The big talking point this past week or so has to be the rain. Pula, pula and more pula, courtesy of Hurricane Dineo, sending a vast low pressure front covering the land mass from Mozambique throughout Zimbabwe, the northern provinces of South Africa and much of Botswana. It was much needed after the hardships of last year’s water shortages and the excellent result is that at the time of writing, Gaborone Dam is 102 percent full and the level is still rising.
So it is with genuine regret that I have to put a dampener on the situation (as if it wasn’t damp enough already!) which is to point out the downside of a bout of prolonged rain such as we are currently experiencing and that is the adverse effect it has on commerce and industry.
Consider first the construction industry which will have ground to a virtual standstill, be it commercial or residential, new building or major reconstruction. The constant rain or even the threat of rain will have halted almost all work leaving contractors behind schedule, clients frustrated, workers temporarily laid off and payments deferred; a dire situation with a negative impact from management right down to casual labour.
In a related field are all the building supply companies, from raw materials to electrical fittings, flooring material, paints, plumbing accessories and everything else needs for construction and repairs. Those suppliers too will be feeling the pinch as their clients stay away and stop spending, albeit temporarily.
Retailers too will be feeling the pinch. Be it clothes shopping, household goods, furnishings, appliances, anything other than basic necessities, most of us are reluctant to make the effort to shop and spend when the weather is inclement and there is more incentive to stay home and save your cash for a rainy sunny day. So all over town those shops will be seeing sparse trade and reduced turnover – more bad news as far as profitability is concerned.
That shopping moratorium extends to motor dealerships too; who in their right mind wants to shop for a new car when it’s raining cats and dogs and a test drive in slick driving conditions, traffic congestion, surrounded by incompetent wet-weather drivers would turn it into more of a testing drive.
Travel as well is restricted. Some commuter flights have been cancelled due to the bad weather and bookings may well also have been cancelled by nervous fliers preferring to sit out the Dineo effect. Business trips by road to and from the south will have been postponed too, not only electively but in some cases by necessity where road conditions are proving trying.
Even border posts are not immune – Ramotswa, for example, is always out of action during periods of heavy rain, owing to flooding on the access road. And merely getting from A to B in and around town and the surrounds has become an adventure, with pockets of deep standing water and massive potholes that have developed all over and which, hidden under water, can be serious driving hazards.
And what of those companies whose income derives from organising and/or hosting functions – the venue suppliers, caterers, marquee renters, hirers of catering equipment and party supplies, from chairs & tables to cutlery, crockery, spit braais, sound equipment and even the odd bouncy castle?
In this part of the world we are so used to entertaining al fresco in sunny weather, we scarcely even consider the thought that our functions might have to be held under cover or canvas and yet any outdoor party, reception or general jamboree will have either have to had to be relocated and severely truncated or actually postponed or cancelled, leaving all the suppliers twiddling their thumbs, tearing out their hair and trying to plug the income gap in much the same way as the small boy tried to plug the holes in the wall of the burst dyke.
And lest you accuse me of being too materially-minded, let’s also spare a thought for those made homeless by the resultant floods. On local grocery chain is already asking for donation to help those displaced flood victims and be in no doubt – heavy rain in a land of sporadic and low rainfall can cause genuine hardship and have dire consequences.
But using another rain-related proverb, every cloud has a silver lining and when the weather finally clears up there will be work a plenty. Firstly those motor dealerships and small repair garages all over town will be filled to bursting with vehicles damaged by the rain or bad roads; tyre fitters too will have a heyday, repairing the damage wreaked by the potholes.
Those small building companies, temporarily brought to a standstill by the deluge, will have their order books full to the gunnels for weeks to come, repairing leaking roofs and filling subsidence cracks, not to mention painting and decorating and carrying out all manner of water-related repairs.
The shops too will soon be filled with fair-weather shoppers, eager to flash their cash and treat themselves to something not absolutely necessary, to make up for their enforced incarceration at home while they sat out the storms; though I suspect those emporiums selling gum boots, galoshes and umbrellas made a quiet killing.
But don’t hold your breath for seeing all those newly-formed potholes being filled in any time soon. Experience tells me that we’ll be driving through and around them for months to come before the relevant council departments get round to a bit of much-needed road-mending. Still, good news for the tyre shops again – they’ll be laughing all the way to the (river)bank.
I will close with another pithy weather adage of which the English language is so full, mostly because England, or Britain is so full of foul weather, and it is this. No matter what we may have thought of the incessant rain and the resultant chaos, it was certainly lovely weather for ducks.
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.
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.
POSITIVITY 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)
COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT
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.
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.