Over the past few months our local satellite TV service provider, Multichoice, has been subject to a huge amount of bad publicity and social media moaning, even more than is usual. The furore began in September 2015 when it was announced that in line with some of its other worldwide subsidiaries, the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) was changing its programming schedule and its satellite channels and that subsequently southern Africa was next in line to receive the selection which had first been trialled in Australia last year. So the old BBC Prime, Lifestyle and Knowledge channels were being withdrawn and replaced with BBC First, Brit & Earth.
However, to the dismay of many local viewers Multichoice Botswana made the decision not to include these new channels (with the exception of BBC Brit) on its Premium bouquet, ostensibly on the grounds that the content was not to the taste of its local clientèle but more likely because of the increased cost. A social media blitz and flood of complaints followed and in mid-October the provider did a U-turn and announced that it would indeed offer BBC First, though BBC Earth remains off-limits. Such is the power of the people, when combined with the might of Mark Zucherberg!
It’s not the first time Multichoice has been the butt of bad publicity. Over the years it has been in operation it has often been criticised for its pricing structure and the Hobson’s Choice option that local subscribers are subjected to – in other words you can either take it or leave it – such is ever the way where a monopoly exists. And over the holidays the moaning has grown ever louder, possibly the result of so many people with so much time on their hands and able to tune in so inevitably the current clarion cry is that the channels are showing too many repeat shows which, the subscribers feel, is another example of the poor value for money they are receiving and directly the fault of Multichoice.
It’s not, of course! Multichoice is neither a television broadcaster nor a programme scheduler where the bouquet of channels is concerned. All it does it hook up its own subscribers to a selection of channels with which it has an agreement. This is effected via its decoder which enables access to that selection via satellite. What the channel chooses to broadcast is decided by network executives where that channel originates, in line with local tastes, company budgets and availability of material. Simply put, when you tune into BBC Brit and find yourself watching a re-run of a re-run of a re-run of a 2006 episode of Top Gear which you’ve seen so many times, you can practically watch with the sound turned down and fill in the dialogue yourself, it’s no use getting on the phone and giving the staff at Multichoice an earful – you have to contact the Beeb in the UK to register your complaint and good luck getting them to take a blind bit of notice.
And the sorrow of it all is that local viewers really don’t have a choice. For a while there was the pirated Philibao bouquet, available through those decoders from the Chinese shops, though after a court case in South Africa on the issue of legality and unfair competition, this has now been shut down. In any case it never offered any serious competition to the Multichoice bouquet selections – its only advantage was that it was free and in satellite broadcasting, as in so much else in life, you get what you pay for.
But all that may now be about to change. In a market-shaking revelation, the American TV and film streaming operation Netflix has announced an immediate move into the southern African market. The announcement was made by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings in a keynote speech at CES 2016, currently taking place in Las Vegas. Netflix can be streamed to tablet, PC, smartphone and even your television and it offers the best of recent and previous popular television series in their entirety as well as current series episodes as soon as they air in the US and UK, along with hundreds of multi-genre movies. All these are available on demand – in other words, he viewer chooses what he or she wants to view and when and the only repeats they ever have to suffer are the ones they opt to watch over. And following a 2011 deal with Dreamworks Animation, there are now family-viewing offerings too. Netflix, and its rival provider Amazon Television, revolutionised viewing habits in the US and more recently the UK and it’s almost certain to set the cat amongst the pigeons roosting on the roof of the Multichoice offices here.
There is one catch. To benefit from the new service you will need a good, reliable, broadband internet service and not all areas currently can lay claim to this, though the greater Gaborone are is pretty-well covered. And there is a monthly subscription fee for the privilege – US$7.99 (P80) for the basic option, US$9.99 P100) for the standard package and US$11.99 (P120) for the Premium. As you can see, all of these undercut Multichoice by some considerable margin and if money talks, many subscribers look set to walk. In fact it’s fair to say that finally it appears that in satellite television viewing terms in Botswana, there may soon really be a multi-choice.
There is a saying in South Africa which avers that, “the White man has no kin: his kin is money”. The saying rings very true considering what Mayer Amschel Rothschild – he of the planet’s wealthiest family – once said, that, “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws!”
To the white man, the dollar sign looms so large in his optics that it was precisely the reason he appropriated Africa towards the end of the 19th century. The idea was to develop his continent, Europe, at the same rate as he underdeveloped Africa. Yet he was driven as much by economic imperatives as by sheer greed and prejudice.
A “pagan” King violates the Jewish Temple by setting up an idol in the Holy of Holies
Why, General Atiku, has the Judean setting (present-day Israel/Palestine) being the focus of so much geopolitical fervour over the ages when it is so resource-poor and is not even that agriculturally fecund being a virtual desert? Why have all the superpowers of history locked horns over it since days immemorial?
Just a ‘teaser’: we are all complaining of the ‘hot weather’ and ‘heat’ – but think about it, is this a reminder / warning from the Almighty that if we find this weather ‘hot’ can you imagine what the ‘fires of hell’ will be like should we get there?
Let us take this as a reminder and a ‘warning’ that we should change our lifestyles so that we follow in the path of righteousness and that which our Lord has directed. Failing this we will face the ‘fire of hell’ which undoubtedly will be many times worse than what we are facing on this earth.
Because as humans we have been favoured and bestowed with the power of intellect thus we enjoy greatness over other creation, coupled with a greater responsibility. Should that responsibility be misused then only on the Day of Reckoning will he know we will live in joy or in grief forever.
Since the dawn of creation Allah has sent down thousands of messengers, dozens of Divine Books but only ONE universal Message to humanity. That message of Divine Revelation and guidance is clear, unambiguous and eternal:
Allah is One, He is Master and Creator of the universe and of mankind and to Him is due all worship and obedience.
He has sent humanity Divine Revelation and guidance through His Messengers and His Books.
As death is inevitable in this world, equally is our resurrection in the Hereafter where everyone will face the consequences of their belief, unbelief and conduct in this temporal world.
This is the basic message, teaching and belief of every religion and without doubt we will all be called to account for our lives in this world and the manner in which we conducted ourselves, will be rewarded thereafter, the consequences of which may be joy forever for some or grief forever for others.
“It is He [Allah] Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deeds and He is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.” (Qur’an: 67: 2)
In Islam the teachings of the Qur’an and the Last and Final Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) give clear guidance to the believer on how to live a life in this world so as to achieve success in the Hereafter.
‘If any do wish for the transitory things of this life, We readily grant them, such things as We will, to such persons as We will…… those who wish for the things of the Hereafter and strive for them with all due striving, and have faith, they are the ones whose striving is acceptable to Allah’ (Qur’an 17: 18-19)
In this world when a person sets out on a journey towards our Maker (Allah), he finds two paths, one leading to God and the other path to different destinations. A sincere and faithful believer will always try to find the right path and to live by the Divine injunctions, laws and code that his religion lays down. This requires us to live in harmony with the will of the Creator, in harmony with our own selves, and with the needs of the rest of creation. Unfortunately we have a tendency at times to toy with Divine Law and to surrender it to the laws of man and in the process to translate and interpret them into what fits in with our lifestyle of today.
If we are to use the intellect and the freedom of choice bestowed to us by God Almighty and follow His guidance, we will then live consciously in a state of “submission’ to Him, thus we will be virtuous. On the other hand when we ignore our Creators injunctions we work against the natural order, we tend to create discord, injustice and evil – and we become one without guidance. Therefore it is the intellect and the freedom of choice given to us that we are fully responsible for whatever we do.
However, it would be foolish for us to think of ourselves as totally independent and self-sufficient. If a person thinks in this manner, we become proud and. We will be inclined to become ungrateful for the bounties that we enjoy – the air that we breathe and the food we eat to sustain us, the eyes and ears we use to perceive the world around us, the tongue and lips we use to express our needs, wants and our inner most feelings and emotions. And being ungrateful, we will be inclined to forget or to reject the truth of the existence of God Almighty.
Unfortunately, people have varying views with regards to what the most important characteristic of a person is: for some it is the colour of his skin; for others, it is his economic situation – whether he is wealthy or poor; others think it is his , social or political standing, whether he is ruler or ruled; for others it is his social standing as an aristocrat, middle or working class; yet for some is his birth place and the language he speaks or the tribe he belongs to, etc..
‘Do men think that they will be left alone on saying “We believe”, and they will not be tested? We tested those before them, and Allah will certainly those who are true and those who are false’. (Quran 29: 2-3)
In Islam, these have no significance rather they are merely taken as signs of the creative power of God to enable people to recognise one another. The Almighty declares “O Mankind! Indeed we have created you as male and female, and have placed you in nations and tribes that you may have mutual recognition. However, the most honourable of you, in the sight of Allah is the one who is most God-conscious” (Qur’an: 49: 13)
Hence, the most important characteristic of a person is whether he is conscious of his Creator, believes in Him and through that consciousness submits to Him at all times and in all circumstances.
According to the Islamic view man is created by Allah in a pure state, free from sin. He also created us with the capacity or power to do both good and evil. He gave us the freedom to choose between doing good or evil. The good and evil therefore is connected with mankind’s freedom of choice and responsibility for their actions. “Good” may be whatever is pleasing to Allah and therefore beneficial to us. Whereas “Bad/evil” may be whatever incurs the anger of God and is therefore harmful to man.
‘By the soul, and the proportion and order given to it; And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right – truly he that succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it….. (Quran 91: 7-10)
Therefore one of mankind’s main tasks is to keep away from and ward off evil. This is why Taqwa, piety and God consciousness is repeatedly mentioned in the Qur’an as the most important quality a person should develop in this regard. This means one must be conscious at all times not to over step the limits set by God. It works as a defence against evil and temptation by keeping a person within the boundaries of piety.