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Remembering the unwanted: Dr. Knight Maripe

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

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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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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