Connect with us
Advertisement

How I remember Phenyo Prince Lekgotla Gothaang!

Events Review
Rasina Winfred Rasina

     Rest In Eternal Peace My Friend With a Signature Smile
    You Saw Your Death and Spoke About it
    You Left Us With Comforting Words



Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim! The year is 1995 on chilly winter day at Ngwaketse Junior Secondary School Hall.  The mood is Competitive. We are all nervous. Some are more confident. Some have the required experience. Some new theatre artists are going to perform in front of an audience for the first time in their lives. It is not necessarily a fair competition. Some schools are trained by their teachers who cannot be said to be having a clear idea of the theatre industry. But they do their best. Some schools have established theatre institutions such as Reetsanang Association of Community Drama Groups, Lobopo Theatre Group, and Moremogolo Extension Theatre Production as their trainers and production teams…babangwe baitshenketse bo lenna keaitse…bo lenna keaitse bateng gagobatle rebua kabone…etloga okare relosotlo…


Patches of students from low and high Secondary Schools of the Southern Theatre Region are roaming the school corridors. Some are under the tree shadows doing their final rehearsals. It is a nervous moment. Some buses are still arriving either from neighbouring Jwaneng, Lobatse, Kanye Schools, Molapowabojang, Otse et cetera…legale bamagae batlile bapalame diteraka…Some are just from where they were accommodated for the night in Kanye. There is also that sense of…..gorata dilo….as those with low morale prefer to refer to the confident ones. The urban lads are much cleaner and hygienically appealing.

 

The rural folks are putting on their oversized clothing…dilo tsago apolelwa…makgasanyana gape gothuntsenyana wabona…but gose molato…baikategile…the Lobatse Secondary School Theatre Club, a team made up of amongst others; Phenyo Gothaang are not only clean, they are pantsola stylish….and their walk depicts too much tsotsi-taal….they are an envy…..yet not trusted….!…Phenyo was still the same Phenyo who was later to become the Chairman of Extension Gunners; he is neat, decent and putting on his signature smile. The Jwaneng lads are English competent…it’s a given….hakere regodile le makgowa ko makgoweng…!…


The competition commences. The stage is set. It is made up of timber blocks and laboratory tables have been brought into the hall to create back stage and dressing rooms. It is not looking bad, actually it is superb. Remember it is 1995. We have not yet graduated to the use of modern theatre halls that we see at Maitisong Theatre and Mantlwaneng Theatre nowadays….well in Jwaneng we already have Acacia Primary School Theatre Hall….legale ene esa tsenwe tsenwe hela….ene ele ya makgowa….I am taking a lead role in a theatre production titled “A Pain of Sorrow” together with Gofaone, Kgosietsile Mapose and Mpho Toteng in the English category. A production written and directed by Michael M. Tebogo of Moremogolo Extension Theatre Production. We do wonders. The theatre industry still recalls. Remember it is still 1995 and theatre is considered…dilo tsa ma clownara…gape drama ya feidisa…gape haena bokamoso….batho bateng babua jaana balebetse Nkosheng le Senthaolele…mxm…!…


Phenyo Gothaang is with the Lobatse Secondary School Team and playing a lead role of a headmaster struggling with naughty boarding students. He is on stage with amongst others Joseph ‘Mpharanyane’ Simane who plays the role of a spoilt brat leading a group of naughty boarding students who are accustomed to jumping the school fence to go and imbibe on chibuku shake at a shebeen of a character called Mma Skhabina. The shebeen queen is a ‘replica’ of those who just want to make profits without a care of who they are selling alcohol to. Remember it is 1995. Mma Skhabina sells alcohol to students on school uniform and has created hiding places for them in her yard…reaitse gore gosantse godirwa jalo…ebile gompieno baheleletsa bana ka motokwane le diritibatsi tsedi sunetswang….haorakana baaja madi amotokwane le diritibatsi ba bolaile bana ditlahloganyo okaithaya ore batho…..gagona batho moteng kedilo disele hela batlaa bonwa ke Modimo…!….


We are still in the winter of 1995 in Kanye. Amongst the characters in the theatre production ‘Tsela Pedi’ is Percy Sedio; the current renowned playwright and director and Odondo Omphemetse Mmopa. The production is written and directed by a team of Lobopo Theatre Group practitioners amongst them Tapologo Kwapa (another decent lad) and Lesego Spencer Mogwang. Lobopo being a member affiliate of Reetsanang Association of Community Drama Groups led by James Chitukuta (May His Soul Rest in Peace) and Samson Setumo. It is an untouchable production. It is well set, simply but best choreographed.

 

The music is no only melodious but a perfect fit for the production. Stage distribution is above excellence. The audience goes in thunders of applauses and ululations. Phenyo Gothaang is in charge. He uses the stage with ease as if he has been rehearsing on the same. It is a little bit unfair, for most of the lead characters in this cast are from Lobopo Theatre Group, an affiliate member of Reetsanang Association of Community Drama Group. They have performed in various platforms and have had the most exposure. They are not performing the story, they are the story themselves.


After all schools have performed, the adjudicators disappeared to do what they have to do. It is time to mingle. To find new girlfriends and boyfriends. To also discuss the productions and predict the results. There is a consensus, that the Jwaneng and Lobatse teams have made it. And when the adjudicators come with the results, the prediction is correct. Lobatse and Jwaneng Teams proceed to second round in the following two weeks. They do the same amaze! They proceed to the nationals in the following three weeks. And the Lobatse team scoops first position in the national senior Setswana category with Mpepu Private School with their theatre production titled 6/9 Production and code named ‘Ntlwaneng’ scooping national first position in the senior English category and the Jwaneng team scooping second position in the national English junior category….gake gakologelwe babangwe…ese kalepe hela….kegakologelwa Reetsanang Association of Drama Groups practitioners….it is winter of 1995 and Champions are crowned.


Phenyo Gothaang and Joseph Simane are the most popular actors of 1995 and marvelled by all.  I will not talk about Joseph Simane’s reaction to fame……ke mogolole otloga ankomanya gore jaanong kea motlontlolola…mogolole kana jaanong ke mogolo hela wako Government enclave obonwa ka apoentemente…heeeeeduuuu….jkg!….Phenyo Gothaang remains humble, friendly, social, decent and SMILING…!…My journey with him had thus begun until his unfortunate passing this past weekend. His friends, quite a huge pool of friends that he literally grew up with in Lobatse such as Cairo Chaba and Olebile Rasta Seleba Ramatobotobo (who has since diverted to liquor entrepreneurship) fondly referred to him as…‘Jeje’…..a nickname I am yet to know of its origins. Jeje was a loyal socialist who remained friends with these childhood friends of his until his untimely death.  


He had a very interesting journey in life, a remarkable career yet seemingly too rough for a person of his personality. A career no one thought he could opt for. Upon completing his Cambridge he opted for the Police College where he was to serve as a Policemen for years before he joined Debswana as a Security Officer and going up the ranks…..gake tshware sentle maemo abo sepodisi le bo sechurithi nkabo keabua…. He was to later quit his job at Debswana Orapa & Letlhakane Mines to take over as the Chief Executive Officer of Wayguard Security Services. A company his served until his tragic death. 

 

Phenyo was also a scholar and a lecture on Strategic Management.  I am mentioning his career because he began as a Police Officer. The mid 90s were still moments were Police Service was considered a crude job. Most police officers were generally rude, violent on suspects and enjoying some sort of movie actions hence unnecessarily administering such physical skills on the citizens……kana tota mapodisi bagompieno batlhabologile….golo mo ekile yabo ele bogwane hela jwa khwaela mahala…..!…unlike today, it was not a career…!…gosantse gopala ma special constable hela badumela mothuuupeeeng…!…When Phenyo Gothaang joined the Botswana Police Service back then, none of us believed he would survive. It was altogether in our view a wrong terrain for him. He was just too soft, decent, well-groomed and socially nice to be a part of the then Botswana Police Service. But he survived. I still don’t know how.


I was to later hear the news after his relocation from Orapa to Gaborone that he had taken over as the chairman of Extension Gunners, a team he grew following and supporting passionately…kebo ketshega…hakere nna ma-Drama keabaitse…gabanke ba palelwa Kesepe…!…The beauty of an artist is focus, determination and hard work. Artists are passionate with everything that they do and Phenyo Gothaang was that.

 

He died doing what he had vowed to do, to be there for Extension Gunners. I know very little about his days at Extension Gunners except what I read in the news like any other Motswana and hence I shall remember Phenyo Prince Lekgotla Gothaang as; a theatre practitioner, a father, a friend, a brother, an uncle and a patriot. I shall remember him from the year 1995 until December 2016 when we bumped into each other at Riverwalk mall and discussed politics and economy. I shall remember his remarks about the things he had read about me somewhere and the forever Phenyo Gothaang signature smile that accompanied the teasing. I shall remember him this way because, Phenyo Prince Lekgotla Gothaang had on the 04th of June 2014 written on his Facebook page that:
“…please remember only my best…



WHEN I AM GONE

When I come to the end of my journey
And I travel my last weary mile,
Just forget if you can,
That I ever frowned and remember only the smile.

Forget unkind words I have spoken;
Remember some good I have done,
Forget that I ever had a heartache
And remember I’ve had loads of fun.

Forget that I have stumbled and blundered
And sometimes fell by the way.
Remember I have fought
Some hard battles and won,
Ere the close of the day,

Then forget to grieve for my going,
I would not have you sad for a day,
But in summer just gather some flowers
And remember the place where I lay

And come in the evening
When the sun paints the sky in the west,
Stand for a few moments beside me
And remember only my best.”
Allahur Akbar!
The Journey Continues,



Rasina Winfred Rasina
Email: rwwrasina@gmail.com  
Mobile: +267 71886794
Facebook Page: Rasina Winfred Winnie Rasina
Twitter: @Rasina_W_Rasina

Continue Reading

Columns

Parricide at Herod’s Court

25th January 2021
SAILI

A wife, uncle, and two in-laws fall at the hands of Judah’s despot

The pre-eminent Jewish chronicler, Flavius Josephus, said of Herod the Great that he was “blessed with every gift of looks, body, and mind” but he was a “slave to his passions”. This was in the context of a gloating bloodlust.

His sword knew no sacred cows: neither his own kids, wives, in-laws, next of kin, nor bosom friends were immune from it. He is on record as pestering Caesar Augustus with a barrage of letters seeking permission to execute his own flesh and blood, prompting the Roman emperor to at one time quip that, “It is better to be Herod’s pig than his son”, which was apt: as a “Jew”, Herod did not eat pork and therefore in the event that he kept any pigs, they would never have to be killed.

You are by now well-apprised of the death of Hyrcanus II by the same Herod, General Atiku, in 30 BC. Hyrcanus, a Hasmonean ruler of Judah twice over, was actually the grandfather of Mariamne I, Herod’s most beloved wife and his second of up to 10 wives. It was Mariamne’s own mother Salome, who dreading Herod’s pathological savagery, pitched Mariamne to Herod in the hope that that would insure her family from Herod’s murderous caprices.

Now, Mariamne, General, was as much a stunning beauty as her younger brother Aristobulus III was breathtakingly good-looking. Having tied the knot with Herod in 37 BC, Mariamne had prevailed over her husband to install Aristobulus as High Priest. The post had fallen vacant on the death of Antigonus in 37 BC and Herod had appointed one Ananel, who had no ties whatsoever to the Hasmoneans, the first such in more than a century, in his place. Unable to resist the spirited entreaties of his beloved wife, who had also lobbied Queen Cleopatra of Egypt and her beau Mark Anthony, Herod gave in and replaced Ananel with Aristobulus, who was only 16 years old, in 36 BC.

Because of his enormous charisma and overall affability, Aristobulus was a hit with the masses despite his tender age and Herod was envious of the young man’s rock star-like popularity. To make doubly sure the young man did not harbour a seditious ace up his sleeve, the morbidly paranoid Herod had his spooks watch on both Aristobulus and his mother round the clock. Sensing imminent danger, Aristobulus contacted Cleopatra, asking for a pre-emptive safe passage to Egypt and there enjoy absolute freedom. When Herod got wind of this, he decided to get rid of Aristobulus as he did not wish him to be a perennial thorn in his flesh from the utter safety of self-imposed exile.

The opportunity came at a banquet in Jericho which was organised by Aristobulus’ mother. There, Herod had one of his henchmen cause Aristobulus to drown during a dusk time horseplay in a swimming pool. Of course Herod would forever maintain the drowning was accidental when everybody knew it was in truth a tactical elimination. Poor Aristobulus was only 17 years old having been born in 56 BC. He was the last Hasmonean High Priest and was replaced by the previously deposed Ananel, who was to remain in that position till 29 BC.

HEROD ACQUITTED OVER THE ARISTOBULUS DEATH

It need not be over-emphasised, General, that Mariamne and her mother Alexandra did not take Herod’s line over the all too untimely demise of Aristobulus lying down. If he had reckoned that with the death of Aristobulus he had gotten rid of potentially the most potent threat to his omnipotence, he was totally mistaken. Herod had actually simply fanned the flames of intrigue against him, for mother and daughter confronted him and accused him of murdering their boy in cold blood.

Nor did the two Iron Ladies end matters there: Alexandra wrote a lachrymal letter to Cleopatra to get her to bring her influence to bear on Mark Anthony so that Herod paid dearly and likewise for his nefarious act. Anthony, who at the time was the Roman colossus in charge of the whole of the Middle East, was persuaded and during a visit to Laodicea (in modern-day Turkey, though some accounts say it was Rhodes in Cyprus), he commanded Herod to report to him forthwith and exculpate himself over the affair.

Although Herod put a brave face on the matter, General, he was rather unsure of his eventual fate after the trial. He also suspected rightly or wrongly that Anthony had a thing for the voluptuously beautiful Mariamne and the last thing Herod wanted was for any other man to bed his beloved Mariamne even in death. So before he set off for Laodicea, Herod instructed his uncle Joseph, who was married to his sister Salome, to make sure that in the event that Anthony sentenced him to death, he should immediately put her to the sword. He also detailed a certain Sohemus, a most trusted aide, to stand sentry over the entire womenfolk at the palace.

Herod, however, had the nine lives of a cat, General. Using his immense rhetorical skills and the time-honoured palm greasing, he won himself an acquittal. Meanwhile, the Judean rumourville was abuzz with chatter that Herod had been summarily executed by Anthony, as a result of which people became spendthrifts of their tongues.

Both Joseph and Sohemus disclosed to Mariamne the instructions Herod had left them with in relation to her fate once he was no more. Mariamne was both livid and distraught that her husband regarded her as so easily expendable when outwardly he cherished her beyond words. To her mind, his arrangements with Joseph had nothing to do with love but sprang from sheer monstrosity. She probably thanked God that he was dead, but the fact of the matter was that he was not and when he at long last turned up, she did not want to have anything to do with him, including the conjugation which he so eagerly pined for after such an extended absence.

HEROD KILLS HIS WIFE AND HIS UNCLE

Now, if Herod had a kind of Svengali, General, it was his youngest sister Salome. Salome (65 BC-10 AD) was the most powerful woman at Herod’s court. A sly, scheming, and manipulating vixen, she arguably more than any other living being had the most sway in a negative sense on her brother, who took practically whatever she said as gospel truth.

Let us nevertheless, General, take stock of the fact that the bulk of what we learn about Salome comes from Flavius Josephus, who himself relied on the writings of Herod’s court historian Nicolaus of Damascus. For one reason or the other, Nicolaus did not see eye to eye with Salome and it is therefore possible that much of what Nicolaus relates of her is embellished to smear her before the court of history.
Upon his return, Herod was told of the rumours of his death and so was surprised to find Mariamne alive when Joseph and Sohemus should in the circumstances have had her killed if indeed they were loyal to him. In fact, Joseph had even put Mariamne and Alexandra into the safe custody of Roman legions stationed in Judea just in case Jewish malcontents who abhorred Herod turned their wrath on them.

But there was more. Salome reported to Herod that Mariamne, who she hated like the plague, had had sexual relations with both Joseph and Sohemus, this being Mariamne’s reward to them for dishing out to her the dirt on Herod, and that she had on several occasions before attempted to poison him. Now, no one would hump Herod’s most beloved wife and get away scotfree. It is therefore small wonder that Herod straightaway ordered the execution of Joseph and Sohemus. Joseph was 61 years old at the time of his death in 34 BC, having been born in 95 BC. In the case of Mariamne herself though, he had her subjected to a formal court trial not on charges of adultery but of attempted regicide.

Herod had hoped that the court would acquit her, whereupon he would make bygones be bygones so great was his love for the woman, but sadly for him, General, she was found guilty and sentenced to death. Even then, Herod tactfully dilly-dallied on signing the writ of execution and simply had his wife detained at a fortress for some time until Salome prevailed over him to execute her at long last. Writes Josephus: “Thus, with the death of the noble and lovely Mariamne ended the glorious history of the Hasmonean High Priest Mattathias and his descendants.”

For a long time to come though, General, Herod was haunted by the death of his wife to the point of even sometimes coming across as if he had lost his mind. “When Herod realised what this meant (the death sentence passed on Mariamne), he tried in vain to have the verdict changed, but Salome did not rest until the death penalty was carried out,” Josephus informs us. “Herod was heartbroken; nothing could comfort him for the loss of his lovely wife.

For seven years he refused to have her body buried, and held it, embalmed, in his palace. Afterwards, he became so melancholy and despondent, nothing interested him or could arouse any enthusiasm in him for living … He was so far conquered by his passion, that he would order his servants to call for Mariamne, as if she were still alive, and could still hear them … He tried hard to forget his trouble by going hunting and banqueting, but nothing helped. Herod built new cities and erected temples and palaces. He also named a tower in honour of Mariamne.”

HEROD SLAYS SISTER’S EX-HUBBY

Mariamne’s death was not the only one which Herod perpetrated through the instrumentality of Salome. There were actually several and included those of her own husband Costobarus. Salome was married four times, to her uncle Joseph (45 BC); Costobarus (34 BC); Sylleus (circa 27 BC); and Alexas (20 BC).

Like the Herod clan, Costobarus was of Idumean stock. It was Costobarus Herod had made governor of Idumea and Gaza and upon Joseph’s death had him tie the knot with Salome, with the couple eventually siring two children, Berenice and Antipater III. Costobarus, though, soon began to harbour monarchical ambitions of his own and wrote to Cleopatra beseeching her to persuade Mark Anthony to make Idumea independent of Herod and install him (Costobarus) as Rome’s client King of the territory.

Of course upon learning of this, Herod was not amused. It was Salome who pleaded with him not to put her husband to the sword. Next time, however, a dumped Costobarus was not so lucky. Seven years after their marriage, Salome and Costobarus parted ways and a possibly hurt Salome decided to exact vengeance. She informed her brother that he had been harbouring two fugitives from Herodian justice for a full 12 years at his own farm.

The two were simply known as the Sons of Baba. Baba ben Babuta, their father and clan patriarch, was related to the Hasmonean ruler Antigonus, who Herod had replaced and killed in 37 BC with the help of Roman legions. Baba and his sons had resisted Herod at the time, with his sons henceforth persisted in insurrectionist activity against Herod. Baba himself had been captured and blinded by Herod but spared anyway as he no longer posed any threat. Writes Josephus: “Now the Sons of Babas were of great dignity, and had power among the multitude, and were faithful to Antigonus, and were always raising calumnies against Herod, and encouraged the people to preserve the government to that royal family (the Hasmoneans) which held it by inheritance.”

Costobarus had provided the Sons of Baba an indefinite lair “supposing that their preservation might be of great advantage to him in the changes of government afterward”. Following the Salome tip, Herod had Costobarus and the Sons of Baba summarily executed “so that none was left alive of the family of Hyrcanus (the Hasmonean), and the kingdom was wholly in Herod’s power, there being no one of high rank to stand in the way of his unlawful acts” per Josephus.

NEXT WEEK: HEROD’S WRATH ON HIS OWN SONS

Continue Reading

Columns

WHAT’S UP WITH WHATSAPP?

25th January 2021

In early January, WhatsApp, part of Facebook Inc., began alerting its 2 billion users to an update of its privacy policy which, should they want to keep using the popular messaging app, they have to accept. Much of the policy, which is about commercialising WhatsApp, states ‘WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information with, the other Facebook Companies.

We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate and market services’. WhatsApp is now reserving the right to share data it collects about you with the broader Facebook network, which includes Instagram, regardless of whether you have accounts or profiles there, claiming it needs it to help operate and improve its offerings. More broadly, almost all of the $21.5 billion in revenues which Facebook generated in the third quarter of 2020 came from advertising and there is currently none in WhatsApp.

The company now wants to be able to serve more targeted ads to people on Facebook and Instagram by also garnering their usage habits on WhatsApp and enabling businesses take payments via WhatsApp for items that were selected on other Facebook sites. For long-time users, the option to share data with Facebook was made available in 2016, but it was just that: optional and temporary. It was now to become mandatory for everybody from Feb. 8 but owing to a massive backlash, the company has delayed that to May 15 to try and persuade users to sign up to the new Ts and Cs.

WhatsApp on Monday attempted to address the uproar over privacy concerns with a post on its website, explaining that the update was designed to aid businesses on its platform, as it reiterated in Friday’s post.

“We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way. Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data.”

These new terms have caused an outcry among technology experts, privacy advocates, billionaire entrepreneurs and government organisations and triggered a wave of defections to rival services. Elon Musk has urged his followers to switch to Signal and the governments of Turkey and India have threatened to block the app if it insists on proceeding.

‘WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy verges on user surveillance and threatens India’s security’, a petition filed in an Indian court said on Thursday, presenting another legal challenge for the Facebook Inc. -owned messenger. “It virtually gives a 360-degree profile into a person’s online activity,” lawyer Chaitanya Rohilla told the Delhi High Court. Many Indian users have began installing rival apps like Signal and Telegram, pushing WhatsApp to begin a costly advertising campaign to calm its 400 million customer-base, the largest of any country. The change has also met with a challenge in Turkey with the country’s Competition Board this week launching an investigation into the messaging service and its parent company.

Elsewhere too, in spite of Whatsapp protestations, millions of its users are already migrating to alternative platforms. Signal saw 7.5 million downloads last week,  a 4,200% spike since the previous week and large swaths of users also jumped to Telegram, as the platform gained 9 million new users last week, up 91% from the previous week. Both apps are now topping Google and Apple’s app stores,

Facebook could possibly learn a lesson from history here. Every past empire – Aztec, Mayan, Greco-Roman, Sumerian, Mongol, Chinese, Ottoman and more recently British, all saw their star rise, their glory swell, their boundaries grow and yet each eventually fell, often the instigators of their own downfall.

They expanded too far too fast and could not control what they had initially conquered. And now it looks like the same fate might await this large tech giant. Parent company Facebook has also come under fire recently for overt and covert censorship policies with questions raised as to partisanship and curtailment of freedom of speech. Thus one would have to question the wisdom of the timing of this new Whatsapp privacy policy, if nothing else.

To understand its influence and control one only has to check out the un-smart sector of the mobile phone industry which for some time has offered handsets a small step up from the basic starter sets with Facebook and Whatsapp as default screen app settings. These limited internet access options have allowed millions of users to connect with affordable data bundle packages.

And for Google smartphone subscribers, the search engine automatically connects its base to Whatsapp and Facebook – one big, happy family. Facebook is also seamlessly linked to Paypal offering contact-less charges for its boosted post advertising, a somewhat sinister partnership which accesses their Paypal log-in and authorisation details without the need to inform the payee – the transaction is simply deducted automatically from the registered credit card. This is Big Brother with a blue logo.

The bottom line here is that if you have any privacy issues at all – and you probably should – you might as well make the switch now before you are forced to sign away your rights in May. And the plus part is that both Signal and Telegram have the technological edge over Whatsapp anyway, the latter even being accessible on multiple platforms simultaneously, not just on your phone.
Empires take time to crumble and Facebook is not in imminent danger but information is a weapon that can be used in any war, even a virtual conflict, so don’t give this giant any more ammunition than it already has.

Continue Reading

Columns

The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

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.

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!