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THE FIGHTING BECS PART 13 – THE END

Jeff Ramsay
BUILDERS OF BOTSWANA

We left off in August 1944 with Batswana APC companies engaged in allied efforts to overrun the German 10th Army’s last major defences in the mountainous terrain of central Italy, the Gothic line. A million German troops, reinforced by diehard Italian fascist units manned the line, which resisted sustained allied assault until March 1945. Keeping such large numbers of the enemy pinned down, while the allied invasion of France proceeded was, however, a major strategic objective.

For their part the ranks of British Empire and American forces had been depleted by the withdrawal of units to fight in southern France. The services of the Batswana, along with Basotho, British Indian, and Mauritian, Pioneers were thus in especially high demand all along the frontline.

In August the renaissance city of Firenze (Florence) fell in bitter fighting to the 5th Army's South African division. Within days the Pioneers of 1969 (Bakwena) Company had erected Bailey bridges across the Arno River.

Elsewhere Batswana Pioneers were busy manning ammo and petrol dumps, unloading ships, cutting roads and servicing RAF bases. By the end of 1944, with the decline of enemy air activity, many of the Batswana H.A.A. gunners were once more assigned field firing roles, taking part in long running artillery duels.

Apparently writing on behalf of his unit, APC Sergeant Sampson sent a letter with enclosed picture to the British Resident Commissioner in Mafikeng expressing his pride weapon and esprit d ‘corps:

“This is a picture of our friend that we are proud of “Mobile Gun”. With the aid of this machine, the enemy can hardly succeed in shooting or capturing us then it is his last day…today we are calm and collected under all circumstances, burning only with the desire to get a grips on the enemy and so great is our ardour that we feel like tearing him with our teeth.”

The arrival of the Brazilian 1st Division and US 10th Mountain Division at the end of 1944, as well as increased activity by anti-German Italian partisans, helped turn the tide of battle.  In February-March 1945 the Americans and Brazilians pushed through the centre of the Gothic Line, while to the east the battle hardened 1972 (Bangwato), later joined by 1974 (Bakgatla, Balete, Batlokwa), Company assisted the Americans in pounding German coastal positions near Pisa.

Further inland 1976 (Bangwato) Company helped provide cover for the New Zealanders, Poles, Americans, Indians, and allied Italians of the 5th Army's right flank.

In April 22-23 1945 Batswana were among the multinational forces that crossed the river Po to rapidly advance across northern Italy. Sweeping across the northern Italian plains, while taking the city of Venice; by the end of the fighting in May 1945 Batswana were among those who had reached the Austrian and Yugoslav borders.

With the end of the war the white officers who commanded various colonial African troops in the allied armies recognized that “native affairs” would not return to its pre-war pattern. In August 1945, the Officer Commanding the 1974 (Bakgatla, Balete, Batlokwa) H.A.A. Company, G.J.L. Atkinson, thus informed the Protectorate's Government Secretary, Gerald Nettleton, that there had been no instances of mass disobedience among the Batswana gunners, however adding:

"But elsewhere there was a lot. It is one of the most important aspects of the behaviour of African troops in this war. The Depot Commandant had a very interesting talk on this subject, and asked the OCs [Officers Commanding] for their views on how things might be improved- for the next time! He says that mass disobedience occurred among all African troops. It is not being hushed up now- it cannot be- and indeed it is the most important fact to be faced. Successful African mass disobedience is a product of this war."

Back in Botswana the young men who spearheaded the post-war resistance of the BakaNswazwi, as well as many of those who in June 1949 proclaimed Seretse as their true Kgosi, whore their APC uniforms. Elsewhere such dikgosi as Kgari and Bathoen II recognized a new spirit of assertiveness among the veterans.

Yet only a few former APC soldiers, ex-Sergeants Philip Matante and Amos Dambe being notable examples, ultimately played leading roles in the subsequent emergence of the nationalist political parties. Most of the leading nationalist politicians of the 1960s, individuals such as Mpho, Masire, Nwako and Koma, as well as Seretse, were in school during the war years.

Batswana troops came back with new skills that, due to the lack of opportunity at home and racist job reservation across the borders, proved to be of little subsequent benefit to them. The same is true of those blacks who rose to more skilled occupations in Gauteng's war industries only to be pushed back down the ladder with peace. Local Batswana participated in the great, brutally suppressed, strikes of 1945-46.

Then there is the most overlooked of all local veterans, the women who maintained the nation, nurturing its post-independence leadership. In Molepolole, when their men folk returned in 1946, they sang a song which roughly translates: "Hail Kgosi Kgari, Our men have come home through the grace of God, Bakwena, Bangwaketse, Bangwato, we are one nation!"

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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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