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Jeff Ramsay

We last left off with the observation that during the late 1890s, Ngamiland, like the rest of Botswana, suffered from a series of natural disasters. Severe drought occurred from 1895 to 1897, while huge locust swarms infested the area throughout the decade. Having stored large amounts of grain in his granaries, Sekgoma was, however, able to turn the drought to his political advantage by generously redistributing his surpluses to the needy.

Rinderpest also arrived in Ngamiland in 1896. As in other areas of Botswana, this resulted in the loss of both livestock and wildlife.

From the admittedly anectdotal evidence, it does not appear, however, that nearly as many cattle were killed in the region as in southern and eastern Botswana. Indeed, much of western Ngamiland was said to have been unaffected. This relative good fortune can at least in part be attributed to Sekgoma's efforts in restricting the movement of cattle during the crisis.

Disruptions in nature during the period also led to population migration. Prior to the 1890s, Batawana were concentrated in the south-east around Lake Ngami.

But, in the 1890s, the lake dried up. This resulted in many people relocating further north along the edges of the Okavango Delta, an area that had previously been occupied by fewer people due to the prevalence of tsetse fly.

By the late 1890s the reduction of wildlife in and around the Delta due to rinderpest had resulted in a significant, though temporary, reduction in tsetse fly. It was in this context that Sekgoma moved his own headquarters to Tsau, on the edge of the swamps.

The 1890s further coincided with the activities of one of the most ambitious business ventures of the Protectorate era. 

A group of British businessmen formed a company known as the British West Charterland, Ltd (BWC), with the primary aim of developing Ngamiland's mineral wealth. 

A rival to Cecil Rhodes' British South Africa Company, from the beginning BWC enjoyed Sekgoma's patronage. This was in part due to the fact that BWC recognised Sekgoma, rather than Mmamosadinyana, as the "sovereign of the soil" in Ngamiland. The BWC also strongly supported Batawana claims over the Ghanzi and Boteti regions.

After carrying out extensive geological surveys, the BWC concluded that only minerals possibly worth exploiting were diamonds in the area around Letlakane, whose ownership was then disputed between the Batawana and Bangwato. BWC ambitions were ultimately thwarted when the British government awarded the entire disputed region to Khama III.

As a result, diamonds were only rediscovered in the area during the late 1950s.

Throughout the 1890s Sekgoma Letsholathebe continued to build up his personal following in Ngamiland. Through raids and tribute he was able, even in the face of the 1896 rinderpest epidemic, to accumulate large herds of livestock, which were distributed among loyal commoners as kgamelo or loan cattle.

The identities of over sixty beneficiaries of such patronage are confirmed in colonial records, as well as recorded oral testimony.

Sekgoma also increased his following by taking in orphans as well as impoverished families, who were attached to his cattle posts. Many, if not most, of these clients were Wayeyi. Under Sekgoma they were spared the social indignities associated with bolata or servitude, and continued to be included in hunting and raiding parties.

This, along with the apparent autonomy granted to Mokgwathi as the senior Moyeyi headman at Gumare, helps to explain the subsequent support given by Wayeyi in general for Sekgoma's claims to bogosi.

Another grouping that became loyal to Sekgoma was Ovaherero and Ovambanderu refugees from German atrocities in Namibia. After 1897 these groups began arriving into Ngamiland in large numbers, where they were given sanctuary. The Ovambanderu paramount, Nicodemus, was accepted as Sekgoma's vassal.

Still another group who became staunchly bagaSekgoma were the considerable body of young men who have been described by the late Professor Tlou as the royal "pages". Most of these pages were the sons of prominent non-royal ward heads and/or advisors (basimane ba Kgosi) who Sekgoma had required to reside with him at his royal ward, Kgosing. There he made himself responsible for clothing, housing, and feeding them. In return the pages performed services for the Kgosi, including acting as his royal guard of mounted gunmen.

The latter force was mobilised in 1895 following the death of the Hambukushu ruler Andara, which resulted in new tensions between the Batawana and Balozi (Barotse) of Lewanika. Sekgoma installed Dibebe II as his new vassal ruler over the Hambukushu, but Lewanika backed the rival claims of a brother named Monkoya. As a result Sekgoma moved his men once more into supposed German and Portuguese territories to expel the Balozi by force.

As the Balozi were also supposed to be under a British Protectorate, in 1897 Mmamosadinyana's High Commissioner in South Africa, Lord Milner, dispatched the second ranking Bechuanaland Protectorate official, Goold-Adams, to mediate. The latter proceeded to demarcate a new boundary between the Balozi and Batawana along the Luiana River.

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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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