challenge to the status quo was beginning to cause serious concern among some officials. In a secret September 1957 memo the Commissioner of Police noted that there would henceforth be:

“A greater concentration by Special branch on Security Intelligence; e.g. subversive activities inimical to Government such as Pan-Africanism and Nationalism, pseudo-religious activities, trade Unionism and subversion of Labour, contacts with Nationalistic or Communistic influences or organizations outside the territory, which are a Security problem. This problem may not be very self evident at present, but with economic development and the growth of education it will undoubtedly become more apparent in the future.”

The Commissioner's memo went on to outline a restructuring of the Special Branch within the Criminal Investigation Department (C.I.D.) to facilitate political surveillance.

A year earlier a confidential study by the then Divisional Commissioner South, Jean Germond, had already concluded that the institution of Chieftainship was only functioning effectively in Gangwaketse, where Bathoen II was described as an "industrious bureaucrat" who although allegedly "unpopular because there is nothing generous in his nature" was nonetheless "respected and feared and his word is law."

Germond's rather personalized analysis of royal decline was shared by a number of other old hands in the administration, who proposed such measures as special education for royal heirs and a strengthening of the traditional councils of royal uncles and senior advisors.

In this they were fighting what they perceived as a "new line" coming from the top in favour of promoting partially elected Tribal Councils to govern alongside the dikgosi. This new line was motivated at least in part by an official appreciation that the chiefly monopoly of power was becoming increasingly untenable.

Even in Bathoen's Gangwaketse, chiefly authority was being openly challenged. There, as elsewhere, there was a rapid growth of independent religious movements such as the Zionist Christian Church (ZCC), Apostolic Faith Mission and Jehovah's Witnesses despite their persecution.

In 1958 Bathoen, with government support, ordered the Zionists to resettle at Metlobo. Thereafter village, along with the BagaMmanaana settlement Moshupa remained a centre of anti-Bathoen sentiment (and post-1969 BDP strongholds).

A smaller, but ultimately more powerful, group of opponents emerged within Kanye among young educated commoners, many of who had been initiated by Bathoen in 1947 as the “Maganamokgwa” regiment. Prominent among the Maganamokwa was Quett Ketumile Masire, who had a series of clashes with Bathoen throughout the 1950s over such issues as his advocacy of the fencing of communal land and criticism of royal marketing cartels for local agricultural produce.

An educator turned Master Farmer and part time journalist; Masire was an archetype of the educated, petty bourgeois, “new men” who throughout the Protectorate were increasingly dissatisfied with the economic and political constraints of “bogosi” to the advancement of both themselves and their communities.

To this end they generally came to favour the creation of a strong central government that would remove racial barriers to their advancement, protect private property and initiative, and be empowered to discipline acquisitive and/or autocratic dikgosi.

For them Bathoen came to epitomize the later, his local transport monopoly's buses being painted with the warning “sekalaba”. Masire himself would later recall: “We the young people wanted to see Batswana acting like a country at the end of the colonial era, not tribes. This is what caused two colleagues and I to want to start a paper. It was not money or politics. We were reading African Advisory Council minutes and seeing that the Chiefs wanted to be big fish in small ponds.”

In the other Tribal reserves a similar mix of opposition challenged what remained of monarchy after the earlier depositions. In Ngamiland the reformist regency of Pulane Moremi (1947-64) was undermined by ethnic separatist movements among the Ovaherero and Wayeyi, as well as a powerful faction of conservative dikgosana seeking to defend their privileges.

Underlying this ferment was the recent collapse of bolata, which up until the 1940s had incorporated substantial numbers of Wayeyi (previously labelled "Makoba" by their masters), as well as Khoe or Basarwa in the region.

In this context, Ngamiland's small educated elite became politically split along communal lines with Batawana reformers like Pulane's secretary Tsheko Tsheko ultimately becoming the nucleus of the BDP, while the future founder of the BPP and Botswana Independence Party (BIP), Motsamai Mpho, supported the cause of his fellow Wayeyi.

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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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