President Seretse Khama Ian Khama is at it again. He is reported in the media as having accused the opposition of being unpatriotic, making baseless allegations that the opposition boycotted the recent thanksgiving events across the country. Khama makes unfounded claims that the opposition also boycotted the Botswana Golden Jubilee celebrations.
Subsequent to all these government issued a directive that is intended to compel public servants to put on national colours on Fridays as a way of showing patriotism. The tone of the directive clearly makes the Friday dress code mandatory. It is amazing how government could have the audacity to even think of a compulsory dress code when they failed to substantially increase salaries in almost a decade.
The idea of national colours on Fridays started during the celebrations of Botswana’s fifty years of independence. At the time Batswana were encouraged to put on national colours on Fridays to create hype around the celebrations and instil a sense of patriotism. The latest directive is stretching the matter too far. One wonders why only public servants should be the target of what appears to be a move by government to undermine their civil liberties. The directive is a serious encroachment on the democratic space of law abiding citizens. We reject this directive not because we don’t love our country but because we are against authoritarian tendencies that are inherent in such directives.
It is a well-known fact that the President is averse to local private media. Unfortunately those who monitor the media report to him selectively. As a result the president may have missed a lot of activities around Botswana Golden Jubilee celebrations. The fact is that key figures from the opposition such as Michael Kitso Dingake and Gobe W. Matenge for an example, participated in panel discussions and Botswana Television interviews to share with Batswana their perspective of Botswana during the early days.
Opposition elected representatives and party activists participated in the celebrations across the length and breadth of the country. It remains a mystery how Khama got to know that the opposition boycotted the celebrations when there were no registers to capture participation by party affiliation. Besides when people boycott an event they do so to exercise their democratic right.
Having said that it is worth stating that, yes we had serious concerns over some aspects of the Golden Jubilee celebrations. In particular the BCP was worried about the budget allocations amounting to P140 million to celebrate the event when government was failing to adequately sponsor deserving young Batswana for tertiary education. The country is also faced with high levels of unemployment. Government was being heartless to the 6000 former employees of BCL and Tati Nickel.
This is so because when government committed millions of money for the celebrations they were aware of the crisis that was looming at BCL and Tati Nickel mines. It is only an irresponsible parent who will spend money to celebrate his/her 50th birthday and fail to pay school fees, buy school uniform and food for the children. Khama is obviously presiding over an irresponsible government, period.
In 2015 John Magufuli the President of Tanzania scrapped the independence celebrations. Instead he mobilized citizens to join him in a national clean-up campaign on Independence Day. He could not imagine spending millions of limited revenue on independence celebrations while Tanzanians were dying of cholera because of filth conditions in densely populated areas.
The lavish public spending had come to an end in Tanzania under John “The Bulldozer” Magufuli. This is not a question of being more or less patriotic than the previous governments of Tanzania. As the Zambian pastor whose video clip went viral on social media would say it is an issue of sound decision making.
With respect to Thanksgiving we rejected the over-politicization of the event. There were some overzealous sycophants at the Office of the President who had the guts to issue a press statement suggesting that the recent heavy rains were a result of one prayer by a single person being the President of the Republic of Botswana.
People who think this way are the type of persons who believe that Khama is equivalent to Jesus Christ although he rarely goes church. This was blasphemous to say the least. Ours is a strange country where the President prays only once in ten years and when he does it becomes big news.
The President has suddenly become a rain-maker although in the past he denied being one when he was pressurised to resolve the water crisis that was severely impacting on the socio-economic development of the country. Kentse Rammidi the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) Secretary General, put it succinctly when he said “….In the eyes of the Lord we are all mere mortals and anybody’s prayer counts no matter their position in society.”
Khama is either forgetful or unprincipled. He should be reminded of the words he used ahead of the 2009 General Elections when he gate-crushed a BCP political rally at Chadibe in the Sefhare-Ramokgonami constituency. He told a huge crowed that turned up that both the BCP and the ruling party loved this country. That the only difference is that “..we believe we can do better and they also think they can do the best for Batswana.”
The problem with Khama is that he has a funny understanding of what patriotism entails. He believes that holding divergent views from those of his government is being unpatriotic. In this respect his government frequently accuses the local media of being unpatriotic because they report news that put government in a bad light. The President behaves like a person who would crush a mirror into pieces just because it shows his scratched face from an attack by a puppy leopard. Hence government has unleashed war on the private media through acts of intimidation and harassment.
The dictionary definition of patriotism means “devoted love, support, and defence of one’s country or national loyalty.” Loyalty to the nation should not be misconstrued as loyalty to Khama and the ruling BDP. In most countries the highest form of patriotism is serving the country in the security forces especially the national army.
Interestingly both the ruling party and the opposition pride themselves of having decorated former military and police officers among their membership. It is an insult to these individuals who have sacrificed so much for the country for the president to even suggest that just because they are not in his party therefore they are unpatriotic. His views are driven by political intolerance.
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.