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Kgosi Sebele II (Part 15): The Coup



"I want to let you know that I have already left, even though I do not like it. I just had to follow the Whiteman's orders. But I also want you to be aware that this does not just affect me, but you all as well, all the Chieftainships of the Northern and Southern Protectorate, and the Union. Help! Help! Help! Our land and nation is going"- "Your elder brother" Kgosi Sebele II to Kgosi Tshekedi Khama, Mahikeng 10 June 1931, the day of Sebele's departure for Ghanzi.

Last week we noted that police investigations had uncovered only one case of assault and another firm allegation of attempted coerced recruitment (the alleged victim escaped) during the 1931 Bakwena bogwera. In his determination to depose Kgosi Sebele II the then Bechuanaland Protectorate Resident Commissioner, Charles Rey, nonetheless, forwarded his own exaggerated account of the dangers posed by the supposedly "new development".  Thus on 7 May 1931 the Colonial and Dominions Secretary, Sidney James Webb, finally approved the order to banish Sebele.

Sebele was in bed recuperating from illness when he received a message that he, along with his uncles Kebohula and Moiteelasilo, was urgently needed at Mafikeng to attend a meeting with the other dikgosi about water developments. But, upon his arrival at the Imperial Reserve he knew he had been deceived. Once in Rey's office, on Tuesday 2 June at 10:30 a.m., Sebele was informed that he had been "relieved of his functions" as Chief and was to be confined to Ghanzi.

Kebohula and Moiteelasilo were further instructed to serve as regents until his replacement was "elected." Sebele was further informed that he was subject to arrest should he try to remain in the Union. Shadowed constantly by South African and Protectorate police to prevent any escape, Sebele spent the next ten days consulting with his attorney, a Mr. Kieser, and stream of well-wishers, including former Bakgatla regent Isang and Simon Ratshosa.

Before the lawyer could file a motion on his behalf he and his two wives, Tlhalefang and Susan, as well as a fiancee Senwelo-a-Jacoba (who he in the end never married) were taken to the train station, where a large crowd witnessed their departure. The train crossed the Northern Cape Province into Namibia stopping at Gobabis. There another crowd including a brass band greeted their arrival, before they were trucked to Ghanzi.

A great silence is said to have descended over Molepolole as Bakwena learned that their Kgosi had been abducted. Initially people were too shocked, confused and, above all, leaderless, to act. As Sebele had told Stigand: "The head belongs to the Chief". But, whereas Bakwena conspirators had c. 1821 decapitated their monarch Motswasele II, Rey was after the monarchy itself. He wished to transform Kweneng into his ideal of a properly subordinated Tribal Administration.

The Bakwena, however, proved to be no fatalists. While B.P. officials publicly maintained that Sebele's detention reflected the will of his people, they privately reported a cycle of mounting resistance and repression as the silence gave way to resistance and sullen reticence. The first challenge to Sebele's removal was at Ntsweng. As word spread of their Kgosi's fate "a large number of women began crying and inciting people to resist any removal of Sebele's effects." When the regents, accompanied by some twenty police, tried to force their way into the royal compound they were driven away with stones.

A collection was taken up for Sebele and his secretary, Motsumi, dispatched to try to establish contact. On the way Motsumi was detained at Lobatse and barred from Kweneng as a Morolong. Although the authority of the regency had collapsed, the Resident Commissioner dismissed his subordinate’s fears and decided to proceed with his planned visit to Molepolole. He was determined to quickly install Kgari as ''acting Chief.''

Rey's steadfastness was rewarded. Upon his arrival at Molepolole, on 10 June, he encountered only modest opposition. The next day he convened a meeting at the government's Camp with twenty-five police, other officials and his wife Ninon (in whose handbag was concealed a loaded revolver) along with a crowd of some two thousand Bakwena men.

Forbidden to mention Sebele's name the crowd remained silent during most of the proceedings, while a handful of collaborators, led by Kebohula, nominated Kgari to act in brother's absence. With the older Mosarwa absent and Bonewamang then a child of six, there was little opposition to his appointment, although some controversy exists as to whether the assembly stood up (or raised their hands) in Kgari's favour, as Rey subsequently maintained, or to express their opposition to the proceedings.

The only real drama during the meeting was when an elder named Kgosimang, to loud cheers, called for Sebele's return. But, Rey appears to have had little trouble restoring order. The following day he visited Ntsweng and, by his own account, managed to placate the crowd by telling them that they would not be forced to remove to Borakalalo.

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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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