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Jeff Ramsay

The prehistory of Bakalanga of north-eastern Botswana and south-western Zimbabwe, along with other historically and linguistically associated Vashona groups is contentious.

Most linguists regard Ikalanga as a separate language, as opposed to dialect, from Chishona, which itself has been standardised in modern times from a variety of existing dialects, e.g. Karanga and Zezuru dialects. Other Chishona dialects or languages notably include Korekore, Ndau and Manyika. It has been suggested by a number of linguists that early Ikalanga may have been the root language of Karanga and other Chishona dialects.

Cultural antecedents of various so-called Bantu speaking groups in the region, including those ancestral to Bakalanga, can be linked to the emergence of early iron age civilisation in the region by the second century AD (if not earlier).

One can further trace the emergence of the Bakalanga and other modern groups to the flowering of late Iron Age civilisation in the region, more especially in the Shashe-Limpopo Basin from the tenth century AD, which scholars believe was accompanied by a significant increase in both human and livestock populations. This is prominently evidenced by the survival of stone walled ruins, madzimbabwe, whose settlements were distributed by the thirteenth century as far as the Mozambique coast on the east and Sowa pan on the west.

While the largest and best known of these is the Great Zimbabwe site, which between 1250 and 1450 is estimated to have at any given time housed 11-18,000 people, numerous smaller early madzimbabwe are located throughout north-eastern Botswana.

Most of the early sites in our country are associated with what have broadly classified as “Zhizo” and subsequent “Leopard’s Kopje” including “Kalundu” pottery styles. Such sites also incorporate a wealth of additional material evidence including glass beads, cowrie’s shells and imported cloth fibres indicating their early connection to the Indian Ocean trade, more especially to the Malay islands we now know as Indonesia.

Here it may be noted that Malay merchant ships of the period were able to sail directly from Southeast Asia to the African coast in about a month using the equatorial trade winds. Beyond the archaeological evidence, the intensity of this early Indonesian connection to the continent is reflected in the Malay colonisation of Madagascar.

The shift from Zhizo to Leopards Kopje ceramics in the Shashe-Limpopo coincides with the emergence of the Mapungubwe Kingdom, which ruled over parts of eastern Botswana, including all of Bobirwa, as well as adjacent areas of Zimbabwe and South Africa. A number of scholars, most notably including the archaeologist Thomas Huffman, have in this context suggested that Mapungubwe can rightfully be considered as the first Bakalanga polity.

Besides   importing   glass   beads,   which   were   accepted   at   the   time   as   a common currency   in   the   region,   Mapungubwe   artisans   recast   glass   into   larger sphere’s   for   interior   trading.   Local   mines   and   smiths   also   produced   a variety of iron and gold objects and implements.

The names of Mapungubwe’s rulers are unknown, our knowledge about the kingdom being almost entirely based on material evidence rather than oral tradition. It was seemingly at its height of its wealth when much of its population abandoned the area in about 1220 AD, a development which experts attribute to a temporary drying up of the region due to   global climate cooling.

It is believed that much of the core of Mapungubwe’s population migrated to the northeast, founding the earliest Vakaranga Kingdom (c.1250-1450);   whose   centre   became   Great Zimbabwe.

The emergence of modern Bakalanga as a distinctive community can more confidently be traced to the rise of new polities after Great Zimbabwe’s abandonment in the mid-15th century, an event that   remains a mystery notwithstanding the common scholarly assumption   that it resulted from environmental pressure.

Oral evidence supports the view that some of Great Zimbabwe’s population moved then north to found the Mutapa state, known to the   Portuguese who settled along the Mozambique coast thereafter as the "Monomotapa".

At about the same time a number of Ikalanga traditions trace the formation of the Butwa or Bakalanga Kingdom to the south-west migration of people from Mutapa during a period of strife fuelled by the Portuguese sponsored expansion of ivory, gold and slave trading into   eastern Zimbabwe. Translated from Masola Kumile:

"Malambodzibwa, also called Munumutapa- It was him who was found by the Portuguese ruling over the Bakalanga. The name Munumutapa means that before he was conquered by the Portuguese, but that now he met them as a friend. It was then that he was attacking other communities, capturing the male and female children, going with them to the villages of his womenfolk and making them his workers, and also some male ones. Other male ones he was taking to the Portuguese. It is thought that slavery started with them, showing them to the Portuguese in the year of 1441 [it was actually several decades later]. Now Munumutapa raided many tribes. At the time he went out with his army, the Portuguese also having their army and they went to attack Mongase. And they killed the people, capturing the things of the people and their families. He raided many places doing his will, capturing the people and giving them to the Portuguese."

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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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