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Remembering the unwanted: Dr. Knight Maripe

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

We continue with the series where we remember those of our heroes and heroines who, though unwanted by government, made immense contributions to the legacy we will be celebrating this year. After starting with Dr. Kenneth Shololo Koma, this week we discuss Dr. Knight Maripe who was born in April 1927 at Mapoka village in the North East District of Botswana.

In remembering Dr. Maripe’s contributions we shall not pretend that he was without fault. His failures and faults will be exposed with the same vigor as his achievements and successes will. Yet, emphasis will be made that his faults notwithstanding he deserves a place in our country’s history. He at least deserves a mention when we celebrate fifty years of independence.

One of Dr. Maripe’s contributions to our country is that he led by example and instilled in his followers the importance of education. In his tribute to Dr. Maripe published in Mmegi’s edition of 17th November 2006, University of Botswana Media Studies Lecturer, Letshwiti Tutwane, shows how Dr. Maripe valued education.

Tutwane states that “…after winning a scholarship he moved to Ohlange Institute in South Africa where he matriculated in 1951. He later did a Diploma in Industrial Relations at Ruskin College at Oxford University. In 1973 he graduated with a Diploma in Development Economics at Bath University, still in the United Kingdom… In December 1974 Maripe graduated with a Master's Degree in Labour Studies from Sussex University in the UK”.

Though Tutwane stated in the said tribute that he did not find a record that Dr. Maripe completed a Doctorate of Philosophy in Labour Studies at Sussex University in the UK as he asserted, Dr. Maripe’s value for education is an inspiration.

If Dr. Maripe indeed never attained the doctoral qualification, the qualification should be posthumously conferred on him. Certainly, Dr. Maripe’s educational qualifications and contribution to our country’s development is more than for many people who have been honored with doctoral degrees.

Undoubtedly, Dr. Maripe, just like Dr. Koma, has led to the development of an Intelligentsia which has contributed to our country’s development. Many who read for such disciplines as Law, Political Science and Economics did so because they were following Dr. Maripe’s beacon.

Himself a Kalanga, one of the contributions Dr. Maripe made was to fight for the recognition of the Kalanga. According to Tutwane, “…it was Maripe together with the late Richard Mannathoko and Chris Dambe, amongst others, who, in 1945, formed the Bakalanga Student Association, annoyed by what they saw as marginalization of their people by the colonial regime.”

Still motivated by his passion for education, Dr. Maripe ensured that one of the aims of the Bakalanga Student Association was to seek for scholarships for the Bakalanga people. Though there is no record of who benefited from such scholarships it is clear that this helped in the growth of the Kalanga intelligentsia who, until the 1980s, dominated the civil service.

Perhaps Dr. Maripe’s greatest contribution was the development of Opposition politics. His first political home was the Botswana National Front (BNF) which he, in the 1967 general elections, represented in the Tati West constituency contest, but lost to an equally capable leader, Kenneth Nkhwa. This is another giant who deserves to be remembered as we celebrate fifty years of independence.

Dr. Maripe’s political life was, however, spent mostly at the Botswana Peoples' Party (BPP). In July 1982 he was elected President of the BPP, the party he led for many years albeit with limited success. This despite the fact that, as Tutwane writes, Dr. Maripe “…was a giant in Zimbabwean politics and his name remains in the country's history books and archival records.”

According to Tutwane, “…in 1952, ( Dr. Maripe), together with Nkomo, Grey Bango and Benjamin Burongo, formed the All African Convention…After that he got involved in the Bulawayo Branch of the Bantu Congress and the Southern Rhodesian African National Congress (SRANC)”.

It ought to be stated that one of Dr. Maripe’s failures was his inability to grow the BPP to a national party. Under his leadership, and the trend has unfortunately continued to date, the BPP remained a regional party confined to the Northern part of the country, with a membership of mainly the Bakalanga people.

It is difficult to believe that the BPP is the first political movement in Botswana having been formed in December 1960 by Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete and Phillip Matante.

The BPP, formerly the Bechuanaland Peoples Party (BPP), was the first mass party to agitate for full independence, but failed to attain state power during the first general elections.

The late Mr. Motsamai Mpho was the BPP’s Secretary General. Unfortunately, internal conflict on the eve of the first general elections of 1965 resulted in a split and the birth of a new party – the Bechuanaland Independence Party (BIP) under the leadership of Mr. Motsamai Mpho.

Consequently, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), formerly the Bechuanaland Democratic Party, took advantage of the split and the infighting and won the 1965 general elections in a landslide victory, taking 28 of the 31 contested seats. Disappointingly, the BPP only won three seats. Neither Dr. Motsete's BPP nor Mr. Mpho's BIP secured a single seat.

The BIP, however, won a single seat in 1966, but lost it in the 1979 general elections. The BIP suffered the same plight of being a regional and tribal party that the BPP suffered and continues to suffer today. Fortunately, unlike the BIP, which virtually ceased to exist when Mpho became incapacitated by old age and ill health, the BPP has continued to exist albeit in a comatose state.

Having served as president of the Trade Union Congress of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (Malawi) and been a member of the radical Railway African Workers Union (RAWU), many in the ruling BDP spread the propaganda that Dr. Maripe should not to be trusted since he can bring instability to this country.

The BDP spread fear that given his trade union back ground and involvement in Zimbabwe’s politics, Dr. Maripe would use the same tactics to destabilize our country. The BDP used the fact that Dr. Maripe had on occasion been jailed for political activism while in Zimbabwe to embellish its claim.

Contrary to this propaganda, Dr. Maripe proved the BDP wrong. Under his leadership the BPP accepted electoral defeat and never did anything that threatened our country’s security, peace and stability. So, as we celebrate fifty years of independence and peaceful co-existence we should remember that Dr. Maripe contributed to the peace and stability we are enjoying today.

Like every human being, Dr. Maripe’s life was not without blemish. His insistence on addressing political rallies in English portrayed him as elitist, alienating possible supporters. His occasional use of Ikalanga, which some say was poor, in political rallies did not help the situation either. It confirmed his adversaries’ claim that he was a tribalist who was not interested in nation building but promoting dominance by the Bakalanga.

At his funeral former BPP Secretary General and High Court judge, Justice John Mosojane, defended Dr. Maripe saying “Dr. Maripe was concerned about the use of mother tongue languages such as Ikalanga in schools and other public places. Because of his thirst in the use of other vernacular languages other than Setswana, Dr. Maripe addressed his political rallies in English and Ikalanga…” Judge Mosojane also said Dr. Maripe was a true patriot who hated racism, domination and marginalization of other groups.

Still at Dr. Maripe’s funeral, the then BPP President Mr. Bernard Balikani stated that Dr. Maripe participated immensely in fighting for the voting age to be reduced from 21 to 18 years. He also said Dr. Maripe led the BPP through successful protests, one of them being the one against the imposition of specially elected councillors by the BDP in 1984.

He also said Dr. Maripe led the BPP into Opposition unity talks in 1989, which unfortunately later collapsed.

Dr. Maripe’s shortcomings notwithstanding, he is no doubt a hero who deserves mention as we celebrate our country’s 50th anniversary of independence. Though his contribution to our country’s politics cannot be compared to that of such giants as Dr. Koma, he contributed significantly to the growth of our democracy.  

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

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.

POSITIVITY
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”

UNDERSTANDING

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.”

COMMITMENT

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.

ACCEPTANCE

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)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

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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