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Jeff Ramsay

We last left off in 1897 with Major Hamilton Goold-Adams, on behalf of Mmamosadinyana's High Commissioner in South Africa, Lord Milner, demarcating a new boundary between the Balozi and Batawana along the Luiana River.

The arrival of Goold-Adams' report caused considerable concern at the Colonial Office in London, as he had ignored internationally recognised German and Portuguese claims over the entire disputed region. This did not stop Sekgoma from continuing to collect tribute on his side of the Luiana boundary line.

Throughout the 1890s Kgosi Sekgoma often found himself at odds with colonial authority. As with the case of his southern contemporaries Dikgosi Bathoen I, Linchwe I, and Sebele I, the cause of much of Sekgoma's initial conflict was rooted in the corrupt relationship that then existed between the Mafikeng authorities and Cecil Rhodes' British South Africa or Chartered Company (BSACo).

It the context of consistent colonial backing of BSACo interests prior to the 1896 Jameson Raid, it is not surprising that Batawana claims over the Ghanzi and Boteti regions were rejected.

In 1893 a Chartered Company agent named Bosman had further tricked Sekgoma into signing a document granting the BSACo defacto control over Ngamiland. But, Sekgoma, with backing from the rival British West Charterland Company, was able to successfully challenge the validity of the Bosman concession.

The 1894 arrival of the first British magistrate, Lieutenant Walshe, led to conflict of a different sort. Walshe called for Sekgoma's removal, but instead ended up being removed himself for his personal indiscretions.
Shortly after his arrival, Walshe had paid ten pounds sterling to a Motawana kgosana for the services of a female lelata named Ngwananaalolwapa, who became his concubine. The occasional sale of malata to outsiders in Ngamiland had by then been going on for some decades.

When Sekgoma called for Walshe's impropriety to be investigated, he had the strong support of the London Missionary Society. A Captain Fuller was sent to investigate the scandal, which resulted in Walshe's dismissal.

Walshe was replaced by a new magistrate named Phipps.  In line with colonial policy Phipps tried to assert his administrative and judicial authority over Sekgoma. At one point Phipps called for reinforcements after allegedly being threatened by Sekgoma, who continued to insist that he remained the supreme ruler in Ngamiland.

Shortly thereafter Phipps died and was replaced by Merle Williams, not to be confused with his superior the Bechuanaland Protectorate Resident Commissioner Ralph Williams. Both of these men ultimately brought about Sekgoma's removal from power by linking colonial interests to those of the royal headmen who insisted that Moremi's son Mathiba was the rightful ruler.

It was some time, however, before the British were even aware that Sekgoma's claim to bogosi was challenged. This is in part due to Sekgoma's clever use of forged and fraudulent documents.

Perhaps inspired by the trickery of Rhode's agents, Sekgoma had documents drawn up showing that Khama III, as well as his own royal relatives had all accepted him as the true Kgosi at the time of Moremi's death. A number of Batawana dikgosana had apparently been forced to sign the documents.

But, in 1905, by which time Mathiba was a young adult, the same dikgosana moved against Sekgoma with Khama's backing. The resulting British intervention culminated in one of the most important legal challenges of the entire colonial era.

At the core of those opposed to Sekgoma's desire to retain power were his royal relatives. Among these dikgosana were men of considerable wealth and followings in their own right. With the support of the Bangwato Kgosi Khama III, they had arranged for Mathiba to be sent for further education to Lovedale College in the Cape Colony.

By 1905 Mathiba was seventeen, giving rise to increased calls for his return and installation. At this critical juncture Sekgoma weakened his own position by instituting divorce proceedings against his respected second wife, Bitsang, who happened to be Khama's niece.

Sekgoma apparently desired the divorce due to Bitsang's failure to produce an heir. In this respect it is perhaps worth noting that, despite well-documented relationships with many women throughout his life, Sekgoma is not known to have fathered any children. This is true notwithstanding the fact that before his death he recognised a supposed son named David as his heir.

Despite threats and beatings, Bitsang refused to leave Sekgoma resulting in a divorce trial that was held in Francistown. Because Bitsang and her followers failed to respond to the trial's summons, Sekgoma was able to win a one sided judgement by accusing his wife of adultery with some of his prominent opponents.

When news of the proceedings filtered back to Ngamiland they caused uproar. One of the seemingly slandered individuals was Wethootsile the son of Sekgoma's original patron Dithapo. As a result the Dithapo joined Bo-Mogalakwe and other longstanding supporters of Mathiba in plotting Sekgoma's overthrow.

Conditions for a coup were favourable. From Francistown Sekgoma had travelled to Kimberly, seeking medical attention. In his absence the conspirators gained critical access to Sekgoma's papers when his secretary, Rampodu, joined them.

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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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