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Jeff Ramsay


The last few instalments of this extended series have focused on some of the traditions surrounding those Bakalanga communities in Botswana who identify themselves as belonging to either the Balilima or Banyayi sub-groups. Collectively these two groupings have often been referred to as the "Bakalanga Dumbu" or "original Bakalanga".

It would perhaps be more accurate, however, to understand these so-called dumbu communities in terms of the genealogy of their ruling lineages. As we have seen such historical figures as Mosojane, Makulukusa Wumbe, Dalaunde (Ntalaote), Men'we and Wange are remembered through oral traditions as junior members of either the Chibundule (Balilima) or Nichasike (Banyayi) dynasties.

Wider patterns of patrilineal or paternal, as well as matrilineal or maternal, descent within various modern Bakalanga [and indeed other local ethno-linguistic communities] are undoubtedly much more complex. The longstanding reality of migration, intermarriage and assimilation in the region ultimately renders any rigid notions of ethnic purity implausible.

There are in fact many Ikalanga speakers whose patrilineal descent is of non-Bakalanga, often of either Bapedi or Batswana, origin. Although communities traditionally led by such lineages are sometimes labelled by ethnologists as "assimilated groups", their members generally consider themselves to be true Bakalanga based on their mother language and cultural practice.

Some prominent examples of such groupings include the BakaMathangwane, Nswazwi, Selolwane and Tshizwina (Sebina) lineages. Assimilation across ethno-linguistic boundaries is not an exclusive phenomenon. Many Batswana can trace patrilineal descent to what were once non-Setswana communities.

The fluid nature of ethnic identity in the past as well as the fast moving present underscores the absurdity of those who incite inter-ethnic paranoia through the ethnic and/or geographic labelling of individuals. In this respect it might have been both more accurate and progressive if the Vision 2016 document had put forward as a collective ideal the notion of "Unity in dynamic diversity."

As what some would negatively refer to as tribalism, in this context perceived as the perversion of ethnic pride to diminish others at the expense of national unity, accountability, and equity, one is reminded of the Setswana proverb: Lomao lo lo ntlha pedi lo tlhaba kobo le moroki. Bigotry is always a two edged blade.

Perhaps the most prominent example of a historically Ikalanga group that has to a greater extent been integrated into Setswana society are the Batalaote of the Central District, who as we have previously seen are of royal Banyayi origin.

Another example is said to be the Senape (Chenaba) ward of Serowe, who according to a monumental survey published in 1952 by Isaac Schapera, are also said to be of Banyayi origin. The lineage's founder, Nthele, is said to have settled at Domboshaba after Mambo Nichasike took exception to his desire to marry a certain princess. It was Nthele's great-grandson, Mari the son of the ward's namesake Chenaba, who subsequently fled to the Bangwato. This was during the mid-nineteenth century as a result of Amandebele raids.

One can also find among the traditional wards (dikgotla) of Serowe descendents of such legendary Bakalanga as Wange and Sosoma. The latter figure is said to have been a powerful Banabiya traditional doctor.

Of course exploring such origins can become quite sensitive. One of the larger wards in Molepolole has claimed descent from Bakwena royalty in modern times (certainly justified in matrilineal terms), notwithstanding its nineteenth century founder's identification in a number of sources as a Mokalanga.

The Bakalanga bakaNswazwi community, best known for their defiance of Tshekedi Khama's overrule during the reign of their leader She John Madawo Nswazwi VIII (ruled 1912-60), are a prominent example of an originally Bapedi community that has become integrated into Ikalanga culture.

An exception to the above is a branch of the BakaNswazwi who settled in Mochudi during the reign of Kgosi Linchwe I (ruled 1876-1924). This group had apparently found refuge in Kgatleng after their headman, Ramotswetla, remained loyal to the Bangwato Kgosi Matsheng. In 1872 Khama III ousted Matsheng in a battle at Shoshong with armed Bakwena support.

Such historical complexities make any estimation of the percentage of the population who belong to this or that ethnic group problematic, notwithstanding the listing of people in colonial era censuses according to their supposed tribal affiliation.

The 1946 Bechuanaland Protectorate census, for example, gave total population of Bamangwato Tribal Reserve as 100,987 of whom 22,777 were listed as "Kalaka" and 17,850 as "Ngwato".

A closer examination of the data, however, reveals that the Kalaka count excludes some Ikalanga speaking communities. The BakaNswazwi, recorded as numbering 1014, are listed under "Pedi", while other groups such as the Baseleka of Bukalanga, 1184, and Banabiya, 844, etc. (in other words many non-dumbu communities) are also separately listed.

By the same token its not unlikely that the "Kalaka" count may have included a few folks who did not at the time have Ikalanga as their mother tongue.

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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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