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Anderson saga needs clarity

 

David Magang           

VIEW FROM MANA HOUSE

The deportation of the homophobic and roundly vexatious American clergyman Steven Anderson on the instructions of President Ian Khama on Tuesday September 20th hardly elicited my sympathy. What I found mystifying in the extreme was why he was given the green light to cross into the country in the first place, when other countries such as the UK and neighbouring South Africa only recently red-flagged him and well before he set foot on their territory. Whereas worthy men such as Aliko Dangote are kept well at bay practically on a whim, the dregs of society personified in Anderson are eagerly given the benefit of the doubt. The irony boggles the mind. 

According to press reports, Anderson arrived in Botswana on Thursday September 15th to commission a branch of his Arizona-based Faithful World Baptist Church, a sect he founded in December 2005. On Sunday, he even spoke from the pulpit, punctuating the same anti-gay standpoint about which he so vehemently sounded off on GabzFM on the morning he was ejected from Botswana. Yet our law enforcement agents pounced only when he was heard on radio – six days too late.  Certainly, if he hadn’t featured on Breakfast With Reg, he would still be doing the rounds in Gaborone (he said he was smitten by the Arizona-like country weather-wise and by its clubbable and crime-averse people), spewing forth his signature prejudice with wild abandon. 

As far removed as he is from our part of the world, Anderson is not some obscure oddball.  The unorthodox pastor hit the acmes of notoriety in July this year when he toasted to the massacre of 49 people by a deranged gunman in Orlando, Florida. Anderson’s twisted logic, which ignited widespread anger, was that the victims got their just desserts because they were patrons of a gay night club.  “The good news is that there’s 50 less paedophiles in this world, because, you know, these homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts and paedophiles,” he ranted in a 4-minute video-taped mini-sermon dedicated to saluting just this atrocity.

Rather than exult at the fact that there were 53 survivors in the same carnage as any normal human being should, Anderson actually piled on the scorn, miffed that they continued to draw breath when government should by rights have subjected them to lethal injection for their morally indefensible sexual orientation. “The bad news is that a lot of the homos in the bar are still alive,” he regretted. Their inevitable doom he gloatingly pronounced thus: “Fifty people in a gay bar that got shot up, they were gonna die of AIDS, and syphilis, and whatever else. They were all gonna die early, anyway, because homosexuals have a 20-year shorter life-span than normal people, anyway …”

Such vitriol, such odious views, stem not from the voice of sanity but from that of a lunatic and that is putting it mildly.

 

MAN OF GOD WITH ACERBIC TONGUE?

 

For a man who professes to be a rule-abiding Christian chapter and verse, Steven Anderson’s gay-bashing diatribes are not entirely baseless as he points to a scripture in the King James corpus – the only version of the Bible he calls "holy" and permits in his church.  What rankles with me is his strident tone and the abhorrent lengths to which he goes in voicing a sense of disgust. 

In an August 16 profanity-laced sermon he titled, “I Hate Obama”, Anderson hurled opprobrium at the president for exhibiting a “ungodly” tolerance for homosexuals, supporting abortion rights, and the consequent “lewdness” he had supposedly foisted on American society. “When I go to bed tonight,” he thundered, “I’m going to pray that Barack Obama goes to Hell.” He is also said to have told a gay radio host that, “If you are homosexual, I hope you get brain cancer”.    

The Mail & Guardian reports that a 59-year-old man who came to listen to Anderson’s sermon at the same church he had come to officially open here in Gaborone was angrily tossed from pillar to post by Anderson’s no-nonsense escorts for refusing to make a mandatory declaration of sexual orientation at the entrance. He was roughed up right in the precincts of the “House of God” when he should have been treated with a sufferance and indulgence which sets Christianity apart from most other faiths. On top of that, he was accused of “having AIDS” and berated for his “AIDS-filled mouth” as he was to all intents and purposes a homosexual. 

Listening to a podcast of the GabzFM debate, I was staggered by Anderson’s brashness and effrontery. Referring to one of the discussants, an advocate for gay rights, he said, on mere assumption, that, “He has sex with little boys and strangers — and, if you have not done it yet, you will do it in future.” A reverend who also participated in the debate later described his encounter with the foul-mouthed Anderson as, “very, very tense. It was like being in a physical fight. At one point, Anderson pushed his finger against my forehead and called me a fake pastor.”

Maybe Anderson did not exactly go beyond the pale after all. The very icons and paragons of the Christian faith haven’t been particularly restrained in venting outrage. Jesus called the Pharisees a “brood of vipers” (MATTHEW 23:33). John the Baptist made a hobby of openly castigating King Herod Antipas as an “adulterer” (MATTHEW 14:1-13). The sons of Zebedee asked Jesus to rain down a firestorm blaze on those who resisted the gospel (LUKE 9:54). In a letter to the Church at Galatia, the great Apostle Paul minced no words when he wrote, “I wish that those who are upsetting you would castrate themselves!” (GALATIANS 5:12). But that is a different juncture in history with its own cultural mores and eccentricities we’re not under obligation to adopt in our day and age: in modern-day Christendom, it is an a priori assumption that a so-called Man of God ought to be measured in his rhetoric, that he should guard against intemperate and inflammatory outbursts. 

 

A SCRAPPY TEMPERAMENT

 

Yet the one thing we should be wary of is not to accord Steven Anderson, a wily character if there was one, a publicity platform he craves but which he does not remotely merit.     It is clear to   me that the main reason he’s gone out of his way to court headline-grabbing controversy stems from a desperate attempt to shore up his pitiful membership  numbers.

I gather that his church, which doubles as the setting for his fire alarm installation business, operates out of an office space in a strip mall. When it is a full house, the office-cum-church    is peopled by no more than 150 congregants, about 30 of whom are children.

Although he has never been to seminary and holds no theological credentials of any sort, Anderson boasts, on his website, that he has “well over 140 chapters of the Bible memorised word-for-word, including approximately half of the New Testament”. One of the scriptures that he has so loyally committed to heart and fulfilled to the letter is the enjoinder to “be fruitful and multiply”. At only age 35 and having married at age 20, Anderson parades a brood of 9 children, some of whom look like sets of twins when they are not. 

Whereas one of the beatitudes in Jesus’s famous Sermon on the Mount says, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth”, Anderson is far from passive, acquiescent, or compliant. To the contrary, he is belligerent, defiant, and intransigent. In April 2009, a US newspaper reported that when border patrol agents flagged him down and demanded that they search his car, he refused either to roll down the windows or get out of his car, triggering a 90-minute stand-off that only ended when police smashed the window, yanked him out of the car, and shocked him with tasers in a bid to tame him.

Anderson clearly is no type to offer the other cheek when push comes to shove. He’s lucky he’s lily-white: if he was black, he would have been pumped full of lead instead of being simply tasered as that is America’s newly-fangled way of waging a pogrom against the black population. 

 

MAN, WHO MADE YOU JUDGE OVER FELLOW MAN?

 

In Steven Anderson’s tragicomic world, a homosexual belongs to the gallows, the firing squad, the gas chamber, the electric chair. They all must be rounded up as a matter of routine, led to the market place in manacles, and pelted with stones till they are reduced to a pulp for making a Sodom and Gomorrah of the society they adulterate.   “The biggest hypocrite in the world is the person who believes in the death penalty for murderers but not for homosexuals,” he bellows.

Anderson points to LEVITICUS 20:13 as his rallying cry. It says, “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives.”  But scripture should not be cherry-picked: it must be rigorously cross-checked with what other scriptures assert in similar  situations in light of the Lord’s admonition that under the New Covenant, we’re not under the draconian, eye-for-an-eye Old Covenant jurisprudence (MATTHEW 5:38).  As important, it must be properly contextualised. One has to take into account the theocratic paradigms of Old Testament systems of rule with their emphasis on puritanical obedience in that  age of virtual serdom.

Anderson must be reminded that ours is a dispensation in which the law of grace supersedes that of Shariah-like retributive justice.  A story is told in JOHN 8:3-11, whereby the Pharisees dragged before Jesus a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. According to the Torah, the Law of Moses, she was supposed to be stoned to death. Jesus first reacted by drawing a line in the sand, then dared any single one of the Pharisaic mob to cast the first stone at her if he himself had never indulged in at least one act of immorality before.  Everybody was chastened: they all slunk away one by one, with their heads hanging in shame.

Anderson ought to take cognisant of the truism that fallible man is not competent to judge fellow man: only God is. Saint James underscored this point when he said, “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbour?” (JAMES 4:12).

 

GOVERNMENT MUST CLEAR AMBIGUITIES

 

That said, I wish to seek clarity from the relevant authorities on one or two things that concern me in the context of the Anderson expulsion.

First, was Anderson forewarned by government before he set foot in the country that Botswana was no place for his incendiary anti-gay mouth-offs? Was he lured into an ambush with a view to make him provide the proverbial rope with which to hang himself? For if I recall correctly, in 2014 our Labour and Home Affairs minister did serve timely notice on Pastor Lesego Daniel of Rabboni Centre Ministries in Ga-Rankuwa, Gauteng Province, that if he coaxed Batswana into gorging on fresh, churchyard grass as he was in the habit of doing in his home country to his own flock, he would be thrown out of the country forthwith.

Second, exactly what is government’s position at present on “unnatural” sexual acts? Sections 164, 165, and 167 of the Penal Code  plainly  makes homosexuality, lesbianism, bestiality, etc,  criminal offenses that may attract jail sentences of between 5 to 7 years. Even   Justice Terrence Rannoane, when he pronounced for the freedom of association viz–a-viz LEGABIBO (Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana)  in November 1914  did emphasise the fact that homosexuality nonetheless remained a transgression against the law.  The Penal Code,  along with  the prohibitively steep alcohol levy, may in all probability have emboldened Anderson to speak with the temerity he did against both homosexuals and local pastors who did not make a priority of preaching temperance. 

Thirdly and finally, when Anderson was booted out of the country, what specific clause spelt out his fate? In South Africa, when Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba   prevented Anderson from entering the country, he invoked Section 29 1 (d) of the Immigration Act which categorically  bars  anyone who is  “a member of or adherent to an organisation advocating the practice of racial hatred or social violence” from coming to South Africa. Does our law lay down in black and white a likewise clause?   

   

           

 

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Appendicitis: Recognising the Signs

29th March 2022

Many a times I get clients casually walking into my room and requesting to be checked for “appendix”.  Few questions down the line, it is clear they are unaware of where the appendix is or what to expect when one does have it (appendicitis). Jokingly (or maybe not) I would tell them they would possibly not be having appendicitis and laughing as hard as they are doing. On the other hand, I would be impressed that at least they know and acknowledge that appendicitis is a serious thing that they should be worried about.

So, what is Appendicitis?

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix; a thin, finger-like pouch attached to the large intestine on the lower right side of the abdomen. Often the inflammation can be as a result of blockage either by the faecal matter, a foreign body, infection, trauma or a tumour. Appendicitis is generally acute, with symptoms coming on over the course of a day and becoming severe rapidly. Chronic appendicitis can also occur, though rarely. In chronic cases, symptoms are less severe and can last for days, weeks, or even months. 

Acute appendicitis is a medical emergency that almost always ends up in the operating theatre. Though the appendix is locally referred to as “lela la sukiri”, no one knows its exact role and it definitely does not have anything to do with sugar metabolism. Appendicitis can strike at any age, but it is mostly common from the teen years to the 30s.

Signs to look out for

If you have any of the following symptoms, go and see a Doctor immediately! Timely diagnosis and treatment are vital in acute appendicitis;

Sudden pain that starts around the navel and shifts to the lower right abdomen within hours

The pain becomes constant and increases in severity (or comes back despite painkillers)

The pain worsens on coughing, sneezing, laughing, walking or deep breaths

Loss of appetite

Nausea and vomiting

Fever

Constipation or diarrhoea

Abdominal bloating/fullness

Diagnosis

The doctor often asks questions regarding the symptoms and the patient’s medical history. This will be followed up by a physical examination in which the Doctor presses on the abdomen to check for any tenderness, and the location of the pain. With acute appendicitis, pressing on and letting go of the right lower abdomen usually elicits an excruciatingly unbearable pain. Several tests may be ordered to determine especially the severity of the illness and to rule out other causes of abdominal pain. The tests may conditions include: blood tests, a pregnancy test, urinalysis, abdominal  “How do ultrasound scans work?” ultrasound (scan), CT scan or MRI Scan.

Treatment

The gold standard treatment of acute appendicitis is surgical removal of the appendix known as appendectomy. Luckily, a person can live just fine without an appendix! Surgical options include laparoscopy or open surgery and the type will be decided on by the Surgeon after assessing the patient’s condition. Painkillers and antibiotics are also given intravenously usually before, during and after the surgery.

Complications

Appendicitis can cause serious complications such as;

Appendicular mass/abscessIf the appendix is inflamed or bursts, one may develop a pocket of pus around it known as an abscess. In most cases, the abscess will be treated with antibiotics and drained first by placing a tube through one’s abdominal wall into the abscess. The tube may be left in place for a few hours or days while the infection is clearing up but ultimately one would still have surgery to remove the appendix.

Peritonitis – without treatment, the appendix can rupture/burst. The risk of this rises 48–72 hours after symptoms start. A ruptured appendix spreads the infection throughout the abdomen (peritonitis). This is life threatening and requires immediate surgery to remove the appendix and clean the abdominal cavity.

Death – The complications of appendicitis (and appendectomy) can be life threatening, only if the diagnosis has been missed and no proper treatment has been given on time. This is rare though with the evolved medical care.

If you need further advice or treatment please call 4924730, email  HYPERLINK “mailto:info@themedicscentre.co.bw” info@themedicscentre.co.bw or visit www.themedisccentre.co.bw

Antoinette Boima, MBBS, BMedSci, PgDip HIV/AIDS, Cert Aesth Med is the Managing Director of The Medics Centre in Palapye.

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A degree of common sense

7th February 2022

Here’s a news item from last month you may have missed. In December 2021 the University of Staffordshire announced it would be offered a degree course in pantomime! Yes, that’s right, a degree in popular festive entertainment, the Christmas panto.

We used to have one here, put on by the Capitol Players, though it seems to have fallen away in recent times, but the spectacle is still alive and well in the UK, both in local ad-dram (amateur dramatic ) societies and on the London stage and most of the major cities, these latter productions usually featuring at least one big-draw name from the world of show business with ticket prices commensurate with the star’s salary.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the pantomime format, it consists of a raucous mixture of songs and comedy all based around a well-known fairy or folk tale. Aladdin and His Magic Lamp, Cinderella, Jack & The Beanstalk & Dick Whittington are perennial favourites but any well-known tall tale goes. There is no set script, unlike a play, and storyline is just a peg to hang a coat of contemporary, often bawdy, gags on, in what should be a rollicking production of cross dressing – there has to be at least one pantomime dame, played by a man and always a figure of fun, and a Principal Boy, ostensibly the male lead, yet played by an attractive young woman.

As an art form it can trace its roots back to 16th century Italy and the Commedia Del’Arte which used a mélange of music, dance, acrobatics along with a cast of comic stock characters so it has a long and proud theatrical tradition but you have to wonder, does that really qualify it as a suitable subject for a university? Further, what use might any degree be that can be acquired in a single year? And last but not least, how much standing does any degree have which comes from a jumped-up polytechnic, granted university status along with many of its ilk back in 1992, for reasons best known to the government of the time? Even more worrying are the stated aims of the course.

Staffordshire University claims it is a world first and the masters course is aimed at people working inside as well as outside the industry. Students on the course, due to start in September 2022, will get practical training in the art form as well as research the discipline.

“We want to see how far we can take this,” Associate Professor of Acting and Directing Robert Marsden said. The role of pantomime in the 21st Century was also going to be examined, he said, “particularly post Me Too and Black Lives Matter”. Questions including “how do we address the gender issues, how do we tell the story of Aladdin in 2021, how do we get that balance of male/female roles?” will be asked, Prof Marsden added.

Eek! Sounds like Prof. Marsden wants to rob it of both its history and its comedic aspects – well, good luck with that! Of course that isn’t the only bizarre, obscure and frankly time and money-wasting degree course available. Staying with the performing arts there’s Contemporary Circus and Physical Performance at Bath Spa University. Sounds like fun but why on earth would a circus performer need a university degree?

Or how about a Surf Science and Technology degree at Cornwall College (part of the University of Plymouth). Where the one thing you don’t learn is….how to surf!

Then there is a  degree in Floral Design at University Centre Myerscough. No, I hadn’t heard of it either – turns out it’s a college of further education in Preston, a town that in my experience fits the old joke of ‘I went there once…..It was closed’ to a ‘T’!

Another handy (pun intended) art is that of Hand Embroidery BA (Hons), offered at the University for the Creative Arts. Or you could waste away sorry, while away, your time on a course in Animal Behaviour and Psychology. This degree at the University of Chester teaches you about the way animals think and feel. Cockroaches have personalities according to the subject specs– you couldn’t make it up.

Happily all these educational institutes may have to look to their laurels and try to justify their very existence in the near future. In plans announced this week, universities could face fines of up to £500,000 (P750m), be stripped of their right to take student loans or effectively shut down if they cannot get 60 per cent of students into a professional job under a crackdown on ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses. Further, at least 80 per cent of students should not drop out after the first year, and 75 per cent should graduate.

The rules, published by the Office for Students (OfS), aim to eliminate ‘low-quality’ courses by setting new standards & requiring courses to improve their rating in the TEF, the official universities ratings system. Universities not meeting the new standards will not be able to charge full annual fees of £9,250. Unconventional courses that could fall victim to the new rules could include the University of Sunderland’s BA in Fashion Journalism, where students learn essential’ skills such as catwalk reporting and the history of Chanel.  They have only a 40 per cent chance of entering highly skilled work 15 months after leaving.

At University College Birmingham, BSC Bakery and Patisserie Technology students – who learn how to ‘make artisan bread’ – have a 15 per cent chance of a professional job within 15 months. Universities minister Michelle Donelan welcomed the move, saying ‘When students go to university, they do so in the pursuit of a life-changing education, one which helps pave their path towards a highly skilled career. Any university that fails to match this ambition must be held to account.’

OfS found that at 25 universities, fewer than half of students find professional work within 15 months.  Business and management courses at the University of Bedfordshire (14.8 per cent) were among the least likely to lead to graduate-level jobs.  Asked to comment, the University of Sunderland said it always looked ‘to find ways to improve outcomes’; University College Birmingham said data on graduates and definition of ‘professional work’ was limited. I’ll bet it is! As the saying goes, ’what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over’. What a pantomime!

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Why regular health checks are important!

7th February 2022

With the world still reeling from the negative impact of the Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19), and the latest Omicron variant (which is responsible for the ongoing global forth wave) on everyone’s lips, we should not forget and neglect other aspects of our health.

While anyone can get infected with corona virus and become seriously ill or die at any age, studies continue to show that people aged 60 years and above, and those with underlying medical conditions like hypertension, heart and lung problems, diabetes, obesity, cancers, or mental illness are at a higher risk of developing serious illness or dying from covid-19.

It is a good habit to visit a doctor regularly, even if you feel healthy. Regular health checks can help identify any early signs of health issues or assess your risk of future illness hence prompting one to take charge and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and other non-communicable diseases (even communicable) can often be picked up in their early stages, when chances for effective treatment are high.

During a health check, your doctor will take a thorough history from you regarding your medical history, your family’s history of disease, your social life and habits, including your diet, physical activity, alcohol use, smoking and drug intake. S/he will examine you including measuring your weight, blood pressure, feeling your body organs and listening to your heart and lungs amongst the rest. Depending on the assessment, your doctor will notify you how often you need to have a health check. If you have a high risk of a particular health condition, your doctor may recommend more frequent health checks from an early age.

Diet – a healthy diet improves one’s general health and wellbeing. It is recommended that we have at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables daily. Physical activity – regular physical activity has significant health benefits on one’s body, mind & soul. It contributes to preventing and managing non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, enhances thinking, learning, and judgment skills and improves overall well-being. According to the world health organisation (WHO), people who are insufficiently active have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to people who are sufficiently active. Aim for 30 minutes to an hour of moderate physical activity at least four days in a week. Examples of moderate physical activity include brisk walking, gentle swimming and social tennis.

Weight – maintaining a healthy weight range helps in preventing long-term complications like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and arthritis. It is also vital for one’s mental wellbeing and keeping up with normal activities of daily living. Ask your doctor to check your body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference annually. If you are at a higher risk, you should have your weight checked more frequently and a stern management plan in place.

Alcohol – as per WHO reports, alcohol consumption contributes to 3 million deaths each year globally as well as to the disabilities and poor health of millions of people. Healthy drinking entails taking no more than two standard drinks per drinking day with at least two alcohol-free days in a week.

Smoking –Nicotine contained in tobacco is highly addictive and tobacco use is a major risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, many different types of cancer, and many other debilitating health conditions. Every year, at least a whopping 8 million people succumb from tobacco use worldwide. Tobacco can also be deadly for non-smokers through second-hand smoke exposure. It is not ‘fashionable’ if it is going to cost you and your loved ones lives! If you are currently smoking, talk to your doctor and get help in quitting as soon as possible to reduce the harm.

Blood pressure: Hypertension is a serious medical condition and can increase the risk of heart, brain, kidney and other diseases. It is a major cause of premature death worldwide, with upwards of 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women – over a billion people – having the condition. Have your blood pressure checked annually if it is normal, you are aged under 40 and there is no family history of hypertension. You might need to have it checked more frequently if you are over 40, your blood pressure is on the high side, or you have a personal or family history of high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack. Your doctor will be there to guide you.

Dental care – eating a low-sugar diet and cleaning and flossing the teeth regularly can reduce one’s risk of tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. Visit a dentist every six months for a dental examination and professional cleaning, or more frequently as per your dentist’s advice.
Blood tests – annual to five-yearly blood tests may be done to further assess or confirm risk of disease. These may include blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, kidney function, liver function, tumour markers, among other things. They may be done frequently if there is already an existing medical condition.

Cancer screening – various screening techniques can be done to detect different cancers in their early or pre-cancer stages. These include; skin inspections for any suspicious moles/spots, two-yearly mammograms for those at risk of developing breast cancer, Pap smear or the new Cervical Screening Test (CST) every five years, stool tests and colonoscopy (every five years) for those at most risk of bowel cancer, prostate cancer screening for those at risk (over 45 years of age, family history of cancers etc.). Discuss appropriate tests with your doctor.

Vaccinations – You should discuss with your doctor about the necessary routine immunisation, in particular; the Covid-19 vaccines, an annual flu shot, a five-yearly pneumococcal vaccine if you have never had one or you are immunocompromised and any other boosters that you might need.

If you need further advice or treatment please call 4924730, email HYPERLINK “mailto:info@themedicscentre.co.bw” info@themedicscentre.co.bw or visit www.themedisccentre.co.bw

Antoinette Boima, MBBS, BMedSci, PgDip HIV/AIDS, Cert Aesth Med is the Managing Director of The Medics Centre in Palapye.

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