Researcher, historian and award winning writer, Teedzani Thapelo* situates Botswana politics in the context of Western anxieties about public life, security, and happiness, and asks the critical question: in the world of Trump, Brexit, mounting terrorism, and climate damage, how should we do our politics? How best can we secure our public goods, and future? Should we allow BDP to continue creating commitments, and connections, that work against the people they represent; monstrous entanglements that work against the public interest, and the future of the country? How best can we handle our external relations? Bad politics, Thapelo says, can only lead to ruin, and it might be time students, intellectuals, and workers, started seriously taking it upon themselves to equip the public, and politicians, with ideas necessary to survival in our time.
I must point out I have only ever worked as a herd boy, researcher, academic and writer. Politics is something I am just drifting into as I enter the evening of my life. This, I suppose, is only natural. People my age worry about the future of their children, and this concern generally manifests in several ways, principal among which is the direction the country, and its public affairs, are taking.
The security, and success, of our children, is contiguous with that of the country they live in, grow in, prosper in, and eventually die in. This is something that old timers like me understand perfectly well. This, I suspect, is the reason why it is so easy for political parties to take old people to polling stations. Serious political parties understand our fears, and concerns. After years of taking personal responsibility for those you love, it is hard not to love the country they live in as well. There really is not that much difference between your country, and your home.
Any harm that comes to your country is likely to hurt you at home as well. We also know the damage people inflict on children at home eventually spills out into society in one way or the other. Nobody needs Freud to understand this simple fact. The other thing, of course, is the simple fact that as elders we are also driven by an abiding sense of nostalgia, and gratitude;
the exasperating wish that no matter how bad the odds, no matter how hard life becomes, no matter how complicated things get, and no matter how confusing the circumstances of our fragile human condition, we have a moral duty to preserve, and, improve that which gave us so much happiness, and excitement to our fading lives, and the oppressing regret, that we did so little with the possibilities open to us to build a better country, a better society, for our children.
It is not an easy thing to be a man my age. We have experienced so many things, seen so much, we know so many things, it is hard to contain all these things in the bosom of weakening hearts, and aging brains; oh, life, oh, life. Old people are great philosophers, and perfect psychologists. As we grow, we learn things along the way; the real world is our finest university. Only a few fools fail to realize this obvious fact. But I have never suffered fools in my life. Interest in politics presupposes one thing; concern about public policy.
I really do think politicians should understand this connection. Most of them don’t, and this is frequently reflected in the emptiness of their political rhetoric, and diatribes. Politics derives substance from two sources; human interaction with the natural world, and human experience of reality. I don’t want to go deeper than this but I must point out that good politics adds great value to community, and social life, and to the confidence, strength, and quality of national life. It is a recipe for great good in society.
Yes, many politicians are just greedy villains, but politics is essentially an art of conscience; a terribly fascinating art. It is through politics that we learn first-hand the complexity, and ambiguity, of both social systems, and human nature. Politics is both literature, and human life, writ large, both drama, and reality; it is the font of human existence, and both rich, and poor, worship at the same shrine in politics. This explains the origins of the parliamentary system; even democratic culture itself.
I sincerely do believe that politics can be a force for tremendous good, and that it has the potential to enrich everyone in the world. But I draw the line at arbitrary, and often disingenuous, efforts to internationalize the mantra of globalized political federation, especially when it comes to poor, small, and young, republics like Botswana. There are universal political values that we all admire, and adhere to, but all of us articulate, and domesticate, them differently.
There is nothing wrong, per se, with international standards, and expectations in politics, but everything wrong with applying the same haphazardly, and imperiously, on all and sundry, to the exclusion of local contexts, and concerns. Politics is, by nature, a very dynamic social and psychological force. It is the driving energy of social and national life. It should never be conceived as a universal abstract concern, for the simple reasons it is not.
We have different cultures, and religions, and we live in completely different natural habitats. Our politics can never be the same all the time, and all over the world. In conceptualizing politics, ecological, and behaviour, contexts matter a great deal. I am speaking to the real world, and the solutions, it daily proposes for its troubles. As a historian and enlightenment advocate, I seriously doubt the necessity to radically rethink the global political system as it has evolved since the end of the war in 1945. We tried this with the cold war, and failed. In other parts of world, such efforts have led to terrorism, and wars;
especially in the Middle East. Besides, this system, particularly its human rights, and environmental justice cultures, has benefited humanity spectacularly. It is also important to note developments, like Brexit, and the election of Trump, have just added more anxiety about this revisionist posturing; what the media calls the rise of native populism. My concern is with small countries, Botswana, in particular. How should we do our politics in the twenty first century?
How should we do our economics? What is best for us? What is likely to harm us? What is likely to benefit us? I think we should enter this debate from this direction. Let us not blindly copy what other people are doing elsewhere. This just will not get us anyway. Let us do things our own way. Some may say but, Teedzani, this is exactly what we have been doing, but I beg to differ, vociferously.
Let me explain. The dawn of the previous century, thanks to the failure of internationalism, was bathed with blood, and mass deaths, right from the beginning, and some of us were born at the height of its most puzzling madness. That is now behind us. Our own age opened with both great hope-thanks in part to the controversial workings of globalization-and serious crisis, thanks again to the mixed blessings of the same phenomenon. Politics has never been more fascinating.
This is not surprising, given the number of people now allowed to have a voice in the art of politics; close on five billion human souls, a most staggering human experience in history. For all the past centuries, politics was largely a closed art, the preserve of way less than 1% of the number of people who lived on planet earth.
Just imagine that! By the end of the nineteenth century little Britain alone controlled three-quarters of our earth, possessing colonies, and dominion subjects, in every continent in the world, and where the British flag flew in the skies only propertied, well-educated British males voted, and everybody else, man or woman, black or white, young or old, obeyed British imperial diktat without raising a voice every day of their miserable lives on earth.
In less than a hundred years we have managed to bring more than 70% of earth inhabitants into political life. Is it any wonder politics itself is now rapidly changing as an art of managing human and environmental affairs? I think not. The people shocked, at the recent political experiences in the America of Trump, Brexit, Islamic terrorism, and the frightful political horrors in Africa, are people who have no sense of history, no knowledge of modern human experience. Look at the financial crisis of 1997 and 2008;
both of which eventually engulfed the whole world. Look at climate change. Look at the coming of freedom to African peoples. All these things have happened before but they happened in a different world, a fragmented and much smaller world, a world though occupied by many people, remained nothing more than isolated pockets of human islands, most of which knew nothing about each other.
Today thanks to integration of global markets, rising education standards, low communication, and transportation costs, the wide opening of political markets, the world has become completely different, much more complex, and sophisticated, and though in many ways still a small world, the expectations of all who live in it are now more pronounced, and the resources are becoming more strained under the pressures of ballooning populations; and this is a world we are still trying to figure out how best it can be managed. Is it any wonder our political lives are so turbulent?
In past centuries three subjects obsessed mankind; philosophy, theology and science. In our own time science, unsurprisingly, retains its place in the minds of scholars because broadly it is the source of all human life. God has failed so many people it really is no surprise theology is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Politics, and economics, both of which descend from philosophy and history, have now conquered human imagination.
It is these two disciplines that presently have the force to either help us create paradise on earth, or drive the entire human race, and planet earth itself, to ruin, and extinction. The sad thing is, not many politicians, and economists seem to realize this. Yes, technology, and nuclear science, are just as potent, but if they are going to ruin, and end human life, that would be the result of political decisions made by people who should have known better. It is not the first time in history that human beings have possessed weapons of mass destruction. In the end, it is how we use them that really matters.
Politics on the other hand is a different phenomenon altogether. If I had my own way, nobody would go into politics without a firm grasp of the potential for politics to either build, or destroy, societies. But then we live in changing times, and democratic culture, which so many clamour for, and so few really understand, dictate that all must have a say in their fates, and destinies. I really have no problem with that. What bothers me is the ignorance that characterizes political discourse, and practice, especially in Africa, and more troubling here in Botswana.
What I am going to say in this article will, no doubt, shock many in this country, and please a few. But I don’t mind sticking out my head for the truth. The subject of contention here must set a lot of minds to great reflection, and I have no doubt, it will generate a lot of debates. That is good for our democracy. To succeed as a nation, and a people, we need to be honest with ourselves. This is what the New Politics of our time is all about; raw truth, and honesty.
Good education, travel, television, internet connectivity, and cellular phones, now assure that billions of people have first-hand knowledge of how the real world works. The world of research is now wide open to billions of people. In much of the modern world ignorance is now a matter of personal choice. Things are still, of course, different in Africa were millions are struggling daily to get into school, to put food on the table-if they have one-and just to make it through the day. Such experiences abound here in Botswana as well, but in all honesty we are doing much better than other Africans.
As a matter of fact, we really could be doing excellently by now, but both our politics, and economic lives, are rotten, and for that we only have ourselves to blame. The fact that we openly admit our mistakes, and failures, I take to be a sign we are ready, and willing, to correct them, to put things right. People in opposition politics are clearly prepared to take this road. At BDP they are still in denial. They see themselves as national heroes, and heroes don’t make mistakes, heroes don’t fail.
What a load of nonsense! The reality is that people at BDP are scared shitless. They fear not only for their future lives, but also for the promises, and commitments, they have made to others, to outsiders, and worse, the crimes they have committed against the people, and the state. They fear enemies they invited, and continue to bring, into the republic. In life we are free to choose our friends. If such friendships eventually hurt us, then we have only ourselves to blame.
But people who hold political office by public mandate have no right to create friendships, and political commitments, and connections, that work against the people they represent; monstrous entanglements that work against the public interest, and the future of the country, things that may completely change the face, and spirit, of Botswana, as we know them today, to the detriment of not only Batswana, but the entire land as well.
Batswana gave BDP the privilege to govern but not destroy Botswana, and Batswana. This much I must make clear. Good governance has the potential to benefit everyone in the country. Bad politics, and misguided economic policy, on the other hand can only accomplish one thing; national ruin. BDP rule needs to be radically rethought. The way we are governed is very troubling. I lived in Britain under the premierships of Margaret Thatcher, John Major, and Tony Blair, and every time a serious economic or social issue threatened public lives, and national security, you would be excused to think bees were trying to create their hives throughout England.
Every time reform was proposed in education, social security, transport, labour, wages, nationalization or privatization of public utilities, even bankruptcies of large private employers of labour like multinationals, or mergers of the same that might threaten workers, and public welfare, and safety, there would be a great deal of buzz, and intellectual, bellowing throughout Westminster, the City of London, Oxford, Cambridge and the Midlands.
Students and professors equipped with terrific ideas would march in the streets prescribing solutions. Workers would join them, armed to the teeth with their own fantastic solutions, and politicians, all of whom have offices stuffed with the finest researchers in the land, would have a hard time just trying to be heard by any side of the protagonists. Political constituencies would rise in revolt, demanding to be heard, and every hour or two freely sweating politicians from both sides of the House of Commons would be forced to appear on TV channels desperately defending their positions on the issue. Voters in Britain always voice their concerns on all public issues.
In the end a solution would be found, probably not suitable to everybody, but I always noted people were satisfied they had been heard, and if the solution recommended turned out to be too costly, unworkable, or even more of a threat than was expected, it would be brought down, torn to pieces, and another road taken. I know how democracy functions in civilised society. I have since lived in Canada, South Africa, and Sweden, and here public issues arouse just as much interest, and debate.
But in Botswana, well, I don’t even know what to say. Try to talk to a politician about bankruptcy law, or educational reform, and he will refer you to his permanent secretary, who in turn will refuse to talk to you, or refer you to a foreign consultant whose advice they frequently seek, and the latter will appeal to confidentiality clauses; you just can never get anywhere. Such matters only interest a few unionised workers, and journalists, who, in reality, are the only people daily engaged in democratic process, and struggles, in this country. The rest of the population cares not what happens so long as they have food to eat.
Many laws, and reforms, in public life, pass unchallenged because the majority of Batswana do not think it their business to engage in public affairs. Most of the time a few words memo from the president-acting alone-is enough to propose a solution to a complex issue like privatization of national assets, and transference of national symbols to the direct ownership of foreigners, and the matter ends there, and everybody goes out to drink beer, enjoy sex, and snore till kingdom come. Isn’t this shocking?
Worse, not one of these so-called government policies has really ever worked! It is easy to blame opposition politicians, but these committed men, and women, are terribly under-resourced, in fact they depend entirely on their brains to get any work to be done at all. They have no really well trained researchers, competent legal advisors, and their workload is alarmingly huge, comprising as it does, not only parliamentary business, but constituency services as well as family commitments.
In other countries brilliant university students, and professors, volunteer their services in opposition offices, or accept work as interns, helping to considerably reduce this burden, and open political, and research, careers for themselves in public life through such opportunities. But here university teachers with no knowledge of public life at all and no highly specialized, and internationally acclaimed, research background on matters of national interest, expect to be picked from their small perches in academia, and be appointed directly to parliament, or worse, cabinet. Is it surprising that many of them have failed so dismally; read Sheila Tlou and other BDP PhD holders?
Do Batswana know any famous researcher who has been turned up by Government Enclave? Do you know any famous Botswana researcher who comes from the University of Botswana? Why is it that all solutions to the serious problems facing our country never work? Isn’t the answer obvious? We never research our problems! We never seriously think about them. We never seriously talk about them. People just take it everything written on paper will work out in the real world. Are we really that foolish? Now here is where we err most. Two things corrode our ability to deal with national problems, even when we have resources at hand; ideology, and politics.
All my life I have noticed that decisions to deal with problems are made because of politics, and ideology. Such actions, of course, never solve the problems at hand. BDP likes doing things this way because such actions perfectly fit the beliefs, and interests, of the people in power. In short, they make policies for themselves, for their own benefit, as a political group, and the entire nation sees nothing wrong with this; the attitude is: if you can’t beat them, join them, and meanwhile, everything throughout the country goes to ruin and waste every hour of the day. Just what kind of citizens are we?
French intellectual Pierre Bourdieu has suggested that politicians must learn to behave like scholars, to engage in scientific debate, to look for evidence before they can engage in actions for the solutions of national problems. Well, I suppose this might work elsewhere. Probably that’s how governments now do things in their countries elsewhere.
But here where not one politician knows the meaning of the word research, and given politicians spend most of their time with witchdoctors, bathing in piglet, and chicken blood, trying to divine the least costly ways of doing away with their opponents, within, and outside, the party, this sort of thing is never ever going to work. It’s not an easy thing to live in Africa. I know BDP often involves foreign professors in making policy recommendations but these routinely get politicized.
Frequently, even good policy prescriptions are bent to fit with the ideas, and expectations, of BDP cabinet ministers, and their Indian, and Lebanese allies. Batswana are always left out, including the majority of BDP members who live in rural areas that have seen their real incomes decline by more than fifty per cent in less than twenty years. I wonder what the witchdoctors, most of who live in rural areas, think about this. Isn’t it, perhaps, time they ditched these BDP hypocrites, and start taking the side of the suffering majority?
I don’t know what the success rate for these nocturnal mumbo jumbo services are, but I don’t suppose many Batswana would mind much if these fellows started helping us to divine the least costly ways of getting rid of our useless BDP politicians. A backward economy like Botswana can easily benefit from advanced and latest ideas in applied subjects like the economics of the public sector, development, and monetary policy. I am thinking here subjects such as bankruptcy; for we should expect many failures going ahead, corporate governance, and the openness of, and access, to information.
We really ought to know how to handle such transitional transactions before we can talk about things like privatization, before we can create a really working stock market, pass, and implement, effective competition laws, and other institutions, that add value to a small growing economy. We must always get our priorities right. Put resources where they are needed most, at the right time, and for the right reasons. As things stand right now, it is obvious the legal flatulence that assaults society every other day from BDP parliament is informed by nothing else but pure political greed, and the endless demands, and expectations, of crony capitalism.
This is dangerous given how poor the country is. Our markets are small, and not at all competitive. Our resource base is small. Our tax base is small, and contracting. How best can we really improve the lives of our citizens? This is the simple question that should exercise the minds of our politicians; not how best can we engorge till we bust. Good economic policies have the potential to really lift thousands of Batswana from extreme levels of poverty.
Our researchers must stop picking whole ideas and paragraphs from World Bank and IMF research papers, and start seriously engaging in local empirical research in the areas of market imperfections, and failures, so that we evolve theoretical work in economics that will make our markets work for us.
We need local research work that convincingly explain things such as differences in information between workers and employers, lenders and borrowers, the insurance companies and the insured. We need to lay firm foundations for more realistic theories of labour, and financial markets, we need to know why there is unemployment, and why those who need credit often cannot get it; just simple things like that.
Local economic expertise must inform World Bank, and IMF research findings, and not the other way round. IMF researchers, for instance, only spend, on average, only three weeks here, reading rotten government documents, in their hotels, and then after they are gone, we turn to their stupid reports, always based on simplistic economic models, for information about how we should manage our economy. Isn’t that silly? Our own researchers live here all their lives and they need to do better than this.
Information economics, with its useful analysis of labour, capital, and product markets, is critical in the development of macroeconomic models that provide deeper insights into unemployment, and theories with strong policy implications for economic growth. We need theories which are in touch with the real world. I am just giving one example.
But in 2016 the Nobel Committee awarded an economics prize for contract law which means the world is really moving forward. We should be doing the same. Archaic economic models will not do us any good. We need social models that speak to the situation, and condition of Botswana.
Planet earth is changing, the environmental world is changing, global economic trends are becoming more complicated, and uncertain, and we really need to know ourselves well, to know our country, and appreciate our circumstances, and changing situation well, if we are to grow, and prosper, as a nation, and a republic. It happens, sometimes, that models developed in other developing nations may work here, but most of the time, home grown is better, and more rewarding. Stop those silly wasteful benchmarking trips, and start educating yourselves, about your own needs, and possibilities for success. That is the way forward.
Teedzani Thapelo*, is author of the Botswana novel series Seasons of Thunder, Vol. 1(2014), Vol. 2 (2015) and Vol. 3 (2016) and forthcoming books; Battle Against the Botswana Democratic Party: the beginning of the point of departure, Politics of Unfulfilled Expectations in Botswana: a dangerous mess, Philosophy of Death and the Ruin of Selibe-Phikwe: abandonment and revolt, The Argument Against the Botswana Democratic Party: an intellectual inquiry and Khama Presidency and Vanity Fair in Parliament: an African political tragedy.
In recent years, using personal devices in working environments has become so commonplace it now has its own acronym, BOYD (Bring Your Own Device). Â But as employees skip between corporate tools and personal applications on their own devices, their actions introduce a number of possible risks that should be managed and mitigated with careful consideration.Â Consider these examples:
Si-lwli, a small family-run business in Wales, is arguably as niche a company as you could find, producing talking toys used to promote the Welsh language. Their potential market is small, with only some 300,000 Welsh language speakers in the world and in reality the business is really more of a hobby for the husband-and-wife team, who both still have day jobs.Â Yet, despite still managing to be successful in terms of sales, theÂ business is now fighting for survival after recently falling prey to cybercriminals. Emails between Si-Iwli and their Chinese suppliers were intercepted by hackers who altered the banking details in the correspondence, causing Si-Iwli to hand over ÂŁ18,000 (around P Âź m) to the thieves. That might not sound much to a large enterprise, but to a small or medium business it can be devastating.
Another recent SMB hacking story whichÂ appeared in the Wall Street Journal concerned Innovative Higher Ed Consulting (IHED) Inc, a small New York start-up with a handful of employees. IHED didnât even have a website, but fraudsters were able to run stolen credit card numbers through the companyâs payment system and reverse the charges to the tune of $27,000, around the same loss faced by Si-Iwli. Â As the WSJ put it, the hackers completely destroyed the company, forcing its owners to fold.
And in May 2019, the city of Baltimoreâs computer system was hit by a ransomware attack, with hackers using a variant called RobinHood. The hack, which has lasted more than a month, paralysed the computer system for city employees, with the hackers demanding a payment in Bitcoin to give access back to the city.
Of course, hackers target governments or business giants Â but small and medium businesses are certainly not immune. In fact, 67% of SMBs reported that they had experienced a cyber attack across a period of 12 months, according to a 2018 survey carried out by security research firm Ponemon Institute. Additionally, Verizon issued a report in May 2019 that small businesses accounted for 43% of its reported data breaches.Â Once seen as less vulnerable than PCs, smartphone attacks are on the rise, with movements like the Dark Caracal spyware campaign underlining the allure of mobile devices to hackers. Last year, the US Federal Trade Commission released a statement calling for greater education on mobile security, coming at a time when around 42% of all Android devices are believed to not carry the latest security updates.
This is an era when employees increasingly use their smartphones for work-related purposes so is your business doing enough to protect against data breaches on their employeesâ phones? The SME Cyber Crime Survey 2018 carried out for risk management specialists AON showed that more than 80% of small businesses did not view this as a threat yet if as shown, 67% of SMBs were said to have been victims of hacking, either the stats are wrong or business owners are underestimating their vulnerability.Â A 2019 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers suggests the latter, stating that the majority of global businesses are unprepared for cyber attacks.
Consider that a workstation no longer means a desk in an office: It can be a phone in the back of a taxi or Uber; a laptop in a coffee shop, or a tablet in an airport lounge.Â Wherever the device is used, employees can potentially install applications that could be harmful to your business, even from something as seemingly insignificant as clicking on an accidental download or opening a link on a phishing email.Â Out of the physical workplace, your employeesâ activities might not have the same protections as they would on a company-monitored PC.
Yet many businesses not only encourage their employees to work remotely, but assume working from coffee shops, bookstores, and airports can boost employeesâ productivity. Â Unfortunately, many remote hot spots do not provide secure Wi-Fi so if your employee is accessing their work account on unsecured public Wi-Fi,Â sensitive business data could be at risk. Furthermore, even if your employee uses a company smartphone or has access to company data through a personal mobile device, there is always a chance data could be in jeopardy with a lost or stolen device, even information as basic as clientsâ addresses and phone numbers.
BOYDs are also at risk from malware designed to harm and infect the host system, transmittable to smartphones when downloading malicious third-party apps.Â Then there is ransomware, a type of malware used by hackers to specifically take control of a systemâs data, blocking access or threatening to release sensitive information unless a ransom is paid such as the one which affected Baltimore.Â Ransomware attacks are on the increase, Â predicted toÂ occur every 14 seconds, potentially costing billions of dollars per year.
Lastly there is phishing â the cyber equivalent of the metaphorical fishing exercise – Â wherebyÂ cybercriminals attempt to obtain sensitive data âusernames, passwords, credit card details âusually through a phoney email designed to look legitimate which directs the user to a fraudulent website or requests the data be emailed back directly. Most of us like to think we could recognize a phishing email when we see it, but these emails have become more sophisticated and can come through other forms of communication such as messaging apps.
Bottom line is to be aware of the potential problems with BOYDs and if in doubt,Â consult your IT security consultants.Â You canât put the own-device genie back in the bottle but you can make data protection one of your three wishes!
About five days before Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed landed in Paris, General Atiku, a certain Edward Williams was taking a walk in a woods in the Welsh town of Mountain Ash. Williams, then 73, was a psychic of some renown. He had in the past foretold assassination attempts on US President Ronald Reagan, which occurred on March 30, 1981, and Pope John Paul II, which came to pass on May 13, 1981.
As he trudged the woods, Williams Â had a sudden premonition that pointed to Dianaâs imminent fate as per Christopher Andersenâs book The Day Diana Died. âWhen the vision struck me, it was as if everything around me was obscured and replaced by shadowy figures,â Williams was later to reminisce. âIn the middle was the face of Princess Diana. Her expression was sad and full of pathos. She was wearing what looked like a floral dress with a short dark cardigan. But it was vague. I went cold with fear and knew it was a sign that she was in danger.â
Williams hastily beat a retreat to his home, which he shared with his wife Mary, and related to her his presentiment, trembling like an aspen leaf as he did so. âI have never seen him so upset,â Mary recounted. âHe felt he was given a sign and when he came back from his walk he was deeply shaken.â
The following day, Williams frantically sauntered into a police station to inform the police of his premonition. The officer who attended to him would have dismissed him as no more than a crackpot but he treated him seriously in view of the accuracy of his past predictions. HeÂ took a statement and immediately passed it on to the Special Branch InvestigativeÂ Unit.
The report read as follows:
âOn 27 August, at 14:12 hrs, a man by the name of Edward Williams came to Mountain Ash police station. He said he was a psychic and predicted that Princess Diana was going to die. In previous years, he has predicted that the Pope and Ronald Reagan were going to be the victims of assassination attempts. On both occasions he was proved to be correct. Mr Williams appeared to be quite normal.â
Williams, General, was spot-on as usual: four days later, the princess was no more.
Meanwhile, General, Â even as Dodi and Diana were making their way to the Fayed-owned Ritz Hotel in central Paris, British newspapers were awash with headlines that suggested Diana was kind of deranged. Writes Andrew Morton in Diana in Pursuit of Love: âIn The Independent Diana was described as âa woman with fundamentally nothing to say about anythingâ. She was âsuffering from a form of arrested developmentâ. âIsnât it time she started using her head?â asked The Mail on Sunday. The Sunday Mirror printed a special supplement entitled âA Story of Loveâ; The News of the World claimed that William had demanded that Diana should split from Dodi: âWilliam canât help it, he just doesnât like the man.â William was reportedly âhorrifiedâ and âdoesnât think Mr Fayed is good for his motherâ â or was that just the press projecting their own prejudices? The upmarket Sunday Times newspaper, which had first serialised my biography of the princess, now put her in the psychiatristâs chair for daring to be wooed by a Muslim. The pop-psychologist Oliver James put Diana âOn the Couchâ, asking why she was so âdepressedâ and desperate for love. Other tabloids piled in with dire prognostications â about Prince Philipâs hostility to the relationship, Dianaâs prospect of exile, and the social ostracism she would face if she married Dodi.â
DIANA AND DODI AT THE RITZ
Before Diana and Dodi departed the Villa Windsor sometime after 16 hrs, General, one of Dodiâs bodyguards Trevor Rees-Jones furtively asked Diana as to what the programme for the evening was. This Trevor did out of sheer desperation as Dodi had ceased and desisted from telling members of his security detail, let alone anyone else for that matter, what his onward destination was for fear that that piece of information would be passed on to the paparazzi. Diana kindly obliged Trevor though her response was terse and scarcely revealing. âWell, eventually we will be going out to a restaurantâ, that was all Diana said. Without advance knowledge of exactly what restaurant that was, Trevor and his colleaguesâ hands were tied: they could not do a recce on it as was standard practice for the security team of a VIP principal.Â Dodi certainly, General, was being recklessly by throwing such caution to the winds.
At about 16:30, Diana and Dodi drew up at the Ritz Hotel, where they were received by acting hotel manager Claude Roulet. Â The front entrance of the hotel was already crawling with paparazzi, as a result of which the couple took the precaution of using the rear entrance, where hopefully they would make their entry unperturbed and unmolested. The first thing they did when they were ensconced in the now $10,000 a night Imperial Suite was to spend some time on their mobiles and set about touching base with friends, relations, and associates. Â Diana called at least two people, her clairvoyant friend Rita Rogers and her favourite journalist Richard Kay of The Daily Mail.
Rita, General, Â was alarmed that Diana had proceeded to venture to Paris notwithstanding the warning she had given Dodi and herself in relation to what she had seen of him Â in the crystal ball when the couple had consulted her. When quizzed as to what the hell she indeed was doing in Paris at that juncture, Diana replied that she and Dodi had simply come to do some shopping, which though partially true was not the material reason they were there. âBut Diana, remember what I told Dodi,â Rita said somewhat reprovingly. Diana a bit apprehensively replied, âYes I remember. I will be careful. I promise.â Well, Â she did not live up to her promise as we shall soon unpack General.
As for Richard Kay, Diana made known to him that, âI have decided I am going to radically change my life. I am going to complete my obligations to charities and to the anti-personnel land mines cause, but in November I want to completely withdraw from formal public life.â
Once she was done with her round of calls, Diana went down to the hair saloon by the hotel swimming pool to have her hair washed and blow-dried ahead of the scheduled evening dinner.
THEâTELL ME YESâ RING IS DELIVERED
Since the main object of their Paris trip was to pick up the âTell Me Yesâ engagement ringÂ Dodi had ordered in Monte Carlo a week earlier, Dodi decided to check on Repossi Jewellery, which was right within the Ritz prencincts, known as the Place Vendome. Â It could have taken less than a minute for Dodi to get to the store on foot but he decided to use a car to outsmart the paparazzi invasion. He was driven there by Trevor Rees-Jones, with Alexander Kez Wingfield and Claude Roulet following on foot, though he entered the shop alone.
The Repossi store had closed for the holiday season but Alberto Repossi, accompanied by his wife and brother-in-law, Â had decided to travel all the way from his home in Monaco Â and momentarily open it for the sake of the potentially highly lucrativeÂ Dodi transaction. Â Alberto, however, disappointed Dodi as the ring he had chosen was not the oneÂ he produced. The one he showed Dodi was pricier and perhaps more exquisite but DodiÂ was adamant that he wanted the exact one he had ordered as that was what Diana herself had picked. It was a ployÂ on the part of Repossi to make a real killing on the sale, his excuse to that effect being that Diana deserved a ring tha was well worthy of her social pedigree.Â With Dodi having expressed disaffection, Repossi rendered his apologies and assured Dodi he would make the right ring available shortly, whereupon Dodi repaired back to the hotel to await its delivery. But Dodi Â did insist nonetheless that the pricier ring be delivered too in case it appealed to Diana anyway.
Repossi delivered the two rings an hour later. They were collected by Roulet. On inspecting them, Dodi chose the very one he had seen in Monte Carlo, apparently at the insistence of Diana.Â There is a possibility that Diana, who was very much aware of her public image and was not comfortable with ostentatious displays of wealth, may have deliberately shown an interest in a less expensive engagement ring. It Â may have been a purely romantic as opposed to a prestigious Â choice for her.
The value of the ring, which was found on a wardrobe shelf in Dodiâs apartment after the crash, Â has been estimated to be between $20,000 and $250,000 as Repossi has always refused to be drawn into revealing how much Dodi paid for it. The sum, which enjoyed a 25 percent discount, was in truth paid for not by Dodi himself but by his father as was the usual practice.
Dodi was also shown Repossiâs sketches for a bracelet, a watch, and earrings which he proposed to create if Diana approved of them.
DIANA AND DODI GUSH OVER IMMINENT NUPTIALS
At about 7 pm, Â Dodi and Diana left the Ritz and headed for Dodiâs apartment at a place known as the Arc de Trompe. They went there to properly tog themselves out for the scheduled evening dinner. They spent two hours at the luxurious apartment. As usual, the ubiquitous paparazzi were patiently waiting for them there.
As they lingered in the apartment, Dodi beckoned over to his butler Rene DelormÂ and showed himÂ the engagement ring. âDodi came into my kitchen,â Delorm relates. âHe looked into the hallway to check that Diana couldnât hear and reached into his pocket and pulled out the box âŚ He said, âRene, Iâm going to propose to the princess tonight. Make sure that we have champagne on ice when we come back from dinnerâ.â Rene described the ring as âa spectacular diamond encrusted ring, a massive emerald surrounded by a cluster of diamonds, set on a yellow and white gold band sitting in a small light-grey velvet boxâ.
Just before 9 pm, Dodi called the brother of his step-father, Hassan Yassen, who also was staying at the Ritz Â that night, and told him that he hoped to get married to Diana by the end of the year.
Later that same evening, both Dodi and Diana would talk to Mohamed Al Fayed, Dodiâs dad, and make known to him their pre-nuptial intentions. âThey called me and said weâre coming backÂ (to London) on Sunday (August 31) and on Monday (September 1) they are
Ramadan is the fasting month for Muslims, where over one billion Muslims throughout the world fast from dawn to sunset, and pray additional prayers at night. It is a time for inner reflection, devotion to Allah, and self-control. It is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. As you read this Muslims the world over have already begun fasting as the month of Ramadan has commenced (depending on the sighting of the new moon).
âThe month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur’an was revealed as guidance for people, in it are clear signs of guidance and Criterion, therefore whoever of you who witnesses this month, it is obligatory on him to fast it. But whoever is ill or traveling let him fast the same number of other days, God desires ease for you and not hardship, and He desires that you complete the ordained period and glorify God for His guidance to you, that you may be grateful”. Holy Qur’anÂ (2 : 185)
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars upon which the structure of Islam is built. The other four are: the declaration of oneâs belief in Allahâs oneness and in the message of Muhammad (PBUH); regular attendance to prayer; payment of zakaat (obligatory charity); and the pilgrimage to Mecca.
As explained in an earlier article, fasting includes total abstinence from eating, drinking, smoking, refraining from obscenity, avoiding getting into arguments and including abstaining from marital relations, from sunrise to sunset. While fasting may appear to some as difficult Muslims see it as an opportunity to get closer to their Lord, a chance to develop spiritually and at the same time the act of fasting builds character, discipline and self-restraint.
Just as our cars require servicing at regular intervals, so do Muslims consider Ramadan as a month in which the body and spirit undergoes as it were a âfull serviceâ. This âserviceâ includes heightened spiritual awareness both the mental and physical aspects and also the body undergoing a process of detoxification and some of the organs get to ârestâ through fasting.
Because of the intensive devotional activity fasting, Ramadan has a particularly high importance, derived from its very personal nature as an act of worship but there is nothing to stop anyone from privately violating Allahâs commandment of fasting if one chooses to do so by claiming to be fasting yet eating on the sly. This means that although fasting is obligatory, its observance is purely voluntary. If a person claims to be a Muslim, he is expected to fast in Ramadan.
The reward Allah gives for proper fasting is very generous. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) quotes Allah as saying: âAll actions done by a human being are his own except fasting, which belongs to Me and I will reward it accordingly.â We are also told by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that the reward for proper fasting is admittance into heaven.
Fasting earns great reward when it is done in a âproperâ manner. This is because every Muslim is required to make his worship perfect. For example perfection of fasting can be achieved through restraint of oneâs feelings and emotions. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that when fasting, a person should not allow himself to be drawn into a quarrel or a slanging match. He teaches us: âOn a day of fasting, let no one of you indulge in any obscenity, or enter into a slanging match. Should someone abuse or fight him, let him respond by saying: âI am fasting!ââ
This high standard of self-restraint fits in well with fasting, which is considered as an act of self-discipline. Islam requires us to couple patience with voluntary abstention from indulgence in our physical desires. The purpose of fasting helps man to attain a high degree of sublimity, discipline and self-restraint. In other words, this standard CAN BE achieved by every Muslim who knows the purpose of fasting and strives to fulfill it.
Fasting has another special aspect. It makes all people share in the feelings of hunger and thirst. In normal circumstances, people with decent income may go from one yearâs end to another without experiencing the pangs of hunger which a poor person may feel every day of his life. Such an experience helps to draw the rich oneâs conscience nearer to needs of the poor. A Muslim is encouraged to be more charitable and learns to give generously for a good cause.
Fasting also has a universal or communal aspect to it. As Muslims throughout the world share in this blessed act of worship, their sense of unity is enhanced by the fact that every Muslim individual joins willingly in the fulfillment of this divine commandment. This is a unity of action and purpose, since they all fast in order to be better human beings. As a person restrains himself from the things he desires most, in the hope that he will earn Allahâs pleasure, self-discipline and sacrifice become part of his nature.
The month of Ramadan can aptly be described as a âseason of worship.â Fasting is the main aspect of worship in this month, because people are more attentive to their prayers, read the Qurâan more frequently and also strive to improve on their inner and outer character. Thus, their devotion is more complete and they feel much happier in Ramadan because they feel themselves to be closer to their Creator.