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Botswana and Namibia – Partners in War and Peace


At the end of this month the President’s of Botswana and Namibia are expected to come together for the signing of a new, comprehensive border treaty between the two countries. The document will supersede the 1890 Anglo-German treaty that, among its other provisions, defined the border between the then German territory of South-West Africa and British administered Bechuanaland Protectorate.

The new treaty has come about in the context of the African Union’s (AU) June 2007 call for member states to pursue bilateral agreements on issues relating to the delimitation, demarcation and management of our common borders, a process that has since been facilitated by the African Union Border Programme’s (AUBP). The AUBP initiative is based on a common conviction that clearly marked borders can enable peaceful co-existence and profitable relations across our continent, while borders that remain disputed, or are otherwise not well demarcated on the ground, may give rise conflict.

In advancing the AUBP process member states have further remained committed to the Organization of African Unity’s (OAU) historic 1964 Cairo Resolution through which African states agreed to accept borders they had inherited at independence. The new Botswana-Nambia treaty has thus resulted from a process of detailed demarcation for the reaffirmation of the 1890 border. This technical exercise, which was given added impetus but actually predates 2007 AU call, has been further conducted in conformity with the AUBP spirit of transforming colonial era boundaries from being barriers to bridges between the peoples of this continent.  

As it is, the peoples of Botswana and Namibia have long been drawn together by common historical circumstance as well as geographic proximity. During the late nineteenth century both territories fell under colonial occupation following brief economic booms based on the export of game products. Throughout much of the twentieth century their peoples have also collectively struggled to assert their independent national identities in the face of the expansionist designs of former white ruled South Africa.

The greater portions of both Botswana and Namibia are encompassed by the Kgalagadi/Kalahari sandveld. Notwithstanding the popular myth of it’s until recent pristine isolation, for centuries communities living in this vast, semiarid region have been linked to each other and the outside world through networks of trade and social exchange. Past contact among and between various Khoisan, Shekgalagari, Setswana, and Tjiherero speaking communities complemented shared lifestyles based largely on migratory pastoralism, hunting and foraging.

For just over a quarter century the colonially defined border between Botswana and Namibia has run roughly down the middle of much of the central and northern Kalahari. As a result many communities, in particular such Khoisan speakers as the //Ai-khoe (Aukwe, Nharon), Nama, !Xo and Zhu/hoasi (Ju/wasi, Kung), have seen their historic hunting and foraging lands politically divided.

Extensive inter-regional contact has also been a long-term feature of life in and around the Okavango and Kwando-Linyanti-Chobe river systems of northern Botswana and Namibia’s adjacent Zambezi (Caprivi Strip) region. In this unique environment of water and sandy savannah interrelated communities of Hambukushu, !Khu, Shua-Khoe, Wayeyi and Veekuhane or Basubiya have also been divided by the border, except for the period between 1915 and 1930, when the Caprivi was administratively integrated into the Bechuanaland Protectorate.

Until the mid-1960s, however, this fact had limited local impact as there were few barriers to the free movement of people, who also continued to freely plant gardens and graze their cattle on opposite sides of the border. The 1885-90 British occupation of Botswana itself came about largely as a strategic response to the 1884-90 German drive into Namibia.

The two countries, however, experienced very different decolonization processes and timetables.  Whereas in 1966 Botswana peacefully regained its sovereignty from the United Kingdom; in the same year Namibians, under the leadership of the South West African People's Organization (SWAPO) began a protracted war of liberation against Apartheid South Africa’s occupation, whose ultimate success culminated in a United Nations supervised transition to full independence in 1990.

In their fight for freedom Namibians in general and SWAPO in particular, enjoyed consistent overt and quiet support from Botswana's government and people. Political solidarity between the two nations, however, dates back earlier to the mid-nineteenth century when indigenous communities throughout the Kalahari found common ground in their collective efforts to resist and/or adapt to the arrival of European socioeconomic and political influence.

In the spirit of re-discovering people to people bridges, where there have been externally imposed barriers, in the coming weeks Builders will explore the shared history that has long existed and continues to unite Batswana and Namibians. It is a history driven by such trans-national figures as Samuel and Frederick Maharero and Simon Kooper, Sekgoma Letsholathebe and Tshekedi Khama as well as countless others whose names may be lost, but whose legacy lives on.

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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