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Stuart White

There’s a series of adverts running on DSTV at the moment where a group of business leaders are put in one room and a group of teenagers and pre-teens in another.  The business leaders are then given a smart device showing different apps and asked to explore or define them.  The teens sit in the other room watching  their fumbling, bumbling attempts, after which the 2 are brought together to allow the young people to explain to the middle-aged muddlers what they are looking at, how it works and what its purpose is.

It’s actually a bit demeaning and not very accurate.  None of these South African managers apparently know that Spree is an online shopping site, even though it’s fairly well promoted and a frequent pop-up on dozens of high-traffic sites. At the conclusion of one of the ads one male manager looks at the group of youngsters and asks, “Don’t you people shop in malls anymore?” to which they all shake their heads.

Well, let’s unpack that for a moment.  The implication is that kids now do all their clothes and other consumer shopping online which is unlikely for one very good reason.  On-line purchasing requires a credit card and teens and pre-teens, unless they come from very wealthy, laissez-faire type families are unlikely to qualify for, or be permitted to carry, their own credit card.  They may, and probably do, spend a lot of time browsing online but they still have to approach mom and dad for permission to buy, so their purchasing power comes with an adult override switch and filter.

Also, the shopping mall is a communal meeting place, offering a range of fast-food restaurants and cafés, cinema complexes, niche boutiques and market stalls.  Young people may be addicted to the smartphone experience, social media and apps for almost everything but so far they’re still scavenging mall rats after school and during weekends they can lay out their cash and buy without parental control.

But of course the main thrust of the ad is still valid; that no service or supply company today, particularly one that is aimed at a younger consumer, can afford not to have an interactive website, a Twitter and Facebook feed and an accessible App.  Botswana may not be there yet but RSA is well on the way and in Europe and the USA, life via phone, smart device, computer or tablet is the norm.  Take eating out.  Here, when we decide we’d like to go out for supper, we’re still Neanderthal enough to take a mental trawl through all the local restaurants and make our selection from local knowledge and past experience. 

It’s been a while since we went to Restaurant X – time we went back.  Someone said that new place in Mall Y was quite good – let’s give it a try.  But stateside, particularly in larger towns and cities, would-be diners rather hit up their smartphones to see what places are advertising in their chosen area.  From there they proceed to the restaurant’s app or website page to preview the menu, prices and facilities, check out any feedback reviews other customers might have posted and study the directions to get there. Then and only then will they be able to come to a decision as to which lucky eatery will have the pleasure of their company tonight. 

As for shopping, where once canny consumers clipped coupons from pull-outs that came with the local paper, now the coupon and barcode are available on your phone and you simply offer it to the cashier on check-out who scans direct from your cell phone screen.  No more paper trail, not more tedious cutting out, no more cursing because you left the coupon at home – what’s not to like?  And then of course there’s interactive SatNav.  Apple’s voice-responsive Siri will not only guide you to where you want to go, just give ‘her’ the name of the store you want to visit and ‘she’ will give you a list of those branches nearest to where you are at any given moment.

‘She’ will also tell you how far they are and when you make a choice, you’ll receive verbal directions on how to get there by car or on foot.  So now you can drive to a new town and immediately be directed to the nearest Walmart, Target or Borders bookstore if retail therapy is what you have in mind.  Siri will also help you find a hotel for the night, a restaurant to eat in, a gym to work out in, a doctor’s surgery if you feel unwell and a school to enrol your kids in if you decide to relocate.  How did the Western world ever get along with Siri’s encyclopaedic local know-how?

And it’s all available from a phone.  Two decades ago our lives were changed with the advent of the Personal Computer and the World Wide Web.  A decade ago we marvelled at the connectivity of the miniaturised laptop or tablet, along with Wi-Fi internet access.  And today all we need is our cell phone to enhance and expand our every conceivable leisure activity.

George Orwell taught us to beware of Big Brother but you have to wonder now whether the real dark force today isn’t our Big Sister, Siri!  At any rate, if you want to run a successful business, it’s as well to have her on your side.

STUART WHITE is the Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on 395 1640 or at  HYPERLINK ""   

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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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