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Remembering the unwanted: Lady Ruth Khama(1923-2002)

Ndulamo Anthony Morima

We continue with the series where we remember those of our heroes and heroines who, though unwanted, made immense contributions to the legacy we will be celebrating this year. This week we discuss Lady Ruth Khama who passed away on 22nd May 2002 aged 78.

It is apposite that we start this discussion by giving a brief account of Lady Khama’s life. For this we express our indebtedness to the obituary entitled “Ruth Khama: Bride in 'a marriage of inconvenience'” written by Rupert Cornwell and published in The Independent newspaper on 30th May 2002 from which we shall quote extensively.

Lady Khama was born Ruth Williams in Meadowcourt Road, Eltham in south London on 9th December 1923. She was the daughter of George and Dorothy Williams. She was educated at Eltham Grammar School and then served as a Woman’s Auxiliary Air Force ( HYPERLINK "" o "Women's Auxiliary Air Force" WAAF) ambulance driver at various airfields in the south of England during the Second World War. After the war, she worked as a clerk for   Cuthbert Heath, a firm of Lloyd's of London.

In June 1947, at a dance at Nutford House organized by the London Missionary Society, her sister, Muriel,  introduced her to Seretse Khama, who was studying Law at Inner Temple in London after a year at Balliol College, Oxford. The couple were both fans of jazz music, particularly The Ink Spots, and quickly fell in love.

To some, the suggestion that Lady Khama was unwanted is absurd. Yet she was. The only difference with the people discussed hitherto in this series is that she was not unwanted by the government. Lady Khama’s ‘unwantedness’ is illuminated by the opposition her marriage to Seretse attracted.   

According to Cornwell, Ruth and Seretse’s plans to marry caused controversy with both the apartheid government of South Africa and the tribal elders in Bechuanaland.

According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia “…their marriage was described as "nauseating" by the then Prime Minister of South Africa, Daniel Malan, but as "one of the great love stories of the world" by the then President of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere”.

Cornwell states further that “the least of their problems perhaps was racial prejudice on the part of the public in a colonialist Britain still unaccustomed to interracial marriages. In Seretse's native Bechuanaland, however, his BamaNgwato people were in uproar. Chief Tshekedi Khama, Seretse's uncle and guardian, tried to prevent the young heir throwing in his lot with a member of the race responsible for the subjugation of their nation.”

Cornwell continues to say “…the succession, his uncle believed, was in danger, and Tshekedi was furious. "You have been ruined by others, not by me," he said – and at the time a majority of the BamaNgwato undoubtedly agreed.” At another meeting, The Guardian newspaper reports, Tshekedi said “… I would hand over the leadership to Seretse, but ‘if he brings his white wife here, I will fight him to the death’.

So, Lady Khama was unwanted not only by Tshekedi, but also by his people and the South African government. The British government too intervened in an attempt to stop the marriage. Unfortunately, the Bishop of London, William Wand, would only permit a church wedding if the government agreed.

Against all odds Seretse and Ruth got married at Kensington Register Office in September 1948. But, this came with a price. According to The Guardian newspaper, “… Ruth was sacked from her job, and her father turned her out of the house.”

Seretse and Ruth returned to Bechuanaland, then a British protectorate, where Khama's uncle, Tshekedi Khama, was regent. After receiving popular support in Bechuanaland, Seretse was called to London in 1950 for discussions with British officials.

In an unexpected turn of events Seretse was prevented from returning home. He effectively lived as an exile in England from 1951, living in Croydon. Thankfully, popular support and protest continued in Bechuanaland, and the couple were permitted to return in 1956 after BaNgwato sent a telegram to Queen Elizabeth II.

However, upon his return Seretse renounced his throne, and became a cattle farmer in Serowe. However, in 1963 Seretse was restored to the chieftainship and in 1966, as leader of the Bechuanaland Democratic Party, he became the first president of Botswana when it gained independence.

But, this article is not about Seretse. It is about this extra-ordinary woman who, despite being initially unwanted by her husband’s people, lived in Botswana even after her husband’s death. No doubt, Lady Khama considered herself not only as a Motswana, but also as Mohumagadi Mma Kgosi.

Though it is reported that she never came to master Setswana, Lady Khama proved to be no racist. She embraced those who chastised her simply because of the colour of her skin. She loved Seretse who, though of royal blood, lived an ordinary life in London.

According to an article by Dr. Jeff Ramsay titled “A Life of Service- Lady Ruth Khama” published in the Sunday Standard’s edition of 20th August 2012 “…while in the WAAF, Lady Khama also reportedly encountered white racial prejudice directed against blacks when she took exception to the attitudes expressed by some of her colleagues towards West Indian ground crews. To her this was inconsistent with fighting the repugnant racial beliefs of the Nazis”.

Dr. Ramsay continues to say “…at the end of the war Lady Khama was shifted back to chauffer duties, driving senior staff officers and other VIPs for several months before her demobilisation at the end of 1946”.

Lady Khama, affectionately called “Lady K”, served Batswana not only as First Lady, but also as a community and charity worker. According to the Lady Khama Charitable Trust website “… she formed the inaugural Botswana Council of Women, which provided services for women and their children”.

The website also reports that in her role as First Lady, Lady Khama supported her husband in his role as Head of State as he set about building and running a new nation. Her passion for community service, however, never waned.

In 1968, under Lady Khama’s leadership and guidance, the Botswana Red Cross Society was enacted through an Act of Parliament, making it an independent organization.

Lady Khama was elected founding President, a position that she held until her death.

According to the Lady Khama Charitable Trust website, over her lifetime, Lady Khama made substantial contributions to civil society organizations in Botswana. “…She was founding and first President of the Child to Child Foundation, and set up the Lady Khama Christmas Charity Fund” says the website.

In a more personal capacity, the website reports, Lady Khama was a religious woman, and devoted her time and energy to the Anglican Church’s services for disadvantaged people in local communities.

Consequently, in 1971, in recognition of her contribution to the Botswana Red Cross Society, she was awarded the Red Cross Certificate of Distinguished Service. Posthumously, Lady Khama was further awarded the Red Cross Lifetime Membership in 2008.

Even after Seretse's death in 1980, she continued various charitable works – running women's clubs, acting as president of the Botswana Red Cross Society, and being involved with the Girl Guides movement and the SOS Children’s Villages.

Lady Khama is indeed a heroine who deserves a place in this country’s history. Dr. Ramsay said it all when he said “… something of the quality of her character is reflected in the core Red Cross principles she epitomised and espoused: humanity, impartiality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality.”

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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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