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Iqbal Ebrahim

Since time immemorial the values of good conduct, courtesy and respect have been the corner stone of human teachings in all of the cultures and traditions worldwide, this includes Setswana culture. Regrettably in our haste to embrace modern culture and values, we tend to ape the worst of them forgetting those perennial ones that we grew up with through our cultural and traditional upbringing.

Conduct, courtesy and respect are linked to and play a major role in our behaviour and morals. In Islam it goes much further because it embraces the whole of one’s personal, public, social, economic and spiritual life as well as all those that pertain to the body, mind and soul. Courtesy and respect translate into good conduct and behaviour and this into good character, this then leads to good actions and good deeds.

Islam prescribes a code of conduct for its followers through the Qur’an and teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). ‘Serve Allah and join not any partners with Him; and do good – to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours unto you and neighbours far, the fellow traveller and the wayfarer………’(Qur’an 4: 16). The showing of kindness, courtesy and respect are the basic elements that are described in this verse. Further the Qur’an states; ‘Allah commands you justice, the doing of good, the giving to kinsfolk, and forbids all shameful deeds and injustice and rebellion…’ (16: 90). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said; ‘He who is devoid of kindness is devoid of good’.  

The cornerstone of Islamic behaviour is based on rights and obligations; the rights of others and our obligation towards them and vice versa. Our conduct both in private and public life are a mirror to our morals and behaviour. The manner in which we act will determine the manner in which people will treat you.

The world today is filled with the lack of courtesy and with disrespect, we just have to look around and observe. I suppose I am classified as an ‘elder’ (age wise) in society maybe that is why these things worry me greatly and I am sure I am not alone in this. Just as a simple example, walk anywhere, in the street or at any mall and if you see a group of young people walking abreast towards you, more often than not it will be you, the elder, that gives them way to pass, very seldom will they give way to you except, if they see you are standing your ground not going to give way.

In the past, courtesy and respect were essential teachings in any home, even the schools emphasised and taught these basics. But now these are slowly being whittled away simply because some parents are very poor role models for their children because of their own behavioural patterns. As oft repeated children may not listen to what you tell them to do, but they will most likely follow what you do.

In some homes there are parents do not teach their children the basics of  respect and behaviour; the fallout result of this can be that when the teacher tries to instil these values in the children at school, some parents come running to ‘scold’ the teacher.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it”. (Proverbs 22:6).

Up to recently all elders, not only family members, were treated with great deference and respect, very seldom did one hear children scream and shout at elders. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘He who does not respect the elders amongst us and is not merciful upon the young is not one of us.’

Islam has made it a duty and an obligation for children to show respect for their parents. ‘And we have enjoined on man kindness to parents’. (Qur’an 46:15) and ‘your Lord has decreed that …… you show kindness to your parents….. say not a word of contempt…but address them in terms of honour (Qur’an 17:23).

The Bible echoes the same: “For God commanded saying; honour thy father and mother (Mat 15:4)”

Showing respect is not only limited to our parents but it has to be to society at large.  Being courteous and respectful is shown in the manner we treat our fellow humans. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught mankind the golden rules for maintaining peace and goodness within communities when he said: “Do not envy one another, do not harbour malice against one another and do not enter into a commercial transaction when another person has already entered into that (transaction) (i.e. Do not under-cut his deal); but be you brothers to each other.”

Similar guidance is also given in the Bible: “Let your speech be always be with grace” (Col. 4:6). Also: “Put therefore…… lots of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man has a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do you. And above all these things put on charity, which is a bond of perfectness.” (Col 3: 12-14)

A quote from a writer captures and describes the essence and importance of respect in a person. ‘An orphan is not only the one who has no parents; but it is also he who is deprived of respect, etiquette and knowledge.’

Showing a sense of concern for and trying to help those in any difficulty or need is regarded as a form Ibadah (worship) because one is fulfilling the requirement of The Almighty to show compassion and concern for fellow humans. This selfless service to mankind is part of worship of The Creator. One will gain great reward in this world as well as in the next. Only a true believer of The Almighty will be able to serve others in a selfless manner.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was reported to have explained that one who fulfils the need and removes the difficulty of another, will get the help of The Almighty in time of his own need or difficulty.  

Allah Almighty has also declared, “And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw (yourselves) into destruction (by refraining from spending in the cause of Allah).  And do good; indeed Allah loves the doers of good.”(Qur’an 2: 195).

This spending is not only referring to material wealth but indeed any  and all resources that The Almighty bestows upon a person – wealth, energy, skill, time, etc.

Our conduct, courtesy and respect for others are what makes us or breaks us, when we put these into practice in our daily lives without realising it we will have touched the hearts of others.

I recently read a beautiful piece that I want to share with readers: “In life if you are intelligent, you may be admired. If you are wealthy you may be envied. If you are powerful you may be feared. But if you are blessed with a good heart, you will always be remembered. It is not about wealth, power or intellect, but the legacy you leave behind for those people whose hearts you have touched.”

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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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