When the Minister of Nationality Immigration and Gender Affairs issued notice declaring that Prophet Sherpherd Bushiri of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) will require a VISA to visit Botswana ahead of a planned church crusade scheduled for May 27th 2017 the message was received with mixed reactions.
There were some who celebrated the decision and wished he should have been slapped with an order declaring him a prohibited immigrant because they believe he is a fake prophet. On the other hand many will die for him because they believe he is a true Man of God.
Bushiri or “Major One” as is popularly known is a Malawian currently running his church mission in South Africa. The church attracts multitudes because many believe that he has extra-ordinary powers to perform miracles. In the process he has attracted both enemies and friends.
In our view there are lessons to be learnt from the case of Bushiri. We should be concerned that a citizen of SADC is listed under foreigners who are required to have a VISA to enter Botswana. What is even worrying is that the Minister is not required to give reasons for his action.
The current government frequently makes irrational decisions and easily gets away with it. They take advantage of weaknesses that are inherent among Batswana as a nation. The biggest weakness is that when an individual or a section of the population is under attack from the state we tend to look the other way – the adage of ga di nkame is evoked with ease.
This is not a question of whether Bushiri is a fake or messiah. The fundamental question is one of the basic human rights of a fellow African who preaches the word of God. Claims that he may be involved in criminal activities will remain as speculation unless he was charged and evidence presented before a competent court of law.
Before Bushiri one of the richest people in Africa Aliko Dangote was denied a VISA to set foot in the Republic of Botswana for reasons that were never disclosed. In the absence any reasons advanced one can only speculate that Dangote was blacklisted because he was a threat to business interests with close ties to the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). When Dangote was denied a VISA the majority of Batswana among them followers of Bushiri decided to keep quite because they were not Nigerians.
In 2014 Julius Malema the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) was invited to be the guest speaker during the launch of Arafat Khan who was the council candidate for Borakalalo Ward in Molepolole. The Immigration Department would not grand him a VISA. Officials claimed that his application was delayed as it had to go through security vetting. His only crime was that in 2011 Malema had called for regime change in Botswana.
According to the EFF leader the country was pursuing policies that were inconsistent with the African agenda. Malema may be the only South African citizen listed under persons who require a VISA to enter Botswana. It is incredible to suggest that Malema could be a threat to national security.
A sizeable number of Batswana were of the view that Malema had no business in the internal affairs of the country. Fair enough, but the man was entitled to his views. Surprisingly the same president Khama who was angry and agitated about Malema’s utterances would later call for President Robert Mugabe to step down citing old age as the main reason.
He was basically calling for regime change in Zimbabwe. For their credit the Zimbabwean government never stooped so low as to impose VISA restrictions on President Khama. By denying Malema a visa to visit the country government of Botswana had over-reacted in an irrational manner.
When Malema was denied a visa some Batswana felt that it was none of their business because they were neither interested in politics and were not members or supporters of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) either. Certainly among Batswana who failed to speak out when government denied VISA to an innocent South African were followers of Prophet Bushiri.
Another victim of the draconian and irrational immigration laws was the American Hollywood star Rick Yune. He has been put on a list of foreigners who require VISAs to visit Botswana. Since reasons were never provided we can only speculate that the main reason why he was put on the list was because he is a close friend of Duma Boko the Leader of the Opposition who is also the leader of UDC.
Yune’s fundamental right to associate with persons or organizations of his choice must be protected and respected by all irrespective of political affiliation. There is no doubt that among Batswana who felt that it was none of their business when Yune was denied a VISA were followers of Bushiri.
Before Yune and Malema, Gordon Bennett suffered the same fate. Bennett was a British lawyer representing residents of Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR). The Basarwa community experienced constant persecution by the Botswana government. Bennett was denied a VISA ahead of a crucial court case between residents of CKGR and Botswana government in 2013.
By denying him a VISA his clients were denied the right to be represented by a lawyer of their choice. Before being put on a VISA restrictions Bennett had on three occasions successfully represented residents of CKGR and became victorious against government. As in the case of Malema and Yune many Batswana among them followers of Prophet Bushiri were uninterested since they were not residents of CKGR.
We are reminded of the famous quotation of Martin Niemoller (1892-1984), a respected Protestant pastor who was among the first Germans to speak publicly against the atrocities committed by the Nazis led by Adolf Hitler; “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out…….
Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out.
Because I am not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out…….
Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me……..and there was no one left to speak for me.”
As nation we ought to reflect on this and learn to speak out when the state attacks fellow human beings because any one can be the next on the firing line. Irrational persecution of innocent human beings must never be celebrated.
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.