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THE ROOTS OF NATIONALIST POLITICS PART 14: LOCAL CHALLENGES (II)

Jeff Ramsay
BUILDERS OF BOTSWANA

This week we continue to look at emerging local challenges to the colonial status quo, having previously concluded that underlying the ethnic ferment in Ngamiland during the reformist regency of Pulane Moremi (1947-64) was the recent collapse of bolata, which up until the 1940s had incorporated substantial numbers of Wayeyi, as well as Khoe (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), Mpho, supported the cause of the Ovaherero, as well as his fellow Wayeyi.

Mpho's own impact within the area before independence was, however, limited by the fact that between 1948 and 1960 he was based in South Africa, gaining both experience and well earned respect as the chairman of the ANC's Roodeport branch, while he spent most of the early 1960s trying to build up a national following from Palapye.

In Kweneng Kgosi Kgari's post Second World War attempts to consolidate royal autocracy were at various times challenged by ex-servicemen, persecuted independent church followers, ethnic sub-groups and educated progressives. Leadership among the later ultimately fell to two junior royal relatives, Patrick Kgosidintsi and Englishman Kgabo, who in 1962 became the rival leaders of the BPP and BDP in Kweneng. In this competition while the BPP was supported by ANC and labour militants, such as Ben Kenosi and Victor Busang, as well as some of the old BagaSebele, the majority of the local notables, including such older progressives of the pre-war generation as Marthinus Seboni, James Mhiko and Sankoloba Matlabaphiri, drifted into the Domkrag camp. Of the 64 elected and appointed members of the 1961 Bakwena Tribal Council, by 1965 43 were associated with the BDP with only 4 for the BPP.

By the time of Kgari's 1962 death the political parties had already gained the initiative. Thereafter the unsatisfactory resolution of the succession dispute between Sebele II's eldest son, Moruakgomo, and his cousin Bonewamang Padi, in which a colonial Judge naively imposed the illegitimate and incompetent Neale Sechele as a compromise candidate, at least temporarily reduced the political relevance of bogosi.

In western Kweneng Bakgalagari grievances during the 1950s became associated with the persecution of the independent Pentecostal movement of Tumelo Puleng, as well as the occasional protests of such figures as Eyes Rekoeng and the Babaloogwe Kgosi Gaoonwe Seloilwe.

In the settler dominated freehold concession areas of the northeast and southeast, as well as the sparsely inhabited Crownlands of Ghanzi, Chobe, and Kgalagadi, there were no colonially recognized chiefs, only sub-chiefs and headmen. Royal autocracy was thus not a significant issue. Instead political agitation focused on white settler domination and discrimination, black landlessness, and inter-communal competition over scarce resources.

In Ghanzi the opening of the cattle trek route to the Lobatse abattoir increased economic and political competition between rival white, mostly Afrikaner, and black, predominately Ovaherero, Bakgalagari and Nama, pastoralists. Khoisan speakers, predominately Naro and Gwi-Khoe, who made up approximately half of the district's population, remained a marginalized underclass.

Notwithstanding its relatively modest population the Chobe sub-district had its own political culture revolving around competition between and among the Vekuhane (Basubiya), Batawana and Shua-Khoe communities, attempts to organize local timber company workers, and resentment at the discriminatory shadow of the Rhodesias. The latter was accompanied by official concern about the presence of alleged Northern Rhodesia African National Congress activists.

The northeast and southeast, including the growing towns of Francistown and Lobatse, in many ways resembled microcosms of the bordering settler states. After the Second World War low African wages reinforced by a rigorous colour bar, gave rise to organized labour activity.

The territory's first trade union, the Francistown African (later Bechuanaland Protectorate) Workers Union (BPWU) was founded in 1949. Subsequently revived by Raditladi in the mid-fifties, with branches in Serowe led by L. Seretse and Lobatse by Victor Busang, the BPWU remained more of a talking shop than a true workers movement. Busang, however, managed to organize boycotts of racist business establishments.

Joshua Nkomo's Rhodesia Railway Workers Union, was also active in the Protectorate. Its organizers included future BPP stalwarts Knight Maripe and Kenneth Nkwa, both of whom were then based in Bulawayo.

In 1954 Raditladi also presided over the Francistown African Cultural Organization as a forum for educated township dwellers. In 1959 this grouping was superseded by the more openly politicised Tatitown Cultural Organization, one of whose leading lights was a store manager, ex-serviceman and sometime Pentecostal preacher named Philip Matante.

Having migrated to Johannesburg after the war, Matante had played at most a minor role in ANC activities prior to his 1957 return to the Protectorate. He had thus already left South Africa before the 1959 formation of the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), with which he was often subsequently identified. Before becoming the BPP's most charismatic public speaker, he had also honed his oratory skills as an independent preacher; struggling in vain between February and October 1960 to have his “St. Phillip's Apostolic Church” sanctioned in Gammangwato.

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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
Samson

… 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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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

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 www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    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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