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Jeff Ramsay

Kelebantse Sebele a Sechele II (1892-1939), known as Sebele II, was a popular albeit controversial Kgosi among the Bakwena (effective Reign 1918-31). But, in the end his determination to act independently brought him into conflict with the colonial regime. In 1931 the British detained him and, without trial or consultation with the Bakwena, confined him as political prisoner at Ghanzi, where he spent the last eight years of his twenty-one year reign.

Sebele II's rule generated opposition among some of his subjects as well as the British. His removal from bogosi, however, was deeply resented throughout the Kweneng. Efforts to restore Kgosi Sebele were attempted, but they were suppressed.

Sebele's reign thus resulted in much discord. In the decades thereafter elders recalling his bogosi have been divided in their opinions. Many would concede, however, that much of the controversy which still surrounds Sebele stems from his desire to rule as a "neo-traditionalism"

Sebele's neo-traditionalism aroused feelings early in his reign, when he upheld bogwera, rainmaking and polygamy. At the time such practices appealed to the majority of his people but offended many local Christians.

Among the latter group were much of the major sections of Molepolole. Elite members dominated the lay leadership of the LMS Church (since 1967 the UCCSA), which they regarded as their "National Church". The British also recognized certain members this elite as the Kweneng's "leading headmen," who were entitled to play an important role in Bakwena affairs.

Sebele's neo-traditionalism ultimately challenged the status and position of the Bakwena elite, who felt threatened by the way in which Sebele promoted commoners. Sebele's supporters maintained that his policy accorded with the tradition, Kgosi ke Kgosi ka batho, rather than just by his relatives.

Years before Sebele II was installed as Kgosi, the conflict between leading headmen and commoners, as well as between neo-traditional and Christian attitudes had already begun. During his reign, however, the conflict proved impossible to contain. Throughout the colonial era, neo-traditionalists such as Sebele were often stereotyped as '"backward" individuals who were out of step with the march of "civilization".

Colonial administrators readily accepted these stereotypes. For one thing, they liked working with Christian elites such as the one in Molepolole for the purposes of collecting tax and ruling strictly. For another, by branding the Kgosi as one opposed to change and progress, they could disguise their own dislike of Sebele, who openly resented colonial interference in Bakwena affairs. Sebele was anything but backward. He was, in fact, one of the most cosmopolitan men in the Protectorate.

His background was unique among diKgosi of the time. He was fairly well educated, though he dropped out of secondary school, despite being a top student. Among Bakwena dikgosi, he was the first to be fully literate in English. Even more important, Sebele gained valuable experience outside the Protectorate.

For several years he worked as clerk in the Witwatersrand mines and witnessed the squalid and violent conditions of compound life. With the freedom and money to visit bustling, growing Johannesburg, he also moved among a new community of urbanized Africans and tasted the pleasures of big city life.

During the First World War, Sebele was among the 555 Protectorate Batswana who served in France (1916-18) as enlisted members of the Fifth (High Commission Territories) Battalion of the South African Native Labour Contingent. He thus witnessed the miseries of trench warfare on the Western Front while coming into contact with military and civilians of various races and nationalities.

As suggested by its name, the Contingent was conceived by the racist authorities in Pretoria as a labour support unit only. The South African Government further insisted that all black troops under the command should not be given issued with firearms. This experience was quite different from the Batswana who later served in the African Pioneer Corps during World War II, all of who were armed and many of whom performed frontline combat duties.

On the 10th of July 1917 Sebele was among a handful of SANLC NCO's, who were selected to meet with King George V and Queen Mary, accompanied by Edward Prince of Wales and General Haig, in Abbeville France. On that occasion the King had assured the men that: "You are also part of my great armies fighting for the liberty and freedom of my subjects of all races and creeds throughout the Empire."

Notwithstanding such lofty sentiments, the SANLC was commanded by often cruel white officers. After some black troops (not from Bechuanaland) mutinied against these conditions it was decided disband the unit, by which time Sebele had served his tour of duty. Sebele became the Kgosi of the Bakwena on the very day of his return from the Western Front, which happened to coincide with the death of his father Kealeboga Sechele II.

On the whole, Sebele's years in France and Gauteng made him a sceptic of "white civilization". After return to Molepolole, he freely voiced his doubts to those who came in contact with him, blacks and whites alike. As kgosi it would be his stubborn rejection of his and his people's subordinate position within their own homeland that led to his downfall.

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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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