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An Open Letter to Honourable Thapelo Olopeng

Rasina Winfred Rasina
Events Review

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim! Your lordship, may it be known to you that we shall as creative artists continue to engage and shout at each other over the lack of direction and expected growth in the creative industry until you act….bona bra yaka….gobatla kegotlhamaleditse….this beautiful and unique country of ours attained independence in 1966.


It was only recently when your Ministry coordinated the celebrations to inspire patriotism, pride and confidence in ourselves for having come this far….kontleng hela gagore gawa njesa sepe….you did well….!….hakere waitse gore selo senna sharp hela ha motho ajele sengwe….hahahahaha.…wantshwara hakere….!….This communication though is not necessarily about this your lordship. Its is a cry for attention.

You are my witness that all the national celebrations are done with and through the Creative Industry. It remains the only sector that we are able to come all under one roof despite our political, social, religious and economic differences to relate as a people who come from far. A people who are still going far into a beautiful future. This cannot be done by giving the Creative Industry attention only when you want to celebrate achievements.


For the sector to grow there needs to be a proper body regulating the growth, sustainability and nurturing of the Creative Industry. Without this body, all the efforts you are putting in are merely a waste of time, resources and emotions….ese gore kebatla gogokgobera maikutlo mong wame….kegotshaba mogomaswe….this institution is a must your lordship. This body that we have for so many years been humbly and kindly requesting for is called the Botswana National Arts Council.  

Honourable Minister, the issue of the Botswana National Arts Council has been going on for many years. I specifically recall that I personally became a part of it during the tenure of Rre Thebe Mogami…..kana okae mong wame ruri.…?….who was the then Minister of Labour and Home Affairs. The Department of Youth and Culture, as it was then called, was under this particular Ministry.


I still recall yet the many meetings that proceeded to the tenure of Rre Moeng Pheto who took over from Rre Thebe Mogami from the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, where we were still some small and unrecognized department. Though being a fully fledged Ministry, we are still singing and dancing to the same old song that remains our misery, our agony and our eternal pain. I write to you as an appeal that you consider this matter an important assignment.

I travelled with this issue, both as a theatre practitioner and a music administrator to the days of the then first ever Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, her lordship Gladys Kokorwe. Many meetings were yet held, promises made, promises never fulfilled and promises vanished. Our issue never ended, it landed at the desk of Honourable Shaw Kgathi during his tenure as the Minister of Youth Sports and Culture. Very little attention, if none at all was given to the matter then.


I apologise on behalf of Honourable Shaw Kgathi on the assumption that his schedule was too tight, too busy and too engaging to consider this subject matter needing dedicated attention…..gake batle gomokgoma gosele kana bare haatenegile obolelela mosimane gore….“you a starting a war you can’t finish”….This matter is now at your desk as the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development……mogalaaammakaapaaaa…..selo se leina banna….! One can only look at you, look up you as the man at that high office and plead. Your lordship, this narration, monotonous as it sounds, is of great importance in the emphasis that this is a long, tiring, and emotionally draining journey.

Unfortunately, this matter is handled by politicians, on behalf of us creative artists. You can imagine the frustration we are going through of having being to be at the mercy of political processes yet without direct or immediate say in matters that are affecting us so painfully. Many have already died your lordship fighting this battle…..keraa gore mong wame hautlwa kegopola baswi jaana kegore pelo yame ebotlhoko ja ntho….I recall clearly my friend and my brother the late Gomolemo Motswaledi, who during his days as an employee of the Department of Youth and Culture fought for this to become a reality.


He left the civil service before this could be attained. He continued fighting for such under many other forums given to him by KTM Choir and this was never attained in his life time. I recall the late veteran, Malombo Mmereki who sat patiently in the long meetings which we the young Turks presented paper after paper justifying why this was urgent. This remains a pipe dream.

Your lordship, at one point during the reigns at of Mme Tlhabologo Ndzinge as the Director of Youth and Culture, that was sometimes between 2008 and 2009, we gathered as Arts practitioners, particularly in the field of Creative Industry policy. We spent two full days under heavy deliberations at the Botswana National Productivity Centre.


We listened to case studies from neighbouring countries on how they were able to formulate and put into life their National Arts Councils. There were about 80 of us in that gathering which was facilitated by the Chief Executive Officer of the then newly formed National Arts Council of Namibia. This was hope, and indeed just hope, that finally we are moving towards the stages of implementation and less talk.

I was to later have an opportunity to travel to Zimbabwe on a bench marking mission on the implementation and the relationship of the Zimbabwe National Arts Council and the arts practitioners in that country. I did report back to both the Ministry and the three additional funders of the trip being the Arterial Network based in Cape Town, Art Moves Africa and the British Council. Promises were made, promises never fulfilled and promises vanished.


I was to yet spend three solid weeks in Caper Town under the tutelage of the Arterial Network in expanding the scope, where several countries including, Lesotho, America, Swaziland, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Libya etcetera shared on their successes, their challenges and the journeys of their inspiration and how their National Arts Councils have inspired the Creative Economy, creating sustainable jobs, educational opportunities, cross border cultural exchanges etcetera in their respective countries….owaaaiii….nna keha kele mono hela….ese tlhong ebolaya motho mogo nna….!….

I am mentioning this because it was part of the journey that we shared and continue to share back home with your Ministry and appropriate arts organisations. These trips which were largely funded by the British Council, Arterial Network and Art Moves Africa and in some instances the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA); were meant to equip us to help the Government of Botswana to understand the need of the Botswana National Arts Council and hence whenever returning from this trip, I and others who in particular instances had the opportunity to travel such, did come back to report to your Ministry and many other relevant bodies. Promises made, promises never fulfilled, promises vanished.

Your Lordship, this is not just a communication to you that all that we are waiting for, the State Theatre, affordable venues, representation in laws, regulations and policies affecting directly and indirectly the Creative Industry sector, and all the synchronisation of efforts, can be done only effectively through the existence of the Botswana National Arts Council. If it becomes difficult to comprehend my lordship, as I know your busy schedule, simply think along the lines of the Botswana National Sports Commission.

It will make your job easier to engage. We are not saying we need another, or duplication of the Department of Arts and Culture that your Ministry already has under its many portfolios. The Botswana National Arts Council is and will be a completely different animal altogether. Your lordship, I will not be honest to say we do not appreciate your dedicated efforts in helping to build the Creative Industry.


But we need to look beyond your tenure as the Minister responsible. The next Minister might not have the vigour, robustness and passion that you carry. And when such unfortunate moment comes, we will be comforted that; the Botswana National Arts Council will carry on the journey; and your legacy. Allahur Akbar!

The Journey Continues,

Rasina Winfred Rasina
Email: rwwrasina@gmail.com
Mobile: +267 71886794      
Facebook Page: Rasina Winfred Winnie Rasina
     Twitter: Rasina_W_Rasina

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

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.

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”

UNDERSTANDING

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.”

COMMITMENT

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.

ACCEPTANCE

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.

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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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