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The Fighting Becs Pat 2 – Not Ahain

Jeff Ramsay


When, on the 3rd of September 1939, Britain declared war on Nazi Germany, the Bechuanaland Protectorate automatically became part of the imperial conflict. Although Batswana had no say in the matter, within days of the declaration most of the Gazetted Chiefs in the territory had forwarded letters pledging their loyalty and readiness to support the war effort.

The stance of the local dikgosi stood in immediate contrast with the political divisions being played out across the border among the dominant white Afrikaners in the then minority ruled Union of South Africa.

Motivated in part by the fact that South Africa’s participation the First World War a quarter century earlier had led to a civil war within his own community, the Union Prime Minister, J.M.B. Herzog, favoured a policy of neutrality.

Hertzog’s stand resulted in his replacement by Jan Smuts, who was thereafter able to secure a narrow majority in the all white Parliament for joining the British war effort. Afrikaner opinion, however, remained deeply divided with some anti-British extremists joining the Ossewabrandwag, a pro-German armed resistance movement.

Notwithstanding the Dikgosi’s expressions of imperial solidarity, they along with many of their subjects also harboured reservations about any active participation in the war. As with blacks, as well as Afrikaners, elsewhere in the region, Batswana opinion was influenced by still raw emotions arising from the previous World War.

Memories of the earlier conflict were brought into focus by the death in Ghanzi on the 2nd of October 1939 of the Protectorate’s most prominent political detainee, the Bakwena Kgosi Sebele II. His body was returned to Molepolole, where tens of thousands, including many from outside Kweneng, attended his funeral.

The extent of public outpouring came as something of a shock to the British officials who reported that his burial was the biggest event in the Protectorate they had ever witnessed.

The fact that Sebele had served as a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) in France during the conflict against the Kaiser was a reminder of the ambivalence many Batswana felt towards participation in another “white man's war.”

Lured to Mafikeng in June 1931 on the false pretence of attending a meeting to discuss water works, Sebele had been indefinitely detained without charge and confined to Ghanzi.

As a “British Protected Person” rather than colonial subject, he like all “Natives” in the territory was denied the basic right of habeas corpus in accordance with the Bechuanaland Protectorate Proclamation no. 15 of 1907, the notorious “Expulsion Law” whose colonial era victims also came to include, among many others, Sekgoma Letsholathebe, John Nswazwi, Gobuamang Mosielele and Seretse Khama.

Sebele had cited his war record in his ultimately futile challenges to his detention.

On the 10th of July 1917 he had been among a handful NCO’s from the 21,000 strong South African Native Labour Contingent (SANLC) who were selected to meet with King George V and Queen Mary, accompanied by Edward Prince of Wales and General Haig, in Abbeville France.

On that occasion the King had assured the men that: “You are also part of my great armies fighting for the liberty and freedom of my subjects of all races and creeds throughout the Empire.”

Sebele became the Kgosi of the Bakwena on the very day of his return from the Western Front, which happened to coincide with the death of his father Kealeboga Sechele II.

Thereafter, it was his stubborn rejection of his and his people’s subordinate position within their own homeland that led to his downfall.

800 Protectorate Batswana enlisted in the Fifth (High Commission Territories) Battalion of the SANLC, of whom at least 555 served in France during 1917-18.

About 1,500 also took part in the conquest and occupation of German South West Africa (Namibia), while perhaps a 1,000 had been deployed under South African command in East Africa. In this respect, negative feelings arising from the conflict went beyond the fate of Sebele.

Some three million blacks from the Diaspora as well as Africa had served in various military formations during the war.

While racial barriers had been a common experience among virtually all of these troops, only those under South African command had not been issued with firearms or otherwise recognised as combatants.

In France the SANLC had, in fact, been treated more like prison labourers than military volunteers. When not used as beasts of burden, its members were confined behind barbed wire.

In the words of one of their white commanders: “The camps occupied by our men and the prisoners of war are identical in every respect, except as regard to the locality those occupied by prisoners are more favourably situated.”

The SANLC, itself, was prematurely disbanded in 1918 as a result of South African Government concerns about growing unrest in its ranks. Up until 1986 successive Pretoria regimes ignored the veterans, denying them service medals and other forms of official recognition.

In 1928 some embittered local veterans turned down a belated British offer of medals for the Batswana, Basotho and AmaSwati who had served in the Fifth Battalion.

Thus it was that among the Batswana in 1939 there was consensus that any active participation in a Second World War had to be different.

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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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