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Jeff Ramsay

In our last episode we left off with the Banyayi Kingdom enjoying peace and relative prosperity when, c. 1826, the Mwali priests warned the Nichasike Mambo Chilisamhulu II of a pending invasion of the "Barwa baKari".

To the south-west of Chilisamhulu's court the charismatic Bangwato Kgosi Kgari aKhama aMathiba had, in response to raids by the Bafokeng bagaPatsa or Makololo of Kgosi Sebetwane, assembled under his leadership a formidable coalition of merafe, including the Babirwa of Malema, Bakaa of Lebelwane, Bakwena faction of Segokotlo (regent to Sechele), Baseleka of Kobe, Batalaote of Matsoga, and Batlokwa of Leshage. From their base in the Khutswe hills Kgari's followers had begun to press upon the borders of the Mambo's kingdom.

The Bo-Kgari invasion, which culminated in a decisive battle at Matopos, was an important turning point. Its significance, however, must be placed in the context of the broader history of beneficial and seemingly largely peaceful contact between the Bakalanga and various other communities in the region.

In tracing the history of the pre-colonial Bakalanga kingdoms of the Balilima and Banyayi this series has attempted to establish the interrelationships that have long existed between the ancestors of modern Bakalanga with those of other communities such as Batswana, Bapedi and Bavenda, as well as various linguistically related Vashona groups. Indeed, as we have seen, members of various modern ethno-linguistic communities often share ancestors, whose common genealogies can still be traced.

Besides blood ties there is a long history of trade, cross-migration and shared culture. In this respect it is notable that the battle between the followers of Kgari and Chilisamhulu is one of the few known examples of pre-colonial era armed conflict between Bakalanga and Batswana. By contrast both Setswana and Ikalanga traditions recall numerous internal conflicts.

Finally, it is notable that the conflict between Kgosi Kgari and Mambo Chilisamhulu is remembered as a mutual tragedy rather than a triumph for its victor.
For generations the Bangwato mourned the passing Kgari who, in the 1871 words of John Mackenzie was remembered as: "The chief whose name is most cherished among the Bamangwato. Brave in the field, wise in the council, kind to his vassals, Khari was all that the Bechuanas desire their chief to be."

In Ikalanga accounts of the Royal House the battle of the Matopos is remembered as the beginning of the end. For in the battles wake Chilisamhulu and his lieutenant, Tombale offended their protector Mwali. As a result the kingdom was left vulnerable. The story as recorded by Kumile, begins:

"Ngobe Barwa baKari bakabebva bakatasela muxango yabaNyayi begwa nabo. Bakatapa n'ombe dzabaNyayi, bakayrnda nadzo kuxango yabo. Ngono bakati bebona kuti batapa n'ombe dzaMambo, bakadzixanganya nedzabo,bakabe dzihisa bakadzibakila pedlo neChibale, muxango yaMambo Nichasike. Bakazwikanya bamasimba beti: "Akuna ungadzitapa tilipo iswi beni badzo.

"Ngono Barwa bakati bachakalingadla maxwe, kukati Mwali kakubona ikoku kukaunhwisa zwogwadza chose, katuma hosan dzidze, kati: 'Indani, munobudza Chilisamhulu.'

"Ngono hosanna dzaMwali dzikayenda kunoleba kuna Mambo kuti: 'Barwa bawobakila n'ombe dzabo muxango iyo. Oku wuti, bakazwimisila paladza xango iyo. Ngono dusa ngwa inobhayana nabo, Barwa baKari, inodzitapa n'ombe dzabo dzose, itapilanye nedzedu dzabakadla. Ngono ngwa yaBanyayi inoti yadzitapa yabuya nadzo, iwe Chilisamhulu udzitole uwodzilesi kundili, ndowoha nkikukobela dzibe dzidzo, imi nditola dzangu dzabake badla. Iwe, ndokupa masimba unowobakunda ukadzidla dzose n'ombe dzabo, nedzedu dzabakadla; dzowobuya dzose dzedu nedzabo."

Translation: "Kgari's followers came to raid in the Banyayi country, fighting with them. They captured Banyayi cattle and went with them to their own country. When the saw that they had raided the cattle of the King (Mambo), they mixed them with their own and brought them and built kraals for them at Chibale, in the country of King Nichasike. They were self-confident, saying: "No one can raid them with us their owners present.

"Mwali saw the Kgari's followers keeping watch and eating madila. This hurt him very much so he sent for his priests and said: 'Go tell Chilisamhulu.

"Then Mwali's priests went to tell the King: "Kgari's people have built for their cattle in your country. This means they are determined to destroy you country. So you must raise up an army and go and fight with them, so that it can raid all their cattle together with those of ours that have been raided.

"Then after the Banyayi army has raided them and returned with them, you, Chilisamhulu, must take them and bring them to me (Mwali) and I shall come to share out yours to you, taking mine that were driven away by them. You, I give you strength to go and conquer them and drive away all their cattle….

"So then the King, when he heard this, that Kgari's people had come to build for their cattle in his country, he sent out an army led by Tombale, the hero of heroes."

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

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.

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”


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.”


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.


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)


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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