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Kgosi Sebele II (Part 17): Protest Begats Persecution



In our last episode we observed that the initial protests of Dikgosi Bathoen II and Tshekedi Khama, along with the emergence of rising BoSebele agitation within Kweneng convinced Rey that Kgari should be quickly enthroned as a full Chief. Thus it was that on the 1st of September 1931 Kebohula placed a leopard skin on Kgari's shoulders in ceremony designed to signify his assumption of bogosi.

Even the British, however, continued to have doubts about Kgari's legal status as Chief given his appointment as Acting Chief coupled with the fact that Sebele had been banished but not legally charged much less deposed. In an ill-conceived effort to bolster Kgari's wavering authority further, Rey decided to raid the Bakwena Tribal Fund in order to build his Kgosi a new house between Ntsweng and Borakalalo, the two sometimes rival sub-villages of Molepolole. It was hoped that members of the fractured morafe would move toward the new royal residence, thus bringing the village together.

Neale wrote "until the whole scheme is complete we cannot consider that the Bakwena troubles have been satisfactorily dealt with." But, for several years thereafter, the Chief's only neighbours were his tax collector, Martinus Seboni, and the tribal police. While Kgari worried about installing his veranda, the BoSebele were actively appealing ''that the British tradition of fair play and justice be observed." Their efforts culminated in the "Great Petition" of March 6, 1933, a document which contained 1,407 signatures representing most of Molepolole's family heads.  

The size of the petition, along with another one containing 516 signatures, which had been submitted the previous year, was unprecedented. In contrast, the petitions that had been filed against Sebele in the past had never included more than 25 names. Both documents, which were legally drafted, denied the legitimacy of Sebele’s removal and Kgari's "election," calling for their Kgosi to be either returned or tried in a court. The petitioners had benefited from the continuing support of Bathoen and Tshekedi, who also managed to get the question of Sebele's detention brought before the British House of Commons. But, their efforts to raise the issue at the local Native Advisory Council were overruled.

Sebele's cause was also loudly taken up at international as well as regional level by the Communist Party of South Africa. Locally the BoSebele scored a symbolic victory by holding up renegotiation of mining concessions until the exiled Sebele was formally consulted. Having committed themselves at Kgari's investiture, the British nevertheless felt obliged to uphold his authority (to the point of extra-judicially quashing a charge of attempted rape against him), despite their increasing misgivings about his character. As the local British magistrate reported:

''As far as I can see his principal hobbies are motor cars and cogitating as to how he can increase his income with the least trouble to himself; if he ever gave a thought to tribal interests it must have been a long time ago and he has solved how to rule a tribe, to his complete satisfaction, by doing nothing.”

Without local legitimacy there was in fact probably little that Kgari could accomplish. When not dependent on the coercive power of the colonial state, bogosi ultimately had to function according to a moral consensus forged within the makgotla. During the early years of Kgari's reign junior makgotla, for the most part, simply disregarded Kgosing's role as the ultimate arbiter of their disputes.

Ignoring the Great Petition, Rey's men pressured Kgari to take a firm stand against all opposed to his rule. Leading BoSebele were threatened and fined. Some teachers, including Kgari's younger brother Kwanyangkwanyang lost their jobs. As repression grew others, not directly part of the movement, also suffered. At Gabane, Kgari's deposition of the local ruler, Sebele's ally Masokwane, began a cycle of strife that was to last for decades. In the Kweneng-Kgalagadi the Chief's implementation of Rey's Native Administration and Justice Proclamations resulted in the Bakgalagadi communities being placed under generally unpopular Bakwena overseers.

Political persecution reached a crescendo in 1937. In that year nine members of the Church of God, an independent Pentecostal movement, were given prison sentences of two months each with hard labour for their refusal to abandon their faith. Others were fined and in some cases imprisoned for attending the first of many underground bogwera  and bojale  schools.

But the greatest single act of repression inflicted during the sad year was the forced removal of both the Ntsweng and Borakalalo sections of Molepolole to the area around Kgari's house. Six years of effort to make the people move through the "persistent application of pacific pressure" had failed. Besides being an embarrassment, the continued isolation of the Chief's residence made it easy to ignore his authority.

In November1933 Rey also adopted as an additional goal residential race segregation. Sebele had clashed with the British and members of the European Advisory Council over his insistence that Sekwena law "applies to all, European and Non-European."  As readers may recall during the 1920s official South African, as well as British, concern about race relations in Molepolole had been further excited by the periodic appearance of newspaper articles bearing such headlines as "Black Chief's White Slaves."

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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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