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Stuart White

‘As old as Methuselah’. We’ve all heard the phrase and though most of us don’t know much about the man, we do know that Methuselah is a Biblical character who, in a cast list of characters who all lived to what seems to us quite impossible ages, is reputed to have lived the longest, a total of 969 years, to be precise.  Not that he outlived some of his ancient contemporaries by that much.  Noah is said to have sired his 3 sons, Shem, Ham and Japeth, when he was a baby of 500 and lived to the ripe old age of 950 years. 

Adam managed 930 mortal years and Jared 962.  But then post-Genesis for some reason life expectancy began to shrink quite alarmingly.  Noah’s son Shem only managed 600, Aphraxad 438 and then down and down went the figures till we get to Abraham 175 and Moses who shuffled off his mortal coils at the tender age of 120, though curiously it was Moses himself who gave us the famous phrase ‘three score years and ten’ in reference to man’s average life span
“The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” ( HYPERLINK "" t "_blank" Psalm 90:10).

For most of the intervening centuries that span persisted as everyman’s life expectancy.  If he popped his clogs much earlier than that, he was said to have gone too soon, much longer and he would have ‘had a good run for his money’.   Yet surely, in this the 3rd millennium, with our advances in medicine, our knowledge of the sciences of nutrition and fitness and in the general improvement in our living conditions, this 70-year span is outdated and a pessimistic underestimation?  Surely we can do better than our ancestors in Biblical times, men who did not have access to antibiotics, disinfectant, personal trainers, vitamin supplements, organic vegetables and let’s not forget an apple a day to keeps the doctor away, although according to the Bible, it was nibbling on that forbidden fruit which prevented Adam from enjoying immortality on earth.

Now you’ve probably noticed by now that I have been referring so far to the life expectancy of man, rather than Mankind and though I have referenced Adam and Noah, I have omitted any mention of Eve or Mrs. Noah, the reason being that female life expectancy is set slightly higher than that of the male and I do no want to muddy the waters or detract from the principle of the argument being set out herewith; in the face of all odds and after thousands of years between then and now, man still only seems to be able to average those self-same three score years and ten.

I bring it up after 2 very high-profile celebrity deaths recently, those of pop musician David Bowie and character actor Alan Rickman.  Both men died from cancers within a few days of each other and both men were aged 69, just a little shy of their promised 70 years.  We hear much these days of the great strides forward in oncology treatments and it is safe to assume that both would have the means at their disposal to source the best clinicians and the best treatment for their respective diseases; and yet neither was able to overcome the disease which ultimately took their lives.

Figures from First World countries show that despite greater public education on healthy living and  battalions of government watchdogs, committees and quangos dedicated to setting public health targets and disseminating a mind-boggling amount of do and don’t guidelines aimed at eliminating diseases and extending life expectancy, the opposite is actually happening.  The modern sedentary lifestyle, reliance on  ready-meals of questionable provenance, substitution of vitamin supplements to actual vitamins in the daily diets and food so cheap it seems sinful not to consumer more of it than anyone really needs has led to a generation of couch potatoes, an obesity epidemic and an explosion in rates of Type-2, or lifestyle-induced diabetes.   As for Bowie and Rickman, their respective deaths from liver and pancreatic cancers prove that strides may well have been made in oncology research but clearly much more is still to be done in terms of early diagnosis, identifying and eradicating risk factors and more effective treatments.

And therein lies the rub.  Because although lay folk talk glibly of ‘cancer’ singular, the problem is that modern man (and woman) is susceptible to many forms of cancers plural, all with different causes and all needing niche treatments and extremely type-specific selective drugs.  And though it is easy to assume that since there is more knowledge of these different cancers now, therefore they must be of modern-making and current causes, it is far more likely that as life expectancy rose in the mid 1960s, older bodies opened themselves up to susceptibility – simply put, up to the age of around 70,  those men who have the early stages of cancer but with no symptoms, may simply die before they manifest themselves; though it’s also true that some well-studied cancers would also appear to have sprung from a change in our lifestyle habits.  It’s all a bit chicken and egg.

And of course none of it explains why Methuselah and his contemporaries managed three score decades and then some whilst poor Abraham and Moses were only granted a fraction of that; and all other mortals thereafter were pegged at 70 or thereabouts.  One thing I can say for sure – that all of us are as old as our hair and a little bit older than our teeth and to quote the poet John Keats slightly out of context. ‘- that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know’.  Mind you, he died at age 26 so why should we listen to him?

STUART WHITE is the Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on 395 1640 or at  HYPERLINK ""

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

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.

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”


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.”


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.


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)


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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