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Stuart White

I am not too sure of what to make of the world at times. One moment it looks more and more like a melting pot with all of the things that bring us closer as human beings and superficial differences ignored or not even noticed. I hope that as a race we are communicating more about these issues and are bringing these to the surface, which of course is healthy and a positive step.

But that’s on a good day!  On the bad ones problems such as stereotyping, racism, and discrimination are not completely vanishing and one thing is clear: more than ever we need to deal with these and learn about them and from them; because co-operation and co-existence is a must in this era.

This is the month when communities around the world celebrate LGBT pride with parades and other festivities. But gatherings are likely to take on a sombre tone after the death of 49 people and injury of 53 more in a mass terrorist shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, last week – the the largest mass killing of gay people in American history.

In cities across the United States, as well as in countries as far away as Israel, Chile, and France (itself the scene of recent deadly terror attacks), people set up memorials and gathered in vigils for the victims of the Orlando attack. World landmarks have been lit up from the Eiffel Tower in France to the Sydney Bridge in Australia – all in a show of solidarity.

In Manhattan last Sunday, mourners gathered outside of the Stonewall Inn, where 47 years ago in June, a group of gay patrons of the bar fought back against the routine police raids that had targeted them. The event was a catalyst in the modern gay rights movement. The gatherings around the world last Sunday are a reminder that, while violence and intolerance toward LGBT individuals and groups is nothing new, neither is the desire to push for equal treatment and cultural tolerance. And how things are changing…

To see how far we have come let’s compare the reaction of the Orlando killings with a New Orleans bar attack in 1973 which killed 32 people at a time of pernicious anti-gay stigma.  Coverage of the fire by news outlets minimized the fact that LGBT patrons had constituted the majority of the victims, while editorials and talk radio hosts made light of the event. A joke that made the rounds in workplaces and was repeated on the radio was: “Where will they bury the queers?  In fruit jars!”  (For younger readers, that was a play on 2 common derogatory terms for gay people back then.)  Churches refused to bury the victims’ remains.

Their deaths were mostly ignored and sometimes mocked by politicians and the media. No government officials made mention of the fire and as Robert Camina, director of a documentary about the fire said in 2013, “I was shocked at the disproportionate reaction by the city government. The city declared days of mourning for victims of other mass tragedies in the city. It shocked me that despite the magnitude of the fire, it was largely ignored.”

Outpourings of grief from politicians and everyday people have followed the Orlando shooting, but for those who remember the fire in the New Orleans bar, years ago, its lonely memory has loomed large over conversations about the carnage this week at the Pulse Nightclub. The fire was an open wound for the gay community in New Orleans for years. No one was charged with the attack, and a man viewed by many as the primary suspect was never arrested. He committed suicide a year after the blaze – enough said.
Mike Moreau, who lost several friends in the Orlando fire, said he was struck by all the differences between then and now, but also by the familiarity of tragedy’s dull ache. “What happened to us had to be kept so private,” said Mr. Moreau. “The public didn’t want to know about it, and if they heard about it they didn’t care — ‘Thank God, they’re gone, they deserved it’ was the attitude. To see the outpouring of love and support that these poor families have gotten is fantastic.” . “They are hurting the same way we hurt, but at least they know that the world supports them and understands their grief.”

The difference today is that LGBT people now have a place at the table that they did not have then. The outpouring of support for the victims in Orlando must be seen as an uplifting sign of progress as is allowing Botswana’s  LEGABIBO to be registered – small but important steps.

But of course this isn’t really just an issue about LGBT rights – LGBT is a metaphor for any group that might be seen as a minority, be they blacks, whites, Jews, Muslim or any category which others don’t agree with ideologically, politically or aesthetically. Whether it is a terrorist attack on the people of France or devotees at a Muslim mosque we must collectively stand up to this form of fundamentalist bullying and say we will neither tolerate intolerance nor wickedness and evil.

We will not sweep hate under the carpet or bury our head in the sand like we did during the Holocaust, Rwanda or the New Orleans bar. John Donne wrote ‘Every man’s death diminishes me’ and he made no proviso that they should be of this creed or that, this colour or that, this sexual orientation or that.  And for his poetic  ‘every man’ read ‘every person’ – as human beings we know what is right, we have a moral compass and we should be using it and call others when they don’t!

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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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