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Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White 

In 1984 Britain’s Prince Charles paid a private visit to Botswana, spending time in the Kalahari and the Okavango.  In this he was fulfilling a lifetime ambition, having become fascinated with the area through the writings of his close friend, anthropologist and author, Lawrence van der Post.  Many people bemoaned the fact that he was not accompanied by his wife, Princess Diana as although it was only a couple of years into their marriage, she had already acquired an aura of glamour, celebrity status and public fascination.

At the time, her absence was publicly laughed by the Prince’s staff with a breezy reference to her vast wardrobe which along with her own entourage, according to them, would have required a second large transport aircraft to accommodate the lot.  In private, however, some conceded that the Prince favoured a private holiday with some ‘me’ time.  In retrospect it was clear that this was only one of several early warning signs in this stormy and unsuitable match.

Writing this piece on the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death naturally leads to much introspection, including the unpopularity faced by the Prince in the public grief over her untimely death and the backlash from his infidelity.  Who cannot remember her pithy  one-liner in the controversial Martin Bashir interview when she remarked ‘Well, there were three  of us in the marriage so it was a bit crowded’ – ouch!  By sharp contrast, and because of her universal popularity, everyone was wiling to overlook and even sympathise with, her own extra-marital dalliances.  

Judging by the media coverage of this poignant anniversary, her universal acclaim and yes, love, has not diminished.  In the intervening 2 decades, Charles has finally been free to marry his courtesan, the divorced Camila Parker-Bowles, now Duchess of Cornwall and she herself worked tirelessly to show the public that she was not a home-breaker, just a woman in love.  She has immersed herself in charity work and royal engagements; so much so that up to a few months ago, her public image had improved to the extent that public antipathy to the thought of her taking the title of ‘Queen Camilla’ when Charles becomes king had greatly softened – the people had come round. 

However the Diana legend refuses to die with the princess and the anniversary commemorations of her death have re-opened all those old wounds.  Reminded once more of Charles’ infidelity and shabby treatment of his wife, Camilla is once more the wicked step-mother in many people’s minds and the debate about her husband’s suitability to be king has been revived.  The public’s desire is clear – the succession should skip a generation and Prince William should be the next British monarch.  More worryingly for Charles, recent polls have indicated a clear public shift of opinion against both him and his wife – the people have neither forgiven nor forgotten.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your point of view, it doesn’t work that way.  Monarch does not run of democratic lines and the people don’t have a say.  The line of succession goes to the next male heir and only on to the heir of the heir (in this case, William) in the event of Charles’ dying before the present monarch (his mother, the queen) or the even less likely scenario whereby he cedes the throne to his son.  I say ‘unlikely’ because you have to remember that Charles has been preparing to take on the role of king his whole life, informally as a child and formally following his investiture as Prince of Wales in 1969 by his mother in a  centuries-old ceremony performed at Caernarvon Castle.  

Though he did spend a short time in the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force, he has never really had a day job and has spent his long life ( he is now 68) shadowing his mother and understudying the role of monarch, preparatory to wearing the crown when she inevitably dies:  And though he is certainly devoted to both his parents and it is undoubtedly a blessing that Queen Bess II has lived such a long, healthy life, last year becoming the longest-serving monarch in British history (65 years and counting),  for Charles it has delayed his taking over the mantle to which he was born.  It is therefore unthinkable that after all those years waiting in the wings and learning his lines, he would suddenly have a change of heart and cause a constitutional furore by seceding to his elder son, no matter how much his mother’s loyal subjects wish it.  They don’t get a vote!

It is not a process completely set in stone.  It first evolved through a belief called the Divine Right of Kings, a doctrine which states that kings derive their authority directly from God and that it therefore follows that succession can only be passed on through immediate bloodlines or that divine linkage would be broken.  Though this belief has fallen away in a more secular society, the succession rules have been preserved untouched till very recent times, when a change was made which would see the throne in future times ceded to the eldest child, rather than the eldest son, a concession to feminism and a nod to the fact that Britain’s three most powerful, most successful and longest serving monarchs have all been women – Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II.   Not one of the many, many kings has even come close!  Of course that change will not affect the succeeding generation anyway, since Prince William’s elder child is a boy, George (not that one, silly!)  

So the only imponderable here is whether or not Camilla will be allowed to take on the title of Queen when her husband becomes king or whether the diplomatic alternative of King Consort is conferred on her in its stead, making her queen in all but name.  However, it is highly significant that she has never been given the title of Princess of Wales.  That rank still rests with the late Diana and may she rest in peace.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”


Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”


Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.


Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)


Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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