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Ghost-writers Ink

Stuart White
THE WORLD IN BLACK-N-WHITE

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder why I put myself under pressure to produce this weekly article – invariably I end up working late into the night on the evening before deadline day – trying to get thoughts and ideas down in some readable semblance of order. 

Of course the reason is clear – if you work in commerce, academia, research, education, government, medicine, technology – any field involving theory and changing events or updates – your career can only benefit from publishing articles in your area of expertise.  Bottom line – you have to graft for your craft….. or do you?

Everyone deserves a break sometimes but the nature of the media industry beast basically doesn’t allow for slow-downs or stoppages.  So when your holiday ‘me’ time comes along, the reality of the weekly article commitment comes to the fore – how does one cope?

Yes, you can do double duty for days beforehand, staying up into the wee small hours, tapping away to get a few spare articles  backed up to fill the weekly allocation of words or you could summon up a kindred spirit in the guise of a ghost writer who can fill in the blanks while you’re on leave.

Ghostwriting has been around for longer than one may think. The term first came to prominence in the Twenties when sporting heroes – with syndicated columns published across the country –  were too busy bashing fists or slugging balls to experience writer’s cramp, and the ghost was born.
 
So ghost writers have long been around but right now, books and articles are being ghosted at the fastest rate ever. It is estimated that up to 40% of published material has been ghost written – one might say it’s a boo-ming industry!

But what exactly is a ghost writer? According to Wikipedia, a ghostwriter is a professional writer who is paid to write books, articles, stories, reports, or other content which are officially credited to another person.  But, is it cheating?

Apparently not, the reason being that it is supposedly the author's ideas, concepts and stories that are used to create the article or book, just not necessarily those particular words in that particular order. Ghostwriters, like publishers, are necessities of the industry. They are just not widely understood by most people outside the publishing business, so they take on an air of secrecy, hence the haunting terminology.

Being published is all part of the 24/7 fame branding process these days and people of note and/or notoriety don’t always have the time to pen their own so having a ghost is a necessary evil!  It’s become a status symbol to have a ghostwriter writing your book or article for you – a bit like having a platinum credit card or driving a Mercedes Benz.  

It means that you have something important to say, that you are too busy to write it yourself, and that you have enough money to pay someone  else to put pen to paper, an anonymous hack who makes a living out of putting words into someone else’s mouth.  Of course anonymity is hard to maintain in the modern world of multiple social media, smartphones and spy cameras. 

Occasionally a best seller has the name of its real author leaked, such as with Gordon Ramsay’s “Humble Pie”.  It was a 2006 bestseller but it was the award-winning feature writer Rachel Cooke who proofed the pudding – and her slice of the pie was a £100,000 share of Ramsay’s rumored £750,000 advance! 

Others in ‘vanity publishing’ include Sharon Osbourne’s ‘Extreme’ and Victoria Beckham’s “That Extra Half Inch”, two ladies never far from the media spotlight and known more for their fashion style than their literary flair – fair to say that without a bit of help neither of them would have stood a ghost of a chance of completing a whole shopping list, much less a book.

One of the newer types of ghostwriters is the web log, or blog ghostwriter.  The success of a blog is rated according to how many “hits” it receives.  It is becoming common for ghosts to post comments on corporate sites, using various pseudonyms, and thus increase the traffic flow of “real” hits. 

While companies providing blog ghostwriters claim that falsely attributed postings are a legitimate marketing tactic, the practice has been deemed unacceptable by a major US paper, The Los Angeles Times which fired Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Hiltzik for fabricating postings in his blog using alternate 'identities'.

As the ghostwriter is only occasionally acknowledged by the author or publisher for his or her assistance, to be a successful ghost you really have to check your ego at the door and be prepared to spend a long time listening to someone talk about themselves or their ideas.

It helps if they have empathy with their writer – be it a physical person or a theoretical idea – and if they are any good, the subject’s voice or topic will come through and the burning issues they wish to cover will be laid down with clarity and cleverness for the delectation and delight if the reader.   

So, what it comes down to is that life is short – maybe much too short to be spent sitting at my desk staring at a blank piece of paper.  So excuse me whilst I slip into my beach mode and head off to exotic climes to explore my favourite haunts….. leaving you to wonder if you’ve just seen a ghost.

STUART WHITE is the Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on 395 1640 or at www.hrmc.co.bw

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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