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Kgosi Sebele II (Part 16): "Retlhasetswe!"



By the end of our last episode the Bechuanaland Resident Commissioner Charles Rey had, in the first week of June 1931, lured Kgosi Sebele II to Mahikeng, supposedly to discuss water projects, only to have him detained without charge and subsequently confined to Ghanzi.

In so doing the Resident Commissioner had exercised the delegated authority of the High Commissioner, which allowed for indefinite detention without the requirement to show just cause (the fundamental legal principal of 'habeas corpus') of any and all "British Protected Persons" in Bechuanaland (i.e. all non-whites in the territory).

This unbridled power was provided for by the 1907 'Expulsion Order', an instrument that had been originally been proclaimed to retroactively legitimise the prolonged detention without trial of the Batawana Kgosi Sekgoma Letsholathebe. It was thereafter wielded as a political weapon against numerous Batswana during the colonial era, including Dikgosi such as Gobuamang, Tshekedi Khama, John Nswazwi and Molefi as well as perhaps most famously Seretse Khama.

With Sebele's younger sibling Kgari recalled from his studies to act in brother's absence it initially appeared that Rey's plan to impose a new order in Molepolole was well on track. Indeed, in his assumption that the matter had been put to rest, in August 1931 the Colonial and Dominions Secretary, the Baron Passfield, forwarded his personal congratulations to Rey and his staff for a job well done.

But, the struggle over Sebele's detention was by then far from over. For their part the overwhelming majority of the Bakwena still regarded Sebele as their Kgosi. When Kgari refused to discuss his brother's return he quickly lost his hold over the people. As consistently revealed in their confidential correspondence from the period, for the next eight years the British observed that their appointed chief's authority was ignored and increasingly despised by the majority of the morafe, e.g.:

   1932: "Sebele will always be their real Chief. To the great majority of these people, imbued as they are with traditional superstition, the Chief means a good deal more than a mere individual."

   1933: "The Headmen also say that Kgari is now looked upon as a Government employee. It has been noticeable of late that he will not come to the office at the end of the month for his pay, he always waits a few days."

   1935: "Kgari's neither strong nor intelligent enough to cope….In other words this is now a government controlled tribe."

   1936: "Acceptance of the Native Tribunals Proclamation is Fait Accompli although all but the chief are suspicious. Kgari is not chief in his own right which is why he accepted."

   1938: "The Chief is not popular. Ninety percent of the Bakwena would welcome the return of his brother Sebele from Ghanzi."

   1939: "He has no personal prestige and very little authority. His tribe do not regard him as the rightful Chief but knowing he has the backing of the Government they do not openly defy him. They show their lack of respect by passive resistance, e.g. by failing to satisfy his judgements"

To the outside world, however, the situation was presented differently from what was recorded in the above reports. For example, in 1935, a circular from Rey's office spoke enthusiastically about Kgari's "experiment" of paying the members of his Senior Tribunal. Given the perception "that the Bakwena, the Senior Tribe in the territory, have almost more than any other been wedded to native custom," this step was put forward as not only evidence of local progress, "since the removal of Sebele II,'' but as a model reform for the other reserves."

 A ''BoSebele'' movement, calling for the Kgosi's restoration, soon took shape. While he was still in Mahikeng Sebele had sent his subjects the message "Retlasetswe !" ("We have been attacked or invaded"), which thereafter became a rallying, cry of his supporters. The mophato formed that year was thus graduated as the Matlaselwa.

From the beginning the BoSebele party was made up of two mutually co-operative groupings, an internal faction centred at Ntsweng and an external faction made up of labourers at Johannesburg. Both halves pursued a common strategy based upon the drawing up petitions and fund-raising for a possible legal challenge. The Johannesburg further party refused to pay their Hut Tax.

From the beginning the movement also had the Bangwaketse Kgosi Bathoen II's strong support. At his prompting Tshekedi Khama and, to lesser extent, the other Protectorate dikgosi also became actively involved in efforts on Sebele's behalf. All of these parties appear to have initially been called to action by Sebele, himself, who thereafter struggled to maintain contact with them, while pressing his own appeals.

The initial protests of Bathoen and Tshekedi and the emergence of rising BoSebele agitation within Kweneng convinced Rey that Kgari should be quickly enthroned as a full Chief. This move was justified on the alleged intent of the Bakwena, who had only agreed to Kgari's appointment in an acting capacity, and the fact that Sebele had never been confirmed by London. Thus on 1 September 1931 before Rey and reported three thousand other onlookers, Kebohula placed a leopard skin on Kgari's shoulders in ceremony designed to signify his assumption of bogosi.

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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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